Aurélien Froment’s “documentary style” not only reveals existing forms, but it also determines other ways of dreaming them by seeking the right transformation, that enables the past to build a future. The artist aims at making an effort of imagination to connect himself to faraway things in order to put them on a common stage and determine their importance together. In this light, he has conceived the inventory of the elements constituting the Ideal Palace of postman Cheval, a work of architecture which is so intense that only a closer vision may contribute to shedding light on this “work of one man”, concerned about his own pace. What these figures (imaginary animals, plants, ornaments, etc) carved in rock and photographed separately depict, is a different life pulse, a rhythm that the world needs as a kind of support. Aurélien Froment mobilises and engages us through the awareness of singularities like the latter. These pieces translate performative thinking in relation to preexisting works: they seek to stress the path that starts with the gesture and leads towards the form, and vice versa. The exhibition will always be, for the artist, a way of not forgetting what might be called “the arising of the gesture” – the way in which the gesture enables us to truly make use of forms as much as it helps us become receptive.
CB: It seems to me that the exhibition at the gallery is concerned about speaking for itself, as a space for debate, with its rhythms, punctuations and tendencies. Using coloured rope, Aurélien Froment spatialises the idea of a succession of events over time, reduced to an expressly visual arts language. This rope admits all kinds of rhythms, allowing us to feel them through its form – tight, less tight, straight, oblique, tied – which reveals the space without any real disruption. The colour progression on its surface contributes to making the question of continuity, as the founding principle of the creative gesture, even more striking. Aurélien Froment has always searched for this continuity by questioning his own work and the recurring patterns that he has sheltered ever since his first pieces. It is through the rope and the tapestry that it comes down to film and, more specifically, to the movie theatre. The movie theatre is undoubtedly the place where one can become aware of a form of totality, through the revelations borne by the screen as well as that which should fade away in the surroundings. Nothing is canceled, as is the case for the art of tapestry, all the representations spread, overflow from panel to panel, calculating an infinity of entries and exits. With the rope, the woven fibres express themselves and match with the place welcoming them. It is a story about learning to feel that precedes reading and knowledge. I consider this exhibition as one of Aurélien’s most earthly or “Solerian” gestures, by which the image is above all fabric, light and colour.
IA: I agree with you. Aurélien returns to this issue of materiality in a recent interview published in the book Artists as Iconographers (ed. Empire/Villa du Parc, 2018). According to him, materiality, “as well the context in which it emerges, participate in the information content and the meaning of images.” The tapestry of the Apocalypse strikingly illustrates this idea in that it presents one side which has been discoloured by the sun and another side whose surface has been kept away from light. The representations illustrating the account of the revelation of John of Patmos thus come to us in two « versions », which are both viewable since the tapestry presents the particularity of having been woven using a technique that makes it impossible to differentiate the front from the back side. Aurélien’s film (Apocalypse, 2017) brings together the colouration grades of each panel into a single image, showing the materiality of the object in all its history. It gathers together different – visual but also sound – versions of the tapestry, by superimposing the images of the artefact and the texts written and vanity-published in 1906 and 1913 by Jean-Pierre Brisset, an inventor, grammarian and prophet. As interpretations of the account of the revelation using delirious etymology, these writings recall the more contemporary, babbling works of Ghérasim Luca, and embody, through Olwen Fouéré’s singular voice, a form of resistance to scientific discourse, which would precisely reduce the tapestry to its materiality. Coming from Angers, Aurélien has, it seems to me, given particular attention to representing these familiar images. There is obvious proximity in the film, as well as in his work around the creations of figures such as Paolo Soleri, Friedrich Fröbel, Ferdinand Cheval, Giulio Camilo ou Raoul Ruiz: « I belong to the image as much as it belongs to me », he states in the same interview.
CB: I regard the rope installation as a beautiful metaphor for this symbiotic and somehow shamanic encounter with that which is in front of us, if one considers that nothing is inert. The rope underlines the artist’s desire to act with enough distance from everyday life in order to avoid getting confined, preferring to be exposed to other ways of being and styles. I think that by drawing upon existing works whose own rhythm is already powerful, Aurélien rightly creates a sufficient distance from reality which many contemporary artists don’t negotiate well, probably due to their self-protective attitude. I like to think of this rope as an experience bearing a pace that is not imposed, rhythms that are more subterranean and troubling and that have to do as much with our interiority as with these flower roots whose juice helps produce the tapestry’s thousand shades.
IA: There is a connection between the colours travelling across the rope and the film’s cross-fades as well as between the knots punctuating its extension and these word-dissection games undertaken by Olwen Fouéré. A specific feature of Aurélien’s work is to play with associations, as was already the case with the film Rabbit (2009), between the composition of coloured knots and a mnemonic nursery rhyme, which enables us to remember one of them. Almost ten years later, the knots have asserted their pictorial autonomy within the exhibition space, and the nursery rhyme plays on the meanings and discards illustration. « Welcome to the iconocene, where one would acknowledge images’ transformative power on the world, their right to speak as much as their right to remain silent. » The closing words of Aurélien’s previously quoted interview perfectly accompany our recent programming: they resonate with the silence imposed by Cool Balducci and with the place given to birds by Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet. They reinforce our persistent wish to let the works express what they are.
(translation: Callisto Mc Nulty)
Aurélien Froment was born in France in 1976; he lives in Edinburgh (Scotland). Many institutions have organised solo presentations of his work, including: The Wattis Institute (San Francisco) ; Badischer Kunstverein (Karlsruhe) ; Le Crédac (Ivry-sur-Seine) ; Gasworks (London) ; Montehermoso (Vitoria, Spanish Basque country) ; Bonniers Konsthalle (Stockholm) and Palais de Tokyo (Paris). He participated in the Sydney Biennial (2014), the Venice Biennial (2013), the Lyon Biennial (2011) and the Gwangju Biennial (2010). In 2014, his exhibition Fröbel Fröbeled, which was first presented at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver, toured to Villa Arson (Nice, France), Spike Island (Bristol, UK), Heidelberger Kunstverein (Germany) and Le Plateau/FRAC Ile de France (Paris). Les Abattoirs (Toulouse, France) and M Museum (Leuven, Belgium) hosted two retrospective shows, respectively in 2016 (with Raphaël Zarka) and 2017. A monograph entitled Three Double Tales was published this year in French, German and English (Dent-de-Leone ed.)