Born in France, the artistic duo Manon Duparc (*1991) & François Pain (*1988), came across each other in the first months of their studies – she interior architecture and design, he architecture – in Geneva from 2009 to 2015. Collision of a lifetime, they immediately recognizing themselves on the same wavelength all around, began to dream of a professional collaboration as well, which they have focused exclusively on the photographic image since 2017.
In 2017, they set up ‘Think utopia’, an architectural photography agency whose distinctive style and approach, navigating between geometric details and enigmatic atmospheres, quickly earned them commissions for prestigious museums around the world. They photographed Tadao Ando’s conversion of Paris’s ‘Bourse de Commerce’ into a museum for the Pinault Collection or the ‘Albert Kahn’ photography museum designed by Kengo Kuma.
In 2020, Manon Duparc & François Pain, wishing to highlight their personal creations, gave birth to their shared creative voice under the name ‘Onoko’. They immediately began appear in Off Spaces and Project Rooms for group and solo exhibitions, mainly in and around Geneva, but also at the 2021 Venice Biennale, while another project in Japan was delayed due to the pandemic.
Onoko wants to make a plea for the imaginary through each of its creations. For their main photographic series, ‘Percept’, Manon and François press the shutter when an atmosphere overwhelms their soul, already obscuring anything figurative that would make the shots trivial. For them, we witness the formless soul of the void which is in essence, light, color and sound. The subsequently unedited images, which thus consist solely of complex color degradations, nevertheless exhibit a great sensitivity to atmosphere and its composition, in which their years of training as architects take a prominant stance.
Artworks on handmade Japanese paper, with an irregular, fringed surface and a neutral border in smaller and medium formats, framed behind glass, are associated with softly coloured preludes awakened by the kozo fibre. In some exhibitions, these papers are even hanging on clotheslines, radiating out from the middle of the room. The artworks, with dynamic colourimetric symphonies, are produced in small to very large formats and framed behind glass, are printed on fine cotton paper, that brings an abysmal depth to the colours for an absorbent image and brings them closer to paintings.
They are all called ‘Percept’ according to Gilles Deleuze’s definition : « Percept is a set of perceptions and sensations that outlives those who experience them » — a colourimetric Madeleine de Proust in short. Further, they are accompanied by a few details of the country and, in some cases even the latitude and time of the photograph, and then the imagination does the rest. Each artwork is published in four formats, each of which is a unique edition. The images are convincing and bring an imagination into the flow that very soon touches on fundamentals, beginning and end, creation, the value and meaning of life. One is reminded by these pictures once again of how much sheer happiness can be found in swinging into just that which moves around us, rises and falls.