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January 23 2009 6 23 /01 /January /2009 12:23

An artist, by nature, tries to be different, to be unique, personally and into his work. What could be more frustrating than being stupidly compared to a simple homonymous, without relationship or direct correspondence concerning the realization of your work? And worst, when you are Dutch and we connect you to a Belgian person (friendship relationship between the two countries are clearly slackened for two centuries now… at least). 

Well, maybe it’s not that stupid, with the exclusion of their family name, to parallel Guillaume Bijl, Belgian artist born in 1946 and Marc Bijl, Dutch artist born in 1970. Without family relationship, they still share common ancestors: Flemish Primitives. Without analyzing the work of Roger Van Der Weyden, Robert Campin or Jans Van Eyck (go to Richelieu Wing, 2nd floor, Louvre Museum), we can find, shortened and brazenly, main axes of their revolutionary characteristics: the implementation of the Sacred into everyday life, an obsessive attention to details and execution, the luminosity and supernatural transparency by technique and ideological dimensions. These specificities qualify pieces by Marc and Guillaume, revolutionaries to the (Flemish) core too. You might think that everything is in the genes…. 

The (fake) Bijl family likes to reveal our everyday life, to analyze our society, on its socio-economically and geopolitically dimensions. If Guillaume enjoys to rebuilt our tragic and banal environment into institutions and galleries turned into driving school, supermarket, launderette or dispensary (called “presentation installations”), Marc chooses to reinterpret symbols of our society (Lara Croft in La Revoluzione siamo noi, Nike in Symbolic or Bluetooth in Symbolic IV), embezzles and makes up them in order we better absorb their perversity and power. Both practices are liken to a kind of present archeology, digging, exhibiting, excavating a reality buried under the thin couch of our incapacity to detect the truth. Study the present to help us comprehend the immediate future is a strange game with time and length notions. 

Our hostile brothers introduce religious feeling, frontally and explicitly. Guillaume Bijl on Het Nonneke Van Brugge and Archeological Site (one of the “sorry installations”), respectively a nun mannequin seated in front of a crucifix imitating reality, between trickery and found ready-made, and a church tower slightly dug up, a brilliant piece mentioning religion relationship and confronting its chtonian and mystic dimensions. Marc Bijl, in the same manner, confronts religion on Aftermath, a metal cross inserted in a concrete block, Oh God there is no God, a Dutch flag embroidered with this sentence, or Fundamentality V, a luminous panel set in building materials, put in front of Tilburg Church, questioning exchanges between metaphysical impact associated to minimal art and the decline of religiosity and the respectful attention we dedicate to it. 

Finally, the anti-authority dimension is the strongest link between the two artists. It became a trademark for the Dutch one. Tags (Terror or Resist on the columns of the entry of institutions), peace symbol put on fire (The burning peace), armed Statue of Liberty (Freedom)… We could multiply examples of claims and commitments proliferating on (Marc) Bijl’s work. Concerning the Belgian one, the rebellion aims at societal and artistic system since the very beginning of his art production. Spaces hijacked (see above), exhibitions of museum collections of bidets, leather waders, erotic pieces…. on a formalist criticism that spares nobody, artists themselves and curators, art centers and art mercantilism, him and art itself too. 

If Marc rejects the Flemish cause thanks to a raw and anarchic realization (drips, handmade writings, tapes and stencils on a great historicist reminding of Mondrian work (another Dutch artist), more primitive then, Guillaume Bijl wishes to create a meticulous hyperreality, carrying out precisely falsified installations but he knows, through found objects, to get closer to punk violence too. They both create an elaborated and compact work, intimately shining of transcendental light, reminding Flemish genuine “devotio moderna”. 

By the way, “Bijl” can be translated by “ax”. Marc and Guillaume are, fundamentally and in their flesh, two Flemish well equipped to lead an artistic… and Primitive war.

[Picture : Guillaume Bijl - TV Quiz Decor, 1993. Collection Vlaamse gemeenschap/MUHKA Anvers. Photo : Syb'l S-Pictures]

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January 23 2009 6 23 /01 /January /2009 12:17

Soeur Emmanuelle, almost 100 years, recently awarded by the honorific Woman of the Year title (that’s probably moves her deeply, wherever she is) died few days ago. From this little nun, we’ll remember two things: a frank sympathy, and to be perfectly honest, a kind of dedication, and her clothes: a white wimple, a grey blouse and... sneakers! Let’s say that this plantar getup get successful since its launch at the end of the XIXth century. Athletic shoes or more commonly sneakers (to sneak) refer to comfortable shoes with rubber soles as at ease on playgrounds as on city streets. 

