Destructive, constructive: two words that rang repeatedly in my mind as I walked, seemingly spellbound, through the three rooms of Loris Gréaud‘s current exhibit at the Yvon Lambert gallery, his first solo show in the six years of working with them.
You may have heard of Loris Gréaud. These days, it seems everyone has. Prolific in art, architecture, music and cinema, the 33 year old French artist, over the ten years of his career, has become an important name in the international contemporary art scene. He collaborates with scientists and sound engineers for his works. He won the Prix Ricard for young artists at the age of 26, and has since had his work shown at the Palais de Tokyo, the Biennale in Venice, the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and the Centre Pompidou, among others. His first solo film, The Snorks – A Concert for Creatures, is narrated by David Lynch and stars the British actress Charlotte Rampling. And now he brings us The Unplayed Notes, which was recently shown at the Pace Gallery in New York, and has now reached the Paris shores.
The exhibition starts with his work, “Spores”, a mass of forms in blown glass hanging from the ceiling. The sculpted glass signifies the passage of time, having been produced from the sand in hourglasses. With the flickering light bulbs encased in each glass cloud, the entire room takes on an ethereal, unreal quality.
In the second room, large, dark canvases flank the walls. Closer inspection offers us a glimpse into Gréaud’s past works, morphed from self-destruction: these are the artists’ past works, burnt down to ashes and forming lunar surface-like landscapes. Titled “Nothing Left To Falsify”, it stays true to Gréaud’s stand of “not saving individual ideas, forms, persons, but all in a perpetual combustion”.
A vast jungle in the middle of the room stems from a long-standing experiment dating back to 2006, where a neurologist recorded the electrical activity of Greaud’s brain while deep in thought over his Cellar Door project (2011). The result of this experiment are vibrations of a thought, which resonate throughout the room in “Frequency Of An Image”.
The eerie feeling of being in the tangible presence of the artists’ thoughts is made more thrilling by the air currents shaking the leaves of the domestic jungle, in sync with his patterns of thought. The room gives out an air of paranoia – the feeling of being stalked by thoughts.
A projector plays Gréaud’s film “The Unplayed Notes” in the next room. The film, which features a couple having sex until orgasm, has been shot with a thermal imaging camera originally developed for military purposes, obtained from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (don’t ask me how). The images flicker in black and white, darkening and lightening in their body heat, to the soundtrack of Sonic Youth’s guitarist Lee Ranaldo.
In the same room, meteor-like rocks are sculpted from the pages of Tom Sawyer books, a homage to the author Mark Twain, who was born in the wake of Haley’s comet in 1835, and died one day after the same comet passed by the Earth again. Twain was quoted as saying, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet”. I found “Twain’s Rocks” to be a touching tribute to life and death, coinciding with falling meteorites.
Leaving locks at the Pont des Arts to symbolize undying love between couples is common practice, and some of these locks are now part of Gréaud’s work “Tainted Love”. After having stealthily severed and collected locks from the bridge, Gréaud melted and formed them into sculptures. Does this transformation take away the meaning of these objects, or does it solidify it?
Gréaud’s cerebral wanderings and provoking installations are a play on whimsy, destruction, poetry and science. Playful and serious, The Unplayed Notes offer us a glimpse into what is undoubtedly the artists’ rising star.
The Unplayed Notes runs from October 18 to December 4 2012 at the Yvon Lambert gallery.