6 September 11 October 2008
For their first personal exhibition in Gallery Anne Barrault, Qubo Gas ( that is, Laura Henno, Jef Abiézot, Morgan Dimnet) will present a set of new drawings made on various media : paper, mural, video installation...
Their studio is divided into three distinct parts, first a rather cosy area : a coffee table, reclaimed but still comfortable Danish armchairs, where you can chat, read, listen to music, a lot of vinyl records carefully standing on shelves, and a table with computer screens, and last but not least another large table with sheets of drawing paper, watercolours, inks, brushes, felt pens...
“Yes, but music first and foremost remains linked to this daily artistic practice. The title of a piece, the design of a sleeve , as well as the “insert” will act as stimuli, they are linked to the moment when I work, to hic et nunc.” (1)
The three of them have kept their eyes and ears open to all kinds of experiments, music has always been the staple diet of their artistic career. If the older generation (mine) expressed the idea of rebellion, of destruction through music, through a musical feeling in the broad sense of the term, they have quite naturally put the idea of construction in it and have integrated it into their work. They have probably found the answers to their questions in it too. So they have listened (and they still listen) a lot, and in this musical direction, they have looked a lot too, I think, at the graphic creations for Sonic Youth, Stereolab, Boredoms albums... And since we come to the question of Japonese references in their work, it is probably the Japan of an ancient Prime Mininister, a great lover of heavy metal, as well as the most extreme Japonese groups. Let us note, incidentally, that another artist whose work appears to me quite similar (but I don’t know what they think of that), VYdia Gastaldon, has made a splendid poster for one of these Japonese groups : Acid Mothers Temple. In the choice of their titles, I can see, too, but you can try to put them back in the right order, something which refers to this idea of musical experimentation , since they are curious : “Itchykoo Parc” by Small Faces, “Joy of a Toy” by Soft Machine, “Freaky Deaky” by Miles Davis, “Where is the Puzzle?” by Bonnie, “Prince” Billy...
“I know, this can sound completely unreal... But in the end, you feel it is so marvellous that it is worthwhile being done and kept. With textile, it is the height of refinement.” (2)
“Watercouleur Park” was commissioned by the Tate Gallery in 2007 within its Net Art Programme. Strata, layers of graphic shapes along with music are superimposed, blend, break apart...You make out the cut-out figures very clearly, sometimes you catch one of them, and then il will go according to the movement you give it. What is at work, in my opinion, is their “relaxed” manner of using the whole range of technology : drawing as well as using a screen, printing negatives or painting with watercolours, inkjet printing or employing felt pens... With Hokusai you already had this wish to switch from printing to painting on fans, screens...They print and show me a drawing : a form in suspense (a little like Bruno Pellasy’s “Creatures” coming straight from the submarine world), white lines on a black background, and they tell me they are going to work on this pattern with a lacemaker, that is to say the encounter with one of the most traditional techniques. Like their friend Zoë Mendelson who today works her muralist painting as if the simple page from a magazine, with the same enthusiasm, they are able and always know how to tackle the medium so “correctly”: either the surroundings as a whole, or a wall, or a mere sheet of A4 paper, and maybe more, mixing both...
In a colourful, tropical landscape,closed-in in the background, behind a cluster of rocks, a glistening expanse of water unfolds among green hills. In the middle of the blue water, a slender almost plant-like fountain scatters the four springs of paradise in the four corners of the horizon; it is the eternal fountain of life. (3)
They had asked me not to bring up vegetality and japanism too much; I had only heard , during one of our conversations, one of them being told “you are the one who was interested...” Then what does urge me to go this Monday morning towards the Guimet Museum for the Hokusai exhibition ? the subtitle “ the old man crazy about painting”? the literal translation of Ukiyo-e : “pictures of the floating world”? In the rooms, I look closely at the prints of the large and small flowers series, that of the journey along the waterfalls in various districts... And of course I find they have a lot in common with their work, first and foremost what François Cheng has brilliantly shown ( even if it is about, this time, Chinese art) as to the active function of the void, of polarity... In Qubo Gas’work, there are full and empty spaces, lines, areas, one colour or a lot of colours... The components are caught in the very movement of time. “The pictures dance around us”.
“The Japonese divide the night into several successive “evenings”, as if it were a ribbon you could cut as you like. Practical-minded and with a certain idea of everyone’s freedom and of the necessary cohesion of it, they make the night into a kind of thin flexible strip you can enter for one, two, three evenings, possibly more. Life extends till dawn, that is to say almost endlessly. Time, flexible and delightful is freed from the bonds of the day”.(4)
The world, in our back, was breathless or worse cynical, yes, we had left some avenues, but all that was so confused, sometimes, even slightly disillusioned... They have worked a lot, and still do, always curious, open... They have never hesitated about looking elsewhere for the answers to the questions they are led to ask, and one day, the question has been that of working collectively, that of the group... We mainly know musical groups; with art, it has always been a little more complicated. I for one think , since they are three, that rather say it means more objectivity, I will say it means three times more subjectivity.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”. (5)
(1) Francis Baudevin, Hello spirale!, JRP Ringier, Zurich, 2005.
(2) A Alençon la dentelle ne tient qu’à un fil ( in Alençon, lace hangs by a thread), Le Monde 2, n° 224, 31 mai 2008.
(3) Wilhelm Fraenger, Le royaume millénaire de Jérôme Bosch ( Hieronymus Bosch’s millenial realm), Editions Ivrea, Paris, 1993.
(4) Michaël Ferrier, Tokio Petits portraits de l’aube ( Tokyo short pictures at dawn), Editions Gallimard, 2004.
(5) William Shakespeare, Henry V Oxford, University Press, 1982.
with the support of Centre national des arts plastiques, Ministère de la culture et de la communication (aide à la première exposition)