Following Keds, every sport brand tried to develop this fructuous market, creating techniques closer to art domain, or sci-fi, than simple technological concept. First Reebok shoes then Adidas at the beginning of the XXth century with long nails passing through soles remind us immediately the work Present by Man Ray, this iron scattered with nails. Then, the first Nike pair with the sole melt down on a waffle iron (a “cook” as Michel Blazy probably began like that), the Nike Air evolution (air bubbles into the sole, a praise of hot air worthy of Loris Greaud), the Air Jordan (do not mention Ball Total Equilibrium Tank by Jeff Koons but light flights of fancy by Ernesto Neto), the ERS (a technology that only Olafur Eliasson can understand), show how technological evolutions mix up with artistic practices. We could talk about the Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila: winner and recordman of the marathon on 1960 in Roma... barefooted, he repeated the same performance 4 years later in Tokyo, with... Asics shoes. Such an attitude could be compared to art performance and body art for the first one, and malicious irony, like Claude Closky or Matthieu Laurette for the second. 

Concerning particular treatments artists do to sneakers, we have the hand-made version by Patrice Gaillard & Claude (in collaboration with Daniel Dewar) for the Handmade Shoes series, in polyurethane and leather: ES, Stan Smith, DC, Air Max 90. The duet reinvents myths: iconic shoes, artist meticulously working on handcrafted fabrication. Johannes Wohnseifer likes to tantalize big German brands, including obviously the Adi Dassler company. He collaborated for the Wohnseifer, 3 specimens of shoes mixing architectural elements of the Olympic Games in Munich with Otl Aicher works. He exhibited too 100 pairs of painted and reconstructed shoes for the Yokohama Triennial on 2001, and offered them to dumbfounded spectators. Jose Antonio Hernandez piles sneakers up to, thanks to their logo, spell the name of a great thinker: Jung, Kafka, Marx, Hegel, Kant. The idea is not extraordinary but the result is funny. Well, the link between sneakers and thinkers is quite abstruse. Adam Brandejs replays the manual approach of Patrice Gaillard & Claude but on a non-vegetarian version: a sneaker made of flesh and meat. Between marketing cannibalism and work sacrifice notion, Nike undoubtedly appreciates this homage... Ala Ebtekar mixes Iranian culture with hip-hop environment on Elemental, an installation where sneakers play the role of mediators between Orient and Occident and incarnate a certain imagery of our contemporary societies. Ricky Swallow tries the cardboard version on Vacated Campers and the wood version (with bird integrated) on Together is the new alone. The technical mastery of the Australian artist impresses but has to confront to furious classicism (and what it implies) on realization. Finally, Valentin Ruhry on Nike Air takes the swoosh brand to the letter and puts poetry and humor on these incarnations always connected to primary mercantilism. 

Mentioning mercantilism, another strategy governs the art / sneaker relationship. Numerous artists associated, voluntarily or not, their name and creations to various shoes. The Adicolor series can be proud to quote Jim Lambie, Claude Closky, Keith Haring, Taro Okamoto or Peter Saville, as participants. And it’s a great aesthetic success. We cannot blame artists for giving in to merchandising temptation, especially when they are dead like Jean-Michel Basquiat, or honestly and deeply implicated like John Maeda, both with Reebok. Concerning brands, they have always been inspired by contemporary creation. Let’s remember that Vans became a leader on skate market after the great acting of Sean Penn on Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Amy Heckerling in 1982. Vans whom advertising answer to Nike involvement on its skate market has been absolutely brilliant, fit for an Ed Ruscha painting: “Don’t do it”. A merely divine inspiration.... But, talking about God, what brand Soeur Emmanuelle wore?

