Kamel Mennour

François Morellet

11 Mar - 25 Apr 2009

© Exhibition view

Kamel Mennour is pleased to present François Morellet’s first soloshow at the gallery.

A major figure in art for the last five – almost six – decades, FrançoisMorellet has been one of the leading exponents of the renewal ofgeometric abstraction in the second half of the twentieth century. Aspart of the continuation of concrete art – he discovered the work ofMax Bill during a trip to South America in 1950-51 – his research wasconsequently able to absorb ornamental details from the Alhambra inGrenada, which he visited in 1952. This duel inheritance favoured theestablishment of a so-called “systematic” syntax, which the artist hasgone on to demonstrate tirelessly, relying on a multitude of materialsand procedures. These have borne witness to innumerablerevivifications, but also to the questioning of the theoretical principlesdevised by the artist in the 1950s, notably as part of the G.R.A.V.(Groupe de recherche d’art visuel). Indeed, throughout his career, theartist has never ceased to distance himself from the restrictions of thisframework in order to commit himself to the renewal of itsfoundations, with intuition and an acute sense of (auto-)derision. Light isone of the materials for which he has a predilection, first using it in1963 in the form of electric light bulbs and later on, neon lights. Themalleability of the latter has allowed them to take on a wide range ofgeometric constellations, thereby firmly establishing them as acontinuation of his pictorial productions. His use of horizontals andverticals, diagonals and curves has, over several decades, fed arepertoire of familiar shapes that the artist has expanded andreinterpreted, with often unpredictable results. For the last twentyfiveyears, the work of François Morellet has freed itself upremarkably, ending the often deceptive asceticism of his youthfulperiods. From the 1980s onwards, the puritanical past has beensucceeded by a series of “outbursts”, as if, after a period of selfcontainment,albeit one softened by the occasional digression, he hasfelt the need to liberate the “body” of his work. The works presentedat galerie Kamel Mennour are emblematic of this liberation. Dark Light,light blue, presented at the rue Saint André des Arts site, bringstogether neon lights and paintings in a juxtaposition of two materialsregularly confronted by the artist. As for Neons by accident (2003)installed at no. 60, rue de Mazarine, these seek to establish a dialoguewith their architectural environment. Such a wealth of possibilitiesreflects the inexhaustible character of his “luminous” research,undertaken since the beginning of the 1960s.

Born in 1926 at Cholet, François Morellet lives and works in Cholletand Paris. Recognised internationally since the 1970s, and responsiblefor several private and public commissions in France as well as abroad,his work has featured in exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre, theMusée d’Orsay, the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Strasbourg’sMusée d’art contemporain, the Consortium in Dijon, the Palais desBeaux-arts in Brussels, the S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Geneva’s Musée d’artcontemporain, the Kassel Documenta, Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie, theStaatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden, the Museum of Modern Art inOxford, New York’s Brooklyn Museum, the Miami Center for the FineArts, as well as at MoMA in New York. In 2007, he was the subject ofa retrospective at the Musée d’art modern de la Ville de Paris.

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