CanevasJuly 05 - September 20, 2014
CanevasJuly 05 - September 20, 2014
Franck Chalendard’s recent works are impressive for the breadth of the questions they embody in their structure and configuration. Anyone looking at them quickly believes he can discern their sources or finds himself caught up in the game of parallels and comparisons. However, these enjoyable exercises that inspire us to demonstrate our erudition turn out to be both right but also futile. That is to say there is no real need to do so as these recent paintings confront us with an assertion of painting as a reality irreducible to what it is and what it is at stake for he who painted it and for who is looking at it. Above all, the juxtaposition of pieces of upholstery fabric, carefully assembled by a seamstress, provides the artist with a support which, evidently, suggests a kind of allegiance to Claude Viallat’s process of “splicing”. But this device is actually very consistent with what lies at the heart of Franck Chalendard’s practice and quest. This quest and this practice seem to be stimulated and strongly oriented by a kind of awareness of powerlessness to go beyond the material configuration of the painting. The artist finds himself obliged to take into account the fact that, since the end of modernism and postmodernism, anyone wanting to paint has been condemned to draw from an enormous thesaurus of forms and patterns, but also of theoretical concepts, and to bring them back to life by transforming them into generators of actioning innovations. At the risk, therefore, of having nothing more to offer than the ability to propose, in his pictures, in his own works, a design borrowed from suitable arranged vintage visions that have once again become suitable for use on the contemporary art scene as constitutive markers of contemporary good taste!
This risk was taken on in remarkable fashion, and even overcome and transcended, by some major artists in the 1980s. And again by a few current artists among whom, along with Franck Chalendard, we should mention Sadie Laska, Lauren Luloff and also Sarah Braman. Hence their interest in Claude Viallat and Supports/Surfaces from whose work of deconstruction they benefit. But, fortunately, these artists also take precautions against any submission to a theoretical apparatus. Beyond a simple and happy predilection, like Franck Chalendard himself, they display the respect due to a pioneer who has paved the way, but who must at all costs be left behind, put aside, in order to refresh the stage. I mean, here, resume the history of painting as at its end, today, and as at its outset. Making, painting, in a way, the first picture and refining the process of production in a brief series until arriving at what should be (impossible task) the last picture, finally, rendering vain any hint of reiteration in the gesture of painter. This is why Franck Chalendard seems to me very little concerned with the deconstruction of the picture and less eager to work on the properties of the support than to exploit them. The repetition of figurative or even abstract patterns in his works, massively disseminated by fashion and furniture fabrics, aims to render manifest the very inanity of painting. And tear it away from design. Like with Bram Van de Velde? No doubt. But today everything seems to have been done. Philip Taaffe, Ross Bleckner, Susanne Paesler, even Christine Streuli, have already played this register, this dialectical relationship between pictorial art and textiles, as had already been explored by Alois Riegl and later, among others, by Markus Bruderlin. And in his own way, in his early days, also by Meyer Vaisman. By accepting this observation, Franck Chalendard has condemned himself, to assure us of the vanity of all Kunstwollen, paradoxically, to paint, to paint constantly, to resume his work as a painter, picture after picture, by deploying and making use, picture after picture, all of abstract painting, all painting, to free it from history, from its burial, from its withering away, from its death, from death. But he who defies Thanatos, Zeus, time or history, must pay the price. For Franck Chalendard, this means the heroic recommencement, without respite, of painting: painting, painting, painting ...
Painting is a simple, but very learned gesture, a gesture that you have to dare and which, each time, liberates painting from all that could degrade it or reduce it to the level of design, to the production of simple unnecessary objects, archaeological evidence of a single day, of the taste of a moment. In this quest – albeit anchored in a formalism suspending any narrative effect – for a je ne sais quoi, as Pierre Soulages would say, that fills the world, Franck Chalendard, like Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Claude Viallat or Frank Stella, strives as the latter incited, to prevent painting from remaining “inert on the surface of the past”: to “testify to the real world, but also to the kingdom of heaven and hell”.
Artist : Franck Chalendard
Ceysson & Bénétière