Outside the walls
Ben and guests
Art on the horizon
The Conciergerie – La Motte-Servolex
From October 2 to December 18, 2021
Exhibition view, Photos Anne-Laure Wuillai
Group exhibition with the artists BEN, Olivier Mosset, Claude Viallat, Geoffrey Hendricks, Benoît Barbagli, Tom Barbagli, Gérald Panighi, Charlotte Pringuey-Cessac, Marc Chevalier, Franck Saïssi and Anne-Laure Wuillai.
Curator: Eva Vautier
This imaginary line represents the junction between the sky and the land or the sea from the viewer’s perspective. This limit of the world, which does not stop moving with us, seems always within reach. Both a frontier and a future, the horizon line has pushed man’s curiosity beyond his world to see what lies beyond.
One of the first works of Ben Vautier is a line dated 1955, he will then sign the horizon on the Promenade des Anglais in 1962. The skyline becomes a work of art and its property. The gesture having been repeated many times, many horizons became his. It is a starting point of the artist’s path and the incursion into the deep worlds of everyday life. Starting from the landscape around him, he moves towards the philosophy of human nature and ends up exploring the depth of the soul. The gestures and words that make up Ben’s work may seem trivial, commonplace, even mundane, but they systematically provoke reflection.
This exhibition brings together Ben’s historical works, as well as unpublished ones, and those of ten artists who approach their artistic world with the same impetus, while seeking answers in different horizons. Thus, Art on the Horizon will also bring you into the worlds of Gérald Panighi, Benoît Barbagli, Charlotte Pringuey-Cessac, Tom Barbagli, Olivier Mosset, Marc Chevalier, Anne-Laure Wuillai, Claude Viallat, Franck Saïssi and Geoffrey Hendricks.
Eva Vautier, exhibition curator
Art on the horizon | the horizon of art
The straight line, often the simplest path but the most difficult to take and to draw, forms a demarcation, a border. It is represented by a starting point and an end point linked by a line. At the same time limit and link, like the horizon, the fictitious line between the sky and the earth, it is the beginning of the mystery. To appropriate the horizon, as Ben Vautier did when he signed it in 1962, to concretize it with a line, is to create a gesture that masters the limit, gives a direction, then a meaning. By the gesture, or the action of signing what has not been claimed, Ben embraces several artistic currents such as Marcel Duchamp’s “ready-made” and the international Fluxus movement which found, in his store in the rue Tonduti-de- l’Escarène, a headquarters in France. Fluxus advocates the non-art or anti-art, militates to erase the limit between art and life. It is a movement of energy to embrace the fluidity between artistic expressions by breaking down the barriers between the arts and what is considered a work of art. This is how limits and boundaries are always explored, pushed and questioned. The group takes over the individuality of the artist but the ego does not disappear completely, it is moreover clearly claimed by Ben. The path we are going to follow begins with lines and dots, it wanders through the history of contemporary art to better realize how vital art is for the future of Man.
In the beginning there is the point, the anchor. Point of departure or point of arrival, Olivier Mosset has represented it in a circle on a canvas.
The beginning of a line that can easily be imagined as the transcription of the first conscious trace left by Man to last. Coal in hand, the primitive gesture staged by Charlotte Pringuey-Cessac in a video, “Line”, finds its place as an introduction to the exhibition, materializing the horizon line that primitive Man discovered when he straightened up, pushing him to discover a distant landscape. He will survey the territory, climb the mountains, as Benoît Barbagli did, in search of a suitable place to create a collaborative work with nature by throwing ink and then thanking it by offering bouquets of flowers, offerings to the vital forces. Blocked by the water, the man will analyze it to try to cross it. He then meets part of the work of Anne-Laure Wuillai who catalogs the colors of the coastline, the waters, creates waves, all with as much scientific rigor as beauty and delicacy in the nuances.
Franck Saïssi takes the visitor on a fantastic expedition through his Indian ink drawings. The ship sails on a calm sea, the men are attracted by a phenomenon, caught by the sky. It is the crossing in the intimate and spiritual world. Tom Barbagli’s marine compass directs us through the exhibition. His work, based on a solid knowledge of engineering, diverts technique to add poetry to common objects and phenomena. His works are a perfect introduction to those of Geoffrey Hendricks; an artist also associated with the Fluxus movement, he worked on the sky by making daily representations of it, a “cloudsmith”.
The heavens have always fascinated men, often representing the divine, the spiritual, the incorporeal and the eternal, what Dante defines as “incorruptible things” in The Monarchy.
In contrast, the earth represents the corporeal, the material and time, “corruptible things”. As for Man, he has a special place, he is “the only being that occupies the middle between corruptible things and incorruptible things; that is why philosophers rightly equate him with the horizon, which is in the middle of the two hemispheres.”
The rope of Claude Viallat helps us to pass between these two worlds. Marc Chevalier, on the terrestrial side, accumulating strokes, has created a network of superimposed paths, a labyrinth that also traces a reading grid. From the accumulation of limits is born the structured organization and the communication since there are plenty of junctions. The line, figuratively speaking, thus represents a means of articulating thoughts and concepts. It allows to explore the external world and to probe the inner world of the human being who lives in it.
It is the organization of the features which formed the first cuneiform writing. It then evolved, the junction of the distinct signs gave birth to other writings. It is in the curve that the modern layout of our alphabets will be made, in particular, that so recognizable of the writing of Ben. From being a limit, the line has naturally become a link, a means of communication and expression. A worthy representative and promoter of Fluxus, Ben completely adhered to the manifesto edited by George Maciunas, particularly in the desire to “PROMOTE A REVOLUTIONARY FLOOD AND TIDE IN ART.” The promotion of art “living, anti-art, promote THE NON-ARTISTIC REALITY so that it is understood by all people, not only critics, dilettantes and professionals.”
Gérald Panighi’s work, through his illustrations attached to quotations, deals with the superficial and deep aspects of human nature, their discrepancy makes them funny. A humor often black and self-deprecating, rarely mean.
Presented in a cloud, these illustrated thoughts echo those of Ben. These timeless phrases combined with the almost antiquated drawings place the visitor in the “Here” and “Now”. They make him, like Ben, ask questions and reflect on their situation, their condition or their history.
Having gone off to explore in different directions, the artistic paths came together around Ben.
From the straight line to the curve of the sea, the jumps in the void, the movements of the sky and the planets, the artist necessarily rethinks the place of Man in his universe. By looking back on the creation, the spectator finds himself facing his creator. By running in pursuit of this unattainable goal, because it is always in motion, it is the source of humanity that we explore, its motivations and its concerns.
This horizon was at the beginning a promise of a better and different world for the first explorers, the road travelled is systematically an opportunity to reflect on our own journey, the encounters we make and the lessons we learn. On the temple of Delphi it was inscribed “Know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe and the Gods”, the opposite finds its meaning in our world where Man begins to realize that he is a tiny part of his universe and owes his existence to what surrounds him.
Dante Alighieri, De Monarchia, 1312-1313
George Maciunas, Fluxus Manifesto, 1963