[Picture :  Claude Closky, BK1 for Colette. Courtesy de l'artiste, Colette, Adidas]

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January 23 2009 6 23 /01 /January /2009 12:01

What’s worth than working with neon’s today on the contemporary art market? Working with skulls? Maybe…. But only just.  The use of fluorescent tubes (to be perfectly correct) was not supposed to end like that. It was actually doomed to become a reserved attribute of Dan Flavin, his eternal trademark, as blue for Klein, Marilyn for Warhol, cut animals for Hirst and copy for… others. Its functionality mastered, its uses worked out, there was no reason the neon came back. But, following the postmodern example of embezzlement (of ads notably), the neon came to haunt galleries again. All kind of writings proliferated, with more or less intelligence. The great Trajectoire de Mouche (fly trajectory) by Pierre Malphettes, the Neon Circle by Carsten Holler or the Je suis une merde (I am a shit) by Claude Lévêque mixed up with everything and (specially) anything. Everybody lets his own little message, his little touch, his no-contribution to art history : Marcelline Delbecq, Reynald Drouhin, John Cornu. Sorry for them, they are only the latest we quickly saw recently. 

It’s not easy to use neon today and particularly in reference to Dan Flavin. It’s not easy to overcome light too… after God. Concerning Dan Flavin, the reference and the reappropriation on Rackowe’s work is obvious when he covers identically works of the minimal master (SP3 [for V Tatlin]), but can be more subtle when he uses industrial materials, the genuine reasoning of Flavin (scaffolding posts, asphalt, cinder blocks). Flavin is not the only one quoted : we find Donald Judd’s influence on Block Shelves 2, Bruce Nauman on Pathfinding, Sol Lewitt on Block, Tony Smith on Cube 5, etc. We could mention kinetic art too, Jim Lambie’s Doors, robotic : the art of Rackowe is full of prestigious referents and follows their path. However, as he puts fluorescent tubes of Dan Flavin into metal ducts and lets only weak lights escaping from their extremities, Rackowe controls his topic. He perfectly assimilated Flavin’s interest for light, digested it and modeled it to create an infinitely personal work. That’s the paradox:  clever artists know how to advisedly use obvious and numerous references to develop a peculiar and successfully completed work. Rackowe is one of them. His work looks like no one.

Precisely, Rackowe brings a surprising touch and plays with ambivalences : a faultless finish with raw materials, an apparently complex mechanic with saved and diverted objects, the coldness of the elements with the warmth of the piece ended. The work of Rackowe is a strange and coherent dialogue between materiality and immateriality, technology and humanity. We let ourselves intoxicate by simplicity, fascinated by successful aesthetic. Rackowe reinvents a post-minimal art, powerful and peaceful. Self-confidents, Rackowe’s pieces exert themselves alone, once independence won. Nathaniel Rackowe lets us discover industrial poetry like Einsturzende Neubauten does, with few means, a limited colors range and conceptually ambitious wills. That’s so beautiful on its obviousness we almost forget he uses neon (too). Like Flavin made these latter disappear into light, Rackowe disintegrates them into his own glow. The neon is just a mean to access to a state of aesthetical transcendence, not an end by itself. A lesson probably to ponder over. When we see such works, we reflect that, definitively, the sale of neon should be allowed only to this kind of artists…

[Picture : Nathaniel Rackowe, Spin, 2006. Electroluminescent Wire, Steel Cable, 15 x 15 x 3m. Courtesy the artist & Bischoff/Weiss Gallery]

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January 16 2009 6 16 /01 /January /2009 19:38

Charles Clary, who is now exhibiting his artworks at Galerie Evolution Pierre Cardin, is a SCAD  student (Savannah, GA). Art and You met him and asked him a few questions.

What could you tell us about your artworks ?

The all aspect of the world is musically based. I used to be a precaution instructor, a music instructor. So think of it as this world set as underneath others worlds, and they run parallalel to one another. So this world functions in the same way than our does, but there's no hate, no anger. It's very playful, interactive. They all kind of based their reality on our own, but take everything that we do wrong, and make it right.
It's all created of cut paper. So, in a word, the cut paper comes out the wall so far so that the viewer can have more interaction with it, more so than just a painting on the wall. Because if it's just a painting, it's like a documentation or something. If I actually cut the paper and make it come out, and you can go in and out of it, this is actual creation of the world. So you can kind of sustain your disbelief, and put yourself into this environment. So you feel like you're a part of this world.

