Surface(s) / Prise(s)
Exhibition view
Surface(s) / Prise(s)
Exhibition view
Surface(s) / Prise(s)
Exhibition view
Surface(s) / Prise(s)
Exhibition view
Limonene 26, 2013
Hannah WHITAKER
Limonene 26, 2013
Archival pigment print
Image: 30 x 23 inches
Edition of 3 ex + 2 AP


Surface(s) / Prise(s) or : The making of an artwork

Towards the end of the 1960's, after the BMPT experiments and in reaction to the New Realists who used the waste of our consumer society as medium, the members of the "Supports/Surfaces" movement meant to go back to what Roland Barthes could have defined as the lowest level of painting. To deconstruct painting and sculpture implied - in echo to the post-structuralist school of thought - revealing what was inherent to the making of an artwork : its frame, its canvas, its chassis. This denunciation takes three distinctive forms :
- Refusal of a painting as a "window" (Alberti) and its "surface" as an illusionistic backing : the shape itself is not an image and shouldn't be seen as such.
- Refusal of the painting as the artist's subjectivity projection surface : to work the backing directly so that an "image" will appear that wasn't initially planned, however one shouldn't associate it either to the mysterious powers of the creative act. Therefore any aim at anything or any projection of a subjective image contradicts its fundamental function.  
- Refusal of all previous painting that would hide its backing: the artistic process is the recording, the setting or the repeated affixing and its interaction with the backings.

Surface(s) / Prise(s) or : The making of an artwork

Towards the end of the 1960's, after the BMPT experiments and in reaction to the New Realists who used the waste of our consumer society as medium, the members of the "Supports/Surfaces" movement meant to go back to what Roland Barthes could have defined as the lowest level of painting. To deconstruct painting and sculpture implied - in echo to the post-structuralist school of thought - revealing what was inherent to the making of an artwork : its frame, its canvas, its chassis. This denunciation takes three distinctive forms :
- Refusal of a painting as a "window" (Alberti) and its "surface" as an illusionistic backing : the shape itself is not an image and shouldn't be seen as such.
- Refusal of the painting as the artist's subjectivity projection surface : to work the backing directly so that an "image" will appear that wasn't initially planned, however one shouldn't associate it either to the mysterious powers of the creative act. Therefore any aim at anything or any projection of a subjective image contradicts its fundamental function.  
- Refusal of all previous painting that would hide its backing: the artistic process is the recording, the setting or the repeated affixing and its interaction with the backings.

In parallel to this triple demand new works have been emerging in the US, but also in Europe, in the past few years, borrowing sometimes to Land Art, but also reviving some of the "Supports/Surfaces" basis (except for its political charge). As "Supports/Surfaces" meant to deconstruct painting by revealing the instruments constituent to its fabrication, Oscar Murillo, Sam Falls or Ryan Foerster create works that are witnesses to an exchange, a flux (climatic, social or mercantile).

One of the main schemes that illustrates their artistic approach is the renunciation of the creative gesture and its auratic dimension, in favor of a process (that the forces of nature and time are entirely part of) that reveals the constitutive materials such as the canvas, paper, pigments. Constantly reaffirmed since they've been stated in the mid 60's, the three previously mentioned forms of deconstruction lead to a particular use of shape : the artwork becomes a mark, an imprint (Sam Falls, Christian Jaccard). To many of these artists, the pattern is a means to a recaptured innocence, (it is interesting to mention the existence of the "Pattern Painting" movement in the US, in the 70's - 80's). The work of Claude Viallat for example, has many conceptual and fundamental similarities to the work of the new generation of American artists, presented in this exhibition, such as Sam Falls or Hannah Whitaker.

Besides, the use of patterns, of their repetition, of tint areas, all suggest a global impression of planarity that goes against the notion of perspective since it brings all of the composition back to a single plane. In Astrid Svangren's work, as well as in Patrick Saytour's, a net replaces the grid pattern of space painted in perspective. "With full and empty areas, the net organizes space without constraining it with mental rigidity, it is easily recognizable with its repetitive shape distribution system. And in a similar way to perspective, by an illusion effect, distributing planes, close or far, the net plays with what is in front or behind, what is deep and what is only skin-deep, what is closed or wide open, depending on its shape modulations caused by nots and voids. Finally, the tension exchanges caused by the various sewn cloth fragments, by the canvas/wall dynamics, or by the way canvas "falls" or is being tied up, are all a key element of the pictorial display to which the shapes scansion participates by giving a single rhythm to the oftentimes heterogeneous set of backings, with the use of colors as an element of this tension" (Formes et Figures, Pierre Manuel).

In the light of both of these leading ideas, the Galerie Christophe Gaillard presents works by : Noël DOLLA, Sam FALLS, Ryan FOERSTER, Christian JACCARD, Fabian KNECHT, Guillaume LEBELLE, Oscar MURILLO, Bernard PAGÈS, Patrick SAYTOUR, Astrid SVANGREN, Claude VIALLAT, Hannah WHITAKER.

Notes on Supports/Surfaces :
This movement that signifies on one hand the frame (backing of the canvas) and on the other the canvas (its surface) appears in France in 1969 during an exhibition at the Le Havre Museum : "La peinture en question". To these artists, painting should not reveal a message anymore, but exist as it is, meaning the canvas, the pigment and the shape. This is how Claude Viallat sums up their work : "Deuzeuze used to paint frames without canvas, I used to paint canvases without frames, and, Saytour, the image of the frame on the canvas". Supports/Surfaces is committed to give similar worth to the material, the creative gesture and to the final work in such a way that the subject matter fades to the background. It questions the pictorial means and their backings : Buraglio salvages pieces of canvas and window elements that he then assembles. Dezeuze dissociates the canvas from the frame. Viallat uses recycled materials, tarpaulin, parasols…

Next Libération

l'irrévérence refait surface

14.03.2014
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