Montreal photographer Nicolas Ruel has made a career of meshing the past and the present in his remarkable works.
By using multiple photographic exposures to capture several images in one photograph, Ruel merges historic landmarks with present moments.
An exhibition of his latest photographs – a series called Paris/Versailles – is on display at Galerie de Bellefeuille until October 29. The photographs blend historic architecture with ancient sculpture, Renaissance art and modern humans and cars.
Ruel layers seemingly disparate elements photographically onto a stainless-steel surface. His tableaux are large, generally measuring four-by-five feet. His practice focuses on cityscapes, playing with the static tension between historic landmarks and the movement in living spaces. He weaves together the past and present by capturing the energy of these sites through the use of multiple exposures. In his work Place de L’Opera, for instance, the boulevard is superimposed with people, evoking a sense of trans-figuration and movement.
The stainless-steel background creates a reflective surface that also speaks to the transcendence of time and place. In his compositions, such architectural elements as archways, moldings and baroque ceilings are in direct relationship with sculptural figures. Ruel’s intention is not to create a contrast between time and space, but for them to work together in an active exchange.
The scenes of Paris’s landscapes, gardens, and halls at Versailles are reflected through various angles and perspectives.
Viewers become part of the artwork thanks to Ruel’s use of a stainless-steel background, which reflects them. The use of reflection expands the interior of the work beyond the frame and into the space around it to complement the white walls and concrete floor of the gallery. •
The exhibition of Nicolas Ruel’s Paris/Versailles works takes place at Galerie de Bellefeuille – 1455 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal from October 17 to 29. For more information: www.debellefeuille.com.