Are they installations, or sculptures ?

It's a mixture of both. To make it easy, it's more of a wall installation, because it's made of so many different pieces that you pretty much have to install on the wall. It's not just a kind of rectangular pieces you have to hang. It's like 5 or 6 different panels that play off on one another and create this kind of flow up against the wall, that could creep and infect or infest the space.

Where does your inspiration come from ?

It's based on microbiology, like viruses, and topographical landmaps. Like if you look at caverns, and mountains and anything like that, they're just different layers, and that's what i'm working on : different layers of fiction. We have great actions of color, so it goes from dark all the way to light. You get that kind of elevation changes, so that you know that the highest point of this world is here, and the lowest point could be here. It looks like it goes back more further than he actually does, so you can picture this it goes back miles, but it's only that deep. So it's based on a microscopic level, but it's also based on reality of a land formations.

And which artists inspire you ?

There's an artist named Janne Stark who works in the same kind of paper that I work with, there's a lady named Jane South. Takashi Murakami is a huge inspiration. There's an artist named Jeff Sotto, also Matthew Ritchie, artists of that nature are a huge inspiration to me. Some of them are working paper, some of them installations, more so than painting or sculpture and I try to look at the way that they engage the viewer, like how you look at the piece. Because that's super important. I want you to be able to get your way through the piece, than just look at it on the wall. You can come up cloose, stand further back.

How does it feel about exhibiting in such a place, in Paris ?

I'm still in Academia and I just had my thesis show, which was a solo exhibition in Savannah (Georgia) and this is my first international solo show outside the school. I mean, I showed in several group exhibitions, in New York, in California, Tennessee, Atlanta, places like that but I'm very humble about this opportunity. When Pierre Cardin buy the first piece I ever done like this, it was very exciting, because I didn't think that this piece was gonna sell, just because it was so large : it was 45 feet by 8 feet tall.
And then, when opportunity came that he offered this space to show my works, I was completely astonished because, I'm still pretty young, I'm only 28, and still in school. And be able to have an opportunity to come to Paris, which is my first international travel ever, to have a solo exhibition here, is a once-in-a-life time opportunity. It was a lot of fun to figure out how to navigate and maximize the space with all the pieces I brought with me. Because I can't engage colum areas, arch ways. So it's been an amazing experience.

[Visuel : Charles Clary, Double Diddle Fermentation (detail) 2008. Acrylic, graphite, and hand cut paper on panel. Dimensions Variable. Courtesy of the artist]

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December 24 2008 4 24 /12 /December /2008 15:33

In order to make Christmas a success and not be considered as the turkey this year, we offer you the first virtual and cultural present to open right now.

Having a Merry Christmas ? The recipe is quite simple actually, you only need the right ingredients. 

First of all, no Christmas without Santa Claus. The most famous resident of Rovaniemi is the main character for every respectable Christmas Party. You have the choice : classical and wise with Andy Warhol’s Santa Claus, classical and not so wise with Santa Chocolate Shop by Paul McCarthy or his integral and monstrous series of Santa (the ideal choice to make your child understand that Santa Claus does not exist and it’s much better this way…), the I’m-not-in-working-order-to-drive-my-sleigh on the Last Days of Santa Claus by Biljana Djurdjevic, the disappeared one on Sorrow letter for the disappearance of Santa Claus by Kostis Velonis or the too-late-no-present-this-year on Père Noël, a disenchanted vision by Aymeric Ebrard. 

Concerning the Christmas tree, the official supplier is John Armleder: All Night Party (Furniture Sculpture), Everything, Flower Power, Tate 08 Series…The Swiss artist puts fire trees everywhere but always on a clever manner, with humor and conceptual class. You can also opt for a sharp Nordmann like the Christmas Tree by Shi Jinsong, abstract Christmas Trees with the plantation on Air gets into everything even nothing and get up girl a sun is running the world by Ugo Rondinone or a tree that can make you loose your head with the knocking down and brilliant series Xmas Trees by Steven Shearer. 

After having bought your presents on the great Art & You shop (!) and brought a saving Yule log, you have to play with the kids. Snowmen are the best option. From the iconic Bonhomme de Neige by Pierre Ardouvin to the humanized Motherhood by Xenia Gnilitskaya, the stylized versions like Unmelting Black (snowman) by Gediminas Urbonas or Stretched snowman by Jonathan Seliger, you can free your mind and your imagination and try to reach the formal perfection of Snowman Stories by Cindy Loehr. It takes all sorts to make a world : the tenebrous Snowman by David Ratcliff, the well-a-little-bit-kitsch Spaceman with snowman by Thomas Woodruff, the crazy blurred Bubbles and snowman or the poetic Snowman with fireworks, both by Todd Hebert or the I’m-going-to-disappear-soon-with-this-goddamned-rain Snowman by Vladimir Dubosarsky & Alexander Vinogradov. Before you start, please read carefully the excellent book Snowmen by David Lynch. 

Last step : step the scene. Snow with the silkscreen prints Sans Titre B by Armleder (did we mention that he is Swiss?), some fir trees under cold whiteness on W.y.a.n. by Luigi Presicce, and last but not least, two or three reindeers to finish : Luigi Presicce can deliver them on the same time on Cervo and Eremita

Now you’re well-equipped, you know what to do : try to have a merry Christmas and attempt to quote the name of every artist mentioned above during the traditional Christmas meal. Because it’s never too late to realize one of your good resolution of 2008 : the one that concerns your wish to be interested in contemporary art…

[Picture : Biljana Djurdjevic, The last days of Santa Claus, 2001, 176x200cm, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist]


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December 24 2008 4 24 /12 /December /2008 14:20

We met the famous sculptor Richard Serra during the re-installation of Slat, one of his masterpieces, in the La Défense business district. Short but warm interview, despite the cold weather.

What can you tell me about Slat, and the vertical towers?
Well, I started the series of « Vertical towers » in 72. The first one was built in the Stedelijck Museum, and it's gonna be reinstalled probably in two years, because they re-did the architecture. Then I built one in Pittsburgh, and I built one in Orange County. I think so far, I built ten or twelve pieces that contain different internal volumes. I built them with height different plates. They're towers that are open to the sky, so it's an ongoing language. Slat is more involved with the circulation of urbanism than the others, and his location.

What piece of iron did you use for this sculpture particularly?
It's corten, corten steel, that's a weathering steel, an oxydable steel, that after about height years  turns in a very very dark amber, almost black, then it holds its color and it doesn't oxydize any longer.

What is your definition of minimalism?
The minimalist deals with the object and the specificity of the object. I don't deal with the objects. What I deal with, is different : I make the content reside in the viewer, the subject is your experience. The minimalist deals with the object in the experience, and he didn't deal with context.
He didn't deal with time, and I deal with time, in relationship to how the body moves through its place. So, as you move through the piece in relationship to your time, your history and you memory, to a large degree, the context resides in you. And the subject matters with your experience.

Do you have projects by now?
I was just in Madrid, where I'm doing a show in Prado in November. Then tomorrow I'm going to the Mid-East, to look into some possibilities, but I really can't talk about it.  

Thanks a lot, Mr Serra!

[Photo: EPAD/Agence Vu - Franck Ferville]

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December 18 2008 5 18 /12 /December /2008 15:55

The weather is cold today. But not as cold as in other countries. For instance, in Norway, the weather is much colder. Even in Oslo, that is in Southern region of the country; but in Northern Europe. Norway, by the way, has an exciting artistic scene. Well. We just brushed by the most pathetic pitch of the whole art critic history (brushed only because we know another one as stupid as this one…) but now we can talk about the Norwegian scene that export artists and leaders that show the way and are the talk of the town. 

The Norwegian art scene has a Founding Father : Edvard Munch. The strong personality of the instigator of expressionism overhangs the Norwegian creation that followed him. Hard to get rid of such a shadow. Before him, almost nobody, except for children and Burzum fans (that can be one and same person… happy parents!), Theodor Kittelsen, a great illustrator with simple and amazingly expressive style, notably on the "Black Death series". Actual artists have succeeded in escaping from this expressionist past and developed their proper manner. The omnipresent Nature, the splendid and dark forests, the cold light, the fascinating nights, definitively influence the creation of each Norwegian artist, and Scandinavian artists in general. It seems a little bit cliché but not that much when you know the captivating violence of Nordic landscapes. Just notice that they created the (second) black metal scene and you’ll better understand how Nature can interfere on Norwegians mood…

From this new young Norwegian scene (that is not benefiting from the powerful and fictitious floodlights that enlightened English, German, then Chinese, Indian, Russian… and French artists?), some personalities come off.

One of these is Borre Saethre, an obvious example of a dream-like use of Nature marvels. Unicorn (My private sky), debauched rabbits (a million dreams, a million scars / interlude: poerty for satelites, including the unfortunate one on Bunny Session), ravens (Beauty’s summer dead), does (the end of Bambi cycle), Saethre creates a shadowy universe, frightening, sterilized as a set on Kubrick’s movies.

Gardar Eine Einarsson is probably the rising star. He works on subcultures and how they integrate to politicized domain. His pieces look firstly a little bit cold and abrupt, especially when he adopts distanced neo-conceptual style. But, the way he uses accidents, an unfinished / infinite, punk drifted manner, shows, behind its apparent complexity, a sensible emotion.

On a similar neo-conceptual and rock attitude, we find Matias Faldbakken, another young promising Norwegian artist. He utilizes a minimalistic aesthetic, particularly on his scotch-tape writings on canvas (Untitled canvas #16). Faldbakken preserves Nordic detachment and reintegrates ironically the traditional Norwegian expressiveness (Cultural Department).

Lars Laumann is interested in strange interconnections linking unlikely popular cultures together: Lady Di and The Smiths on Morrissey foretelling the death of Diana, the surprising love story between the Swedish Eija-Riita Berliner-Mauer and… the Berlin Wall on Berlinmuren. Laumann is on a more opened vision than his colleagues and proposes a very personal and interesting reading of decoded social phenomenon.

On a more traditional vein that alludes to a rich mythological but still present past, we have two antagonist artists. The classical and classy drawings by Martin Skauen, full of sulfurous magic (My Atlas, Arctic Monkey) are opposed to the brut thrills of Bjarne Melgaard. The work of Melgaard leaks out dazzling jolts on a painting covered with ancestral forces of Mythical Norway (even if he is born in Sydney).

Talking about magic, the collages of Are Mokkelbost are a good example. Thanks to an out of the common technique, he develops a different and colorful aesthetic. Such a perfection on an heteroclite mix must be a part of some Viking rituals.

We have to evocate the light and fantastic (first sense of the word) drawings of Kim Hiortoy and the perfectly worked but still on an astonishing reality photographs by Torbjorn Rodland. Thus, the (nevertheless very good) Standard Gallery in Oslo could legitimately thanks us wholeheartedly for this article.

Lastly, can we ethically mention Ingar Dragset, half of the duet he composes with the Danish Michael Elmgreen? Yes, we can, for two main reasons. The first one, because they are geniuses, using clever humor and conceptual scorn. The second one, because, considering that only talent matters, we absolutely do not care about the nationality of an artist.

By the way, don’t catch a cold and cloak yourself, snow is announced for next week…

[Picture : Borre Saethre, My private sky (entrance areas et unit 2 / explosion suite et transit area et unit1 / trauma white), 2001. Vue d'installation au Astrup fearmley Museet for Moderne Kunst à Oslo. Courtesy : the artist, Galleri WANG, Galerie Loevenbruck]

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December 10 2008 4 10 /12 /December /2008 21:33
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December 5 2008 6 05 /12 /December /2008 12:52

On the occasion of the Rencontres Internationales Paris / Berlin / Madrid in 2008, Art and You met Ubermorgen and Marc Lee. The first sends millions of bots, virtual robots to analyze the market and create songs. With Oamos, the second has a goal: to introduce the viewer content likely to please and inspire.

Art and You TV - http://www.art-and-you.com/tv

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November 29 2008 7 29 /11 /November /2008 16:22

Repetition: reiteration, retelling, come back of the same idea, action to do what you already did.

Repetition officially exists on Fine Arts as a reproduction of an original work by the author himself or under his directive. Repetition is not copy, homage, quotation, critical or not. Repetition is artist’s gesture that re-does, re-produces a process already set up. More precise than the simple style exercise or the recognizable touch of an artist, repetition denotes an iron will to impose a rhythm to one’s work, to analyze one’s creation on long term. To repeat is to integrate the notion of mastered time on one’s pieces. 

