The Upside Down World of Philippe Ramette

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2011, 12:00am


The Upside Down World of Philippe Ramette
Avenue of Stars, Tsim Sha Tsui
Until May 29

For his latest solo exhibition, French artist Philippe Ramette's whimsical ideas and works have escaped, as he puts it, 'the closed world of photography' and sit in the open air against the ethereal backdrop of Victoria Harbour.

His series of 36 skilfully mounted photographs draws on intellectual and conceptual inquiry and such disciplines as engineering and physics. By using prosthetic and other supports, Ramette safely secures himself within different natural settings in his chosen role as a suit-and-tie attired everyman.

Then, by manipulating the photographic angle either sideways or upside down, the artist changes the expected viewpoint and creates a new, realistic, physical view of the situation, with the gravity defying moment caught and photographed.

It is not, however, the presented photograph that is the real art piece, but the planning, setting up and execution of each image. The viewer is also involved, by actively processing the artist's tension of ideas to appreciate the resulting depicted viewpoint. Just as the comedian relies on the laughter of an audience for a joke to work, Ramette similarly draws the viewer into each work to allow them to decipher his vision.

Drawing on surrealism and the humour of vaudeville theatre, Ramette gives a no-nonsense, shifted view of reality in each photograph. In works such as Irrational Laziness or Photographic Metaphor, a simple human action within a natural environment jolts the familiar into a parallel unreality.

This superb exhibition is divided into three areas of inquiry, with the underwater set pieces being the simplest: literally everyday life underwater, but it is his shifted 'points of view' and 'irrational experience' ideas that offer a bracing unreality. In these works, Ramette variously can been seen walking up a palm tree or precariously standing on a rooftop barrier wall that by a trick of the photographic angle becomes a walkway, or standing on a balcony projected out from the sea of Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.