"Porosity is probably the concept that best characterises Etienne Courtois’s approach to his photographic work. One of the threads in his creative process is his distinctly plastic treatment of the medium through integrated and often barely noticeable interventions that are both sculptural and pictorial by nature. These interventions are evident in how he prepares his support as well as in the compositions themselves.
The interventions often originate from the confrontation between various random objects gathered by Courtois during his walks and rambles through the city or in nature, leading to surprising encounters that have a contemporary surrealistic quality, which is further accentuated by the treatment or plastic and pictorial transformations he applies. Courtois adds a subsequent layer of ambiguity to the reading of this process by creating sculptural forms - often in plaster, but also in wood - that are integrated into the images or applied in relief on the prints.
Occasionally, the ambivalence of the treatment is emphasised by multiple exposure of the same photographic negative, which modifies the chromatic values as well as the shapes in the initial image, creating the effect of a shift or spectral motion.
The work of Etienne Courtois clearly surpasses the dichotomy between figurative and representational art. The ambiguity in interpreting and understanding these interventions leads to completely new and surprising formal encounters between everyday objects in a whimsical, alienating atmosphere. Courtois’s work is marked by a distinctly free, singular and often witty approach that evokes the pictorial work of Walter Swennen or the sculptures of Koenraad Dedobbeleer."
Text by Emmanuel Lambion