until 05.02. | #3238ARTatBerlin | Galerie kajetan Berlin shows from 3rd December 2021 the exhibition Malereien II by the artist Claude Viallat.
Galerie kajetan is pleased to present Malereien II, the second solo exhibition in Berlin of Claude Viallat, pioneer of the French avant-garde movement Supports/Surfaces* and virtuoso of painterly self-reference. Already in the 1960s, the artist originating from and working in Nîmes questioned the medium of painting and its limits. He detached the canvas from its stretcher, painted on found and sometimes used fabrics of industrial manufacture in order to completely cover them in the end with an independent, neither organic nor geometric form – a form that still characterises his powerful fabric paintings today. The gallery shows a selection of his most recent works.
Almost disguised, in a kaleidoscopic abundance of colour and format, the gallery spaces present themselves, documenting Claude Viallat’s painterly work, which is as complex as it is reduced in its form. A treasure trove of the most diverse fabrics, removed from everyday use, which serve the artist as painting grounds for his typical pattern of templates, having become his signature. Whether tablecloths, patterned bed sheets, tent tarpaulins or felt sheets – Viallat equally elevates every textile, no matter how seemingly mundane, to a carrier of his splendid all-over painting.
Today, his unusual picture carriers are mainly donations, everyday materials that have lost their usefulness for their former owners or new remnants that have been withdrawn from the recycling circuit. Value-free, the artist collects all the materials unsorted in his studio, until he revives them in his daily creative phases in a painterly and conceptual way. His working process is characterised by an analytical approach that is always open-ended – it is the quality of the base fabrics themselves, their degree of conservation, fabric density, colourfulness and ornamentation, to which the artist reacts with a broad palette of colours.
Initially, the individualised approach to the single painting grounds appears to contradict Viallat’s recurring grid of forms, which he has perfected over the years. But it is precisely its basic form – the shape once found by chance, rounded at its corners –, that allows him to react artistically to the particularities of the carrying fabric after in-depth analysis and not, for example, the other way round, to capture artistic motifs in an undistinguished way on the picture support. Using stamps and stencils, Viallat applies acrylic paint sometimes thicker, other times thinner to the fabrics loosely spread out on the floor. In his artistic practice he focuses on the variety of reactions of the fabric base to the painting, always resulting in advanced pictorial inventions.
Left: Claude Viallat | 2021 / 271 | 2021 | Acrylic on fragments of sheet | 186 x 192 cm
Right: Claude Viallat | 2020 / 369 | 2020 | Acrylic on assembled tarpaulin and fabrics | 272 x 86 cm
Courtesy Claude Viallat, galerie Ceysson & Bénétière, Galerie kajetan | Photo: Marcus Schneider
In this way, the artist has been revaluating the process of painterly image production for more than 50 years, which from now on no longer takes possession of a neutral painting ground such as a primed canvas, which has to be covered by the artist. Rather, Viallat exposes the central pictorial elements and understands painting in its pure materiality, which interacts with the painting ground and thus identifies it as an equal creative element. Consequently, his net-like form repeatedly applied onto the fabric can be read as a counter-form. While the serial compound of the basic form structures the image base, the surfaces of the painting ground on their turn contour the individual modules. Similar to a visually ambiguous picture, Viallat thus confronts us with at least two possible, yet equally valid views of his individual pictorial inventions and consistently transfers the form and content debate of the Supports/Surfaces movement* of the early 1970s into the present.
Declaring the fundamental elements of a picture to be its content, Viallat minimises everything gestural by means of repeated paint application and sharpens our eye for the construction of the picture and the process of painting, its conditions and determinations. Traces of usage of the original textiles or by former installations as well as those of transport and storage inscribe themselves in his paintings in the form of fabric folds. They come alongside his all-over painting, which refuses to guide the viewer’s gaze. Although the orientation by the basic form, its diagonal alignment, is fixed, his patchwork pieces often offer at least two different possibilities of hanging or singular works offer equivalent recto-verso views. To date, the artist thus radically breaks with our visual conventions and expectations of painting.
Thanks to this conceptual stringency, we are looking at an œuvre that ingeniously tears down hierarchical structures, repeatedly shatters presumed boundaries and thus unites high art and applied art into a pulsating, self-mediating image.
Claude Viallat is one of the most significant international innovators of contemporary art. His works have been shown in renowned institutions, including the MOMA, New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, the Musée des Beaux Arts in Montréal and the National Museum of Art in Osaka. In 1988, he represented France at the Venice Biennial.
Eliza Grabarek M.A.
*The French artist group Supports/Surfaces was founded by Daniel Dezeuze, Patrick Saytour and Claude Viallat. They focused on the exploration of different forms of expression by means of the image carrier (French: support) and the image surface (French: surface). The group’s main creative period was between 1970 and 1974. “Dezeuse painted frames without canvas, I painted canvases without frames and Saytour painted the image of a frame on canvas.” (Claude Viallat)
Opening: Friday, 3rd December 2021, 6:00 – 9:00 pm.
Exhibition dates: Friday, 3rd December 2021 – Saturday, 5th February 2022to the gallery
Image caption title image: Claude Viallat | 2020 / 314 | 2020 | Acrylic on fabrics | 160 x 202 cm | Courtesy Claude Viallat, galerie Ceysson & Bénétière, Galerie kajetan | Photo: Marcus Schneider
Exhibition Claude Viallat – Galerie kajetan Berlin | Zeitgenössische Kunst – Contemporary Art – Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin