September 17 - October 15, 2016
There is a kind of mysticism at work in Franck Chalendard’s painting. Each of his series seems to advance in a spiral fashion, questioning the paint in a slightly paradoxical manner, by including it in the register of a determined number of pictures, usually one that allows for its physical placement in the studio, and tends towards an unfinished status, that of the unlimited nature of its range. Even within the series, each canvas extends into another to suggest a possible beyond, in a kind of diversion of the gaze. We know his grammar made of coloured puddles, tablecloths, circles, squares, flat strips, interlacings, garlands, canvas, decals and counterpoints, and the different series that enable him to enter the heart of painting. In this comprehensive examination of possible variations, in this constantly renewed testing of the possibilities of abstraction, a spiral motion is created towards a kind of vacuum that might be the very Essence of painting, a somewhat mystical desire, driven by evident asceticism of his practice of ridding the picture of everything it might convey as anecdotal. His is rigorous work but which does not spurn the seduction of colour, contained in the material nature of its coloured surface without symbolic value, and which stands apart from the gesture, far from expressionism, lyricism or any possible self-expression.
The recent series of graphs falls into this development. On the monochrome painted surfaces of backgrounds, we find the same puddles of colour applied in a free movement of the brush, but then some lines traced with a spray paint enter into dialogue with them. Lines which in previous series still revealed the material trace of the passage of the brush on the canvas and affirmed the historical weight of its use in painting, but which here have broken free of the physical contact between the tool and the canvas. A masterful distancing of the gesture, and supplementary distancing from the painter’s cursor reveals, in a sort of active humility, the progressive detachment of the close tussle all painters have with the support and the traditional materials of painting. This detachment, however, does not cancel the emotion born of colour; we are still drawn to these amazing itineraries of painted aerosol lines, and the eye follows them as it might have followed that of an burning branch agitated in the night, when the entire surface of the picture lights up with this drawing of retinal persistence, this trace of an afterglow of colour. These lines go beyond the frame and end in nothingness outside the picture, sometimes following the angles as though prevented from flowing out, and sometimes remaining wholly on the surface of the canvas. We can guess at the game under way in these gauche arabesques, that of the gesture of the hand that has taken precedence over the eye, following the hand’s wishes and its ability to become a tool. The eye can then relieve itself of its repressive rationality which Barthes spoke about with regard to Cy Twombly, and just the hand guides the line. Left-handed painting, painting blind: this is what we think, hesitating between the simple act of recording the line and sign-line, already in an indecision which, associated with color, enables the seduction that arises from a light without light.
And in this widening spiral, in these successive variations in the work of Franck Chalendard, what always stands out is paint. This presence that places us beyond aesthetic pleasure, in the epiphany of what we see of it.
Ceysson & Bénétière
23 rue du Renard 75004 Paris