© Pedro Cabrita Reis

Pedro Cabrita Reis: Favorite Places #1, 2004
aluminium, bois, verre, néon,
dimensions 260 x 120 x 120 cm

Ascenseur pour Rio
Elevator to Rio

Cecile Bart
, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Gaylen Gerber, Dominique Ghesquiere, Federico Guzman, MP & PM Rosado, Allen Ruppersberg

This group exhibition, organised by the Burgundy Frac, brings together works by seven artists. Some of the works on show belong to the Frac collection, and some have been borrowed. Photography, painting, sculpture and installation are the artists' means of conjuring up the real through its absences. Erasure, disappearance and off-screen space are used to lead the viewer away from the real, all the better to reveal it.

The exhibition, "Ascenseur pour Rio" (Elevator to Rio), aims to show the common ground shared by works that can seem very different at first glance. These works are not shown with the intention of illustrating a theme, but rather as presences in space that bring to light singular sense effects. The title of the exhibition suggests a situation in which one finds oneself shut up for a short time in a closed space, which then opens onto another point of view - in this case a very faraway one. Reality, veiled and unveiled, reveals itself. The different works in combination give off a feeling of latency and suspension.

The exhibition is being held in a very particular environment: the works are shown against Gaylen Gerber's "Backdrop", a piece that was shown for the first time in 1998. The exhibition space has been covered for the occasion by a background paper that has been folded at regular intervals. The room's architecture disappears behind the texture of the paper, bringing about a change in our perception of the space, but also of the exhibition structure itself and the other works shown. The artist sees his work both as an object in its own right and as a background for other works. His proposition also determines the way in which we are invited to react to the exhibition. Immersing ourselves in one work after another, we are led - through the process of changing perceptions - to seek our own place in an experience that is constantly renewing itself.

In "Premiere donne" (2002), a piece that Cecile Bart created for the Catherine Issert gallery in Saint-Paul de Vence, the viewer is encouraged to penetrate the space of the work. Eight paintings surround the central area. They are freestanding, screen-like expanses of sheer Tergal - each one painted a different colour - stretched on two-square-metre chassis. At each end a chassis has been left empty, leaving the viewer with the possibility of passing through it, experiencing the inside and the outside of the work's space, while visions of colour alternate with fragments of the surrounding reality, appearing and disappearing like "in situ, real time cinema", to quote the artist.

Artists have always been interested in the way in which the real appears in the folds of fiction. This is what lies behind Allen Ruppersberg's "Doing Nothing" (1971-1999), a collection of twenty black and white photos that bring to mind a sequence of film stills. A man - the artist in person - is shown walking towards the entrance to an underground passage, carrying a chair. He disappears down the stairs, and the following images show only the empty street. The apparent emptiness of the images has the curious effect of filling them with a sort of immanence. The artist has introduced an unusual detail - the chair - as if to set in motion a narrative. The way in which space and time connect, in this sequence, determines the overall principle of the works selected.

"Insomnio" and "Con un ojo en la puerta" (2003) by MP & PM Rosado show the way in which the body can be altered by building and architecture in incongruous situations. The first of these painted resin sculptures represents a man pinned to the ground by an architectural detail that is difficult to identify: is it a piece of floor or a portion of roof? In the second, a man is leaning against a wall, holding up a door. These improbable, not to say absurd, situations immediately set in motion a narrative, suggesting an off-screen continuation of the scene. And the viewer, whose real space has been invaded, is confronted with his own body, his own place, caught up in the illusion.

In Federico Guzman's work these questions of representation become mixed up with real experience. "Fuego vagabundo", "La balinera" and "Trabajo en proceso" were all three made in 2003 for the exhibition "La metáfora viaja en bus" at the Pepe Cobo Gallery in Seville, the artist's native city. "La balinera" - a mural relief containing a coloured prism - immerses the viewer in a palette of colours. The phenomenon of colour is shown as an experience of everyday life: in "Fuego vagabundo" colour shimmers, in "Trabajo en proceso" it glows in the night. The motif originates in the observation of natural forms, represented in their hypnotic aspect, while the effect is simultaneously undone by the DIY-type facture.

Illusion and its many possibilities are integral to Dominique Ghesquiere's work. She reroutes objects, stripping them of their function and leaving them with a look of abandonment. Her "Mirror" (Miroir, 2002) has lost its tain, abolishing all possibility of reflection. "Newspapers" and "Puddle" (Les journaux, flaque, 2003) lie scattered on the floor, diluting time as well as newsprint. These works project the viewer into a strange space-time, a shifting place somewhere between truth and falsehood. Standing in front of these objects, banal as they may be, one feels destabilised by what one sees and what one thinks one has seen, by the veil of time thrown over the real.

For Pedro Cabrita Reis, form comes into being inside the always-fragile equilibrium between the memories of what has once been, and memory's grasp of the present. His sculpture, "Favorite Places #1" (2004), is built around a core of emptiness. The proportions of the sculpture are reminiscent of a lift and, by association, of the space taken up by a body. Each surface, except the floor, is made up of a piece of wood, glass or marble, breaking up the regularity of volumes. Truncated height, overlaps, cutouts and slippages: the structure exists in equilibrium between a rigid framework and the dynamic introduced by the other surfaces. Neon light is also part of the equation. The work brings to mind scores of images, wavering between the high-tech steel and glass vocabulary of so many modern buildings and the mouldings and painted wood of old-fashioned buildings.

Whether they are placed well inside the limits of the site, or are left to explore the borders and extremities, the works shown here, each in their own way, tackle the real through its negative imprint, the traces of its absence.

Claire Legrand

Exposition: 29.1. - 19.3.2005
Heurs: Lu-Sa 14 - 18 h

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