Jocelyn Wolff


Group Show

24 Jun - 29 Jul 2017

Installation view
André Cadere, Miriam Cahn, Claire Chesnier, Jan Dibbets, Lena Hilton, Elodie Seguin, Francisco Tropa, Pieter Vermeersch, Franz Erhard Walther
24 June - 29 July 2017

Imagine someone pointing to a place in the iris of a Rembrandt eye and saying, “the walls of my room should be painted this colour”. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on Colour

In May 1960, Yves Klein registered at the French patent office the envelope Soleau n°63471, which contained two sheets of paper formatted 21.1 x 13 cm, on which the artist, who was used to taking such steps, claimed the international rights for Klein Blue, whose chemical formula he therein revealed1. By specifying, on the first sheet, that the mixture should never be heated directly, and on the second that the colour should be applied “with a roller, a brush or a pistol onto wood, chipboard or hardboard, supported by back cleats and covered with velum”, Klein quite clearly indicated that he was not to be the sole user. Any comparison with the epigone who, in 2016, managed to acquire exclusive rights to the use of a material, which he hadn’t even invented, made up of grey carbon nanotubes, with an absorption coefficient of 99.965%, would thus be vain. Claiming the monopoly over a (material coinciding with a) colour seems to us to be just as absurd and revolting as it did to Maurice Merleau-Ponty, when he said that something coloured cannot be disassociated from the “very experience that reveals it”.

The artists (and works) selected for this exhibition belong to complementary stories, generations and sensitivities but each of them has managed to put (back) into perspective, or even deconstruct colour or colour(s) by applying them to procedures, materials, media and protocols that position them or it at the heart of their various approaches. It thus seemed instructive to us to emphasise this dimension, with a chromatic persistence, if not obsession, to offer a few works that “spill over” from the official chronologies of certain artists and thus bring in pieces from their early youth, such as when “Cadere before Cadere” or “Dibbets before Dibbets” laid down the bases of examinations that were to become manifest later on. The presence of these works, relayed by pieces produced between the 1970s and now, means being able to review the commonplace that aims at shutting up conceptualism – with which several artists in the exhibition are associated – in a “neutral” tonality.

text: Erik Verhagen
translation: Ian Monk
1 See Didier Semin, Le peintre et son modèle déposé, Geneva, Mamco, 2001

Curated by Erik Verhagen and Jocelyn Wolff, the group exhibition surrounding the theme of color presents a selection of artists of different generations and sensibilities, spanning over a fifty-year period.

Themed, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff’s summer exhibition aims to deconstruct and reexamine the role of color in artistic practice. An exercise in delineating new approaches to a subject matter that is seemingly simple, the exhibition unites a number of works that subtly pose questions about the function and place of color in a work of art. Through the use of fading gradients, irregular layering or simple blocked pieces, the artists presented in the exhibition explore the properties of color, questioning the ways in which different shades can interact and overlap. No two shades are the same, ranging from Lena Hilton’s light geometric forms to the stormy greens, reds and purples of Miriam Cahn’s oil paintings. Proposing a clearly confined muted line or colors that are allowed by the artist to interact without blending, the paintings explore the limits of how a color can be constrained and limited. Franz Erhard Walther’s Schichtenzeichnungen include layering in a similar way, overlapping to create a pastiche that conceals as much as it reveals, with the colorful patches creating a dynamic image. Some of the works shown seem more mobile - Pieter Vermeersch’s wall piece is created with patience and precision, with shades of gray moving through the gallery space as if conducted by their own will, evenly fading yet two-directional. This uniformity subtly merges into other works, such as the painting by Claire Chesnier, whose paintings bear brushstrokes that delimit the individual colors.

The dynamic exhibition presents works that of different materials and techniques interact in a coherent yet unexpected manner, the colors in each piece seemingly spilling out. Colors are given a form and a shape, sometimes being freed from the constraints of two-dimensionality, newly imparted with an element of movement that saturates the exhibition space. While the individual supports used by the artists are in some sense incompatible in size and texture, their forms and functions are nevertheless complimentary in an aesthetic composition. The artists presented in the exhibition work with a variety of materials: ranging from glass and canvas to wood and paper. Playing on the opacity or density of materials, the works exhibited actively engage their supports in the elevation of the colors that are used. Francisco Tropa’s glass and wood sculptures stand out through the synergy of their materials, the transparency of the stained Murano glass plates touching on the perception of color in space. Elodie Seguin’s sculpture allows the brightness of color interact with the precision of the white of the wooden support, creating a contrasting piece where two unexpected shades compliment each other’s vividness. Going even further out of the ordinary, Franz Erhard Walther’s second contribution of six canvas monochrome suits is displayed suspended, creating a vivid contrast between the solid colors of the suits and the air in which they are hung, just as André Cadere’s multicolored wooden piece permeate the space in which they are placed.

With some works dating back to the 1960s, the exhibition integrates newer pieces with the older works of established artists that do not yet bear the signs of their rooted style. The works presented by Jan Dibbets span throughout his career, ranging from a bright three-toned piece that quite literally pushes the boundary of painting outwards to digital prints that seem to gravitate towards an uneven center, radiation shadows and highlights. While the interrogation of depth in a work is not unique to one artist in the exhibition, each work tends to approach the use of color in a slightly different manner. While some work on the intricacies of individual shades and their ability to fade from one into another, others focus on clearly delineated colors that stand out and work together with their environment in harmonic yet unexpected cooperation. While colors are by their very nature ever-present, the exhibition aims to showcase the ways in which they can be bent and altered through the cooperation between artist and medium.

Text Ewa Kumelowski

Tags: André Cadere, Miriam Cahn, Jan Dibbets, Yves Klein, Elodie Seguin, Francisco Tropa, Pieter Vermeersch, Franz Erhard Walther