Repetition: reiteration, retelling, come back of the same idea, action to do what you already did.

This notion of temporality reminds its sense on the musical field. Repetition is an important prerequisite to improve a song or to compose it. But repetition, like in art, is different from the cover or the remix. It’s closer to the loop, the perpetual and hypnotic movement of an often not-melodic come back. Typical of the electro music, this repeated scansion can be found in industrial music  (Throbbing Gristle) or drone (Sunn O))), Earth), until, for this latter, the almost complete disappearance of the markers. The serial music intellectualized, almost against its will, the reflection about the implementation of similar models with, as fermatas, Stockhausen and Boulez. Repetition becomes a pattern, a drawing, a wallpaper (see and listen Quatorze exemples authentiques de triomphe de la musique decorative by Cinema Strange) and leads us back to art. 

Repetition: reiteration, retelling, come back of the same idea, action to do what you already did.

We just saw that repetition is not a matter of style. Djamel Tatah (until December 30 at Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris) does not repeat himself. His solitary bodies painted on monochrome backgrounds are a family, a lost souls society inextricably linked. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish repetition from series. The Furniture Sculptures by John Armleder, and more precisely his "Zack Wylde" series (abstract painting + juxtaposed guitar) are a reflection on the confrontation of similar elements on the same mode. The series are a game on possible combinations. The limit is passed with the 11 Saint Sebastian tended by Irene by Georges de la Tour. Copies of the Master, of his workshop, lure of money, anonymous forgers ? Hard to know the truth. But this idea of the repetition of the same work influenced another artist like Yves Klein. The anecdote is well known: Klein painted same-sized canvases in blue with a paint roller, hanged up side by side and sold with different prices… The fierce irony of Klein should not mask his conceptual genius. Pushing to an extreme and no coming back point the idea of repetition, he transcended even the gesture of the artist and made sacred the idea… after Duchamp. Now we know that Duchamp always comes with Warhol, it’s time to speak about the silkscreen of the Man Machine (for monotonous lovers of Kraftwerk). A lot of Marilyn, Mao, Dollars…. Few variations that force you to look after details and to become attentive to changes. The (falsely) mechanized treatment of the work induces a simplified vision of repetition. 

Repetition: reiteration, retelling, come back of the same idea, action to do what you already did.

Repetition is definitively relevant when it becomes a palingenesis, an “eternal recurrence” of the same, but on a volunteer way. Not like Bill Murray stock into the Groundhog Day by Harold Ramis. No, it’s the transition ad lib. of inexplicable and cold murders on Alan Clark’s Elephant. It’s more the sequence of identical shots on Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. On this latter, repetition is not exactly the same : the camera angle is always different. It makes a big distinctness. Buren (La Coupure is exhibited now at Picasso Museum, Paris) never does the same thing. The adaptation to the context modifies deeply and definitively every work that seems to repeat itself. The stripes (talking only of these is absolutely reductive) are never the same (well, yes they are, 8.7 cm wide, colored and alternated with a white stripe…). Buren, as his colleagues Mosset, Parmentier and Toroni, had the fascinating idea to work on the place, on the adaptation, on the look and on memory. Yayoi Kusama is another example (recently exhibited at the Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris) with her obsessive dot: repetition of the pattern on a variation of the support. Jim Lambie and his Zobop is a magnificent demonstration too that stripes of colored scotch-tapes on the floor are never exactly the same, never exactly different. 

Repetition: reiteration, retelling, come back of the same idea, action to do what you already did.

As usual, Damien Hirst is the one missing to conclude. The English artist repeats himself and sells again the same pieces on a strange come back. He reminds us how important is the notion of cycle in art, as in life (working a lot on death, does he resuscitate himself?). Scratched record or scratch held by the hand of the artist, repetition is an ambiguous phenomenon, hard to apprehend but that can quickly become a psychoanalytic obsession of the repetition, leading to the psychic dependence. 

Repetition: reiteration, retelling, come back of the same idea, action to do what you already did.

Thank you for not reading this text again.

[Picture : Daniel Buren, peinture issue de "Corridoscope", 1983. Peinture acrylique sur toile, 204 x 280 cm. Courtesy de l'artiste & galerie Jean Brolly]
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