With a few real and fictional elements Johan Parent creates space which is neutral and chilly; it could be a public administration office or a company premises. However, we gradually notice that the space changes and becomes strange and disturbing. Two walls of the room, painted grey-green for the exhibition, are discreetly lit by spherical lights and equipped with fake air ducts. Black and white drawings are hung on these neutral surfaces while a green plant like those typically seen in waiting rooms decorates a corner. A third wall opens onto a tripartite projection of anonymous spaces filmed in fixed focus and recalling the subjects of the framed drawings.
Although very simple, the installation upsets our perception of space. The observer enters into an anonymous place that is sufficiently banal to be indistinguishable from hundreds of other familiar places without a specific identity. The drawings hanging in a traditional display line remind us of a gallery although they become ornamental by virtue of the incongruous but important presence of the green plant. The plant is the only natural element and it allows us to maintain contact with reality while everything else conspires to make the work virtual or theatrical, including the subject of the drawings. The labyrinthine rows of corridors, entitled “Laboratoire Vertigo”, become even more dizzying when we look at the checkered floor not, as we would expect, formed of black and white tiles, but of light tiles alternating with dark holes.
The video presenting empty and colourless places which pierce the wall through accelerated perspective, is another unsettling element. The absence of narrative detail links these three views to the drawings as well as to the strange atmosphere created by the video in which a door repeatedly opens and closes without human intervention. The absence of people, apart from imposing a disorienting and disturbing atmosphere, also forces the visitor to become an actor in the decor whether real or imaginary. The different elements create successive mises en abyme in environments where we have difficulty finding our bearings.
Virginie Piotrowski positions drawings, models, lamps and primary materials on the wall as artists distribute paint with their brushes. She has created a global and varied work which we are invited to reconstruct mentally as if we were in front of a giant constructivist painting. We as observer are free to consider the work according to our own codes, drawing on formal or semantic indices which the artist has supplied. As usual, Virginie Piotrowski works in several registers intertwining the real and virtual, image and object, realist drawing and photography. Through this play of returns, juxtapositions and confrontations, she gradually immerses us in what initially seems like an inventory, but which takes on shape and substance as we observe and voyage around it.
With a ten-metre-long wall available, the artist has chosen to express her vision in length and thus on the surface. The third dimension is created by superposing planes and by fake perspectives in drawings and photos. The wall is thus transformed into the focal point of a fixed display towards which our gaze returns from its perpetual to-ing and fro-ing between each element. The stepladder also plays an important role, together with the models and pencil drawings of scaffolding, in maintaining the idea of gigantism which abuts onto the reflecting surfaces. We are given a virtual reminder of the structure of the exhibition room but made more fragile in a translucent image superimposed on the drawings by using windows.
Virginie Piotrowski shares her thoughts and also helps us enter into the process of creating the work, as if we are in a corner of her studio. Because certain objects are simply placed against the wall, our first impression of an interrupted installation is confirmed and we are faced with ideas of temporality and implicit movement. This is reinforced by the images of a building site and built structures. The artist has created a comprehensive work which is apprehended progressively through successive levels.
Lines, grids, tracery and drip painting in muted colours make up the creative language of Anne Peverelli. Each mark seems to find its precise place on the sheet while the freedom of her gestures and the fluidity of the whole is maintained and fascinates. Although the work is at an extreme pole of abstraction it retains shadows of architectural or landscape elements which have nourished Peverelli’s artistic vision.
Where the lines form a network they create shady and light spaces whereas where they are joined at angles, they seem to depict the skeleton of an emerging structure. They are parallel and imperfect which allows us to detect the artist’s gesture. We shift continually between suggestions of space or volume and the pleasure of a paintbrush caressing a sheet of paper with precision.
Any flat surface can serve as a support; the artist selects the type most likely to result in the desired effect. For this exhibition, Anne Peverelli has chosen a triangular wall on which watercolour can be made to flow to create an implausible structure. Irregular junctions break up the monolithic surface of the wall and give it a lightness which offsets the framed A4 drawings. The two functions of a mural – as fresco and as support – are thus kept in the same register. There is also perpetual movement between large and small formats but also between flat space and volume. As an observer we follow the lines as we might follow a trail; we can pause at the drawings which open another dimension like windows onto parallel universes. We are free to re-engage with the existing images or to remain in the silence of the painting.