Max Charvolen

from body to space

February 10 - March 17, 2018


Max Charvolen

 Max Charvolen was born in Cannes in 1946. He acquired two degrees, one in art from the Nice art school and one in architecture from the Marseilles school of architecture. He was a member of the INterVENTION group (1968-1973) along with Dolla, Viallat, Saytour and Miguel, among others. He co-founded the Group 70, and did his internship as an architect in Rio de Janeiro, in the agency of Oscar Niemeyer, with whom he began a long and faithful friendship. His training as both an artist and architect is no accident. Since 1967, Max Charvolen’s work has brought this duality into play, exploring the limits between the physical space in which we develop and evolve and the symbolic space in which we represent.

This is how he naturally became one of the artists who was to be at the origins of the aesthetic current of analytical and critical painting, questioning the « immediate constituents » of painting, giving as much importance to the « creative process » as to the purely aesthetic result. Since the end of the 1970s he has been developing his work on parts of buildings, a work that examines both the means we have at our disposal to represent the world we live in and the way we take hold of it.

In this regard, Hervé Castanet wrote: « the question is not for (Charvolen) to know what « to show » means, but rather to establish, as a mental issue, a reflection on the material conditions of the act of painting. Schematically, over the last few decades, not without variations, Charvolen has covered parts of the architecture of buildings (a wall, a ceiling, a facade or, previously, even objects such as a chair) with pieces of glued canvas. The colors show the functions of the building’s places in relation to the body (the parts of the building that the body can reach, the parts it cannot, the right, the left, the top, the bottom, etc.). Then, a few days or months or years later, the pieces of canvas are detached from the surface they were glued on and exhibited, spread flat, in the space of the gallery or the museum ».

At least three results are to be derived:

1 - How does one pass from the three-dimensional space in which each of us moves as a living body to spreading this space flat into two dimensions ? On a flat exhibition wall, how do you « represent »"what is part of a building by way of covering this part ? Representation here, far from being self-evident, is a question.

2 - Reality is not obvious and is derived from invention. (...) The artist carries out operations - which he identifies with precision - in the field of painting and exhibits them… Others must then prepare to converse with him.

3 - (...) Charvolen is not a conceptual artist. His practical purpose is not the concept but the pictorial object: the canvas, the glue, the colors, and also (especially) the body, with its muscles, its strength, its limits. Charvolen often insists on how tired his body gets when he produces his large pieces. (...) The choice of colors, the materials and arrangements strike and capture the spectator’s eyes and body. If we wish to understand what Charvolen succeeds in doing, it is as beautiful as Matisse.

Hervé Castanet, director of the interdisciplinary journal "Il Particolare”,
he is a university professor and a psychoanalyst in Marseille.