Mise en abyme
With the delicacy of a goldsmith, David Curchod transforms paper into fragile silhouettes. His labyrinthine structures are composed of skeletons, stamped leaves, women without faces, visceral forms and tattoos. In networks of repeated elements there is apparent chaos but the work is orchestrated by symmetries and matches of shape and colour. The artist addresses themes which he dismantles and reforms in a nearly obsessional manner and in exhaustive detail to create a series of subtle variation in tone and arrangement. Pieces are cut, sometimes finely perforated, and then placed in layers which progressively increase the complexity of the whole and create depths, spaces and solids, shadows and light. Like a kaleidoscope, the works reveal themselves gradually, layer by layer, unveiling surreal universes nested in each other like dreams and memories.
Xavier Bauer’s installations ask questions about the essence of an image at the instant it is observed. The photograph turned to the wall and cut into thin strips, lets light filter through creating a transient reflection reminding us of the black and white origins of photography, but here the ink is immaterial. The work indefinitely repeats the magic wrought by the developing fluid which conjures up the photographic image on light-sensitive paper. The subject of the work is dependent on the play of light and shadow which reproduces ephemeral and shifting copies according to the intensity of the light.
It is the labile frontier between the image’s appearance and disappearance which is important, and which becomes the enigma that the observer tries to solve. In working through this, the observer is invited to question the very nature of what she is seeing. The movement of the emerging image is more marked in the series of thermochromic screens on which the mirage is glimpsed. Finally, in Oxymoron, which is a block of compressed cinders, the ambiguity of visual perception is intensified by the apparent solidity of the sculpture which can, however, be reduced to powder again with a puff of air.
By manipulating a space in order to change perception of it, the Barbezat-Villetard collective challenges visitors’ ways of looking. Using various materials the two artists fashion simple geometric forms such as flat surfaces, or lines that may be translucent, opaque, coloured or bright. The restrained and pared- down installations are created for a specific place and they immediately raise questions about it, force a new perception of it. By using netting, neon or sheets of glass, the artists admit their willingness to use manufactured materials and to divert them from their primary function. A double dislocation, of space and of the object, is the result. Neon is the geometrical catalyst, sprayed lines reshape the exhibition space, cut-out and undulating paper introduce a third dimension and glass sheets become precariously balanced sculptures. Each artistic creation is shaped by its location although a constant single vision develops from one commissioned work to another.
/// Xavier Bauer
/// David Curchod