Heaven’s Mistake



If we go today from Ramallah, Palestine, to Shanghai, China, and still further, to Fort Chipewyan, in the far north of Alberta – as did Guy Oberson – this can only be achieved lucid and divested of any bias. More than the visible result of one or more trips, here we have the fruit of an artist’s sensitivity in search of the evident. The journey maintains something of an initiatory itinerary and, when the concrete experience of the journey is not enough, the use of the all-seeing eye of the God Google Earth can sometimes be of help. But this only to confirm that over the days and miles one certainty becomes clearer and clearer: not only that Paradise does not exist, but that it is incompatible with the human condition.


The present exhibition attempts to provide an answer. This answer emerges through images that offer us, one after another, the stations of a journey of challenges and questions. Taking, but above all making pictures is a paradoxical procedure, which needs “perspective”, that is to say that of an eye, able to see “through”, to wander in the depths of space, while maintaining autonomy.
So the divisions at work here come as no surprise. A bird’s eye view of the Great Mosque of Samarra transforms the prayer building into a swirling mandala. The empathic rapprochement of people and places makes representation almost impossible. The frame is broken or fades. Faces fade away and float in uncertain spaces. A forest emerges from nowhere, to disappear immediately, like the ghosts that haunt it. Landscapes unfurl beneath the dazzled gaze of the traveller, who questions their extent, giving them something of the colour of his dreams.
This world is made of cries, fears, tears. Gestures are the fragments of a broken but stubborn discourse. In spite of all this, Oberson’s universe is as far from apocalyptic defeatism as it is from any utopian temptation. The proposed reflection is not aimed at post-history, but at the here and now. To be reconciled with this world, it is necessary to confront it without taboo. Reconciliation can never be total, and must not be total. Confrontation, yes. This does not involve the eye alone, but also – in the case of an artist-image-maker – the hand. The significance of gestural breadth will then be recognised, which is, it seems to me, one of the major characteristics of the works exhibited here. This exhibition speaks not only through the images but also through the gestures that generated them. The gesture, it has been said, exasperates itself. It testifies to a latent but unshakable revolt, strong sometimes as only the marriage of kyrie and anathema can be.

Victor Stoichita, Art historian
Excerpt from « Guy Oberson – Erreur de paradis (Heaven’s Mistake) », Edition Museum of Fine Arts of Fribourg, Switzerland, 2015

This work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts of Fribourg, Switzerland, 2015