Pras was born on March 22, 1952 in Charente in the south-west of France in a toy shop. After more than 20 years spent as a painter (and also a sculptor of recovered and found objects), Pras conceived in 1997 an astonishing form of expression: using photography as a basis for the creation of what amounts to a form of “perspective-based” installation art. When viewed or photographed from the right perspective, a seemingly random pile of trash is revealed to be an enormous sculptural portrait.
Similar to Cheval, Pras relies on recovering miscellaneous objects to create his artwork. In his hands, discarded and broken chairs, boards, figurines, and other items become the medium with which to construct astonishing examples of visual anamorphosis — imagery with a distorted perspective that requires the viewer to use special devices or view from a very specific vantage point in order to form the image properly. Pras’s work does not illustrate the painter’s art as we would typically think of it, but instead of plays with the notion of how the eye views an object and the brain interprets what the eye sees. In fact, brush and paint are replaced by the object itself.
Looking at each individual component and its precise placement in the overall portrait, one can’t help but marvel at the artist’s eye for perspective and his painstaking assembly of the piece. Pras sets up his camera at a well-defined angle so that the objects themselves merge and a portrait appears from this flotsam and jetsam — and the photograph he takes is often the only remaining trace of this ephemeral work.