BACK TO THE PEINTURE
EXHIBITION from June 22 at 11:00 AM to September 30 at 7:00 PM
OPENING on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM
La Station presents the exhibition Back to the peinture: bringing together the artists Dominique Figarella, Yann Gerstberger, Tom Giampieri, Virginie Hervieu-Monnet, Adrien Vescovi and We Are The Painters, it questions the influence that Supports/Surfaces may have had on young French creation. Back to the peinture echoes The Surface of the East Coast / From Nice to New York  presented in the exhibition space of the 109, it highlights the connections between the Supports/Surfaces artists and the young New-York artistic scene.
In 1969, for an exhibition at the Havre museum entitled La peinture en question (The Painting In Question), Vincent Bioulès, Louis Cane, Marc Devade, Daniel Dezeuze, Noël Dolla, Jean-Pierre Pincemin, Patrick Saytour, André Valensi, Bernard Pagès and Claude Viallat declared: « The subject of the painting is paint itself and the pictures exhibited only refer to themselves. They do not call for an « elsewhere » (the personality of the artist, his/her biography, art history, for example). They do not offer any way out, because the surface, by its changes in forms and colors that take place on it, prohibits mental projections or the oneiric ramblings of the viewer. The paint is a fact in itself and it is on its ground that problems should be laid out. It is neither about going back to the sources, nor searching for an original purity, but the simple undressing of pictorial elements that constitute the pictorial fact. Hence the neutrality of the works presented, their lack of lyricism and of expressive depth. »
Influenced by the BMPT movement, the Supports/Surfaces group adopted a critical posture towards the picture and turned the analysis of its essential components – the medium and the surface – the very elements of its plastic reflection. Officially founded in 1970 on the occasion of an emblematic exhibition at the ARC (Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris) the group, experiencing political tensions, dissolved in 1972. Supports/Surfaces will thus only have officially had two years of existence, but the questionings it will have brought up are still extended today. On the one hand because most of these artists are still alive and are still active; on the other because they strongly influenced the next generations of creators.
The artists of Back to the peinture are a part of them; borrowing from their elders some concepts and processes, they take possession of tabular and pictorial problematic to update them.
In this exhibition, Dominique Figarella plays the role of the generational relay: the works presented, coming from Noël Dolla’s collection, were made in 1994/1995 while the former was the assistant of the latter. The influence of Supports/Surfaces is of course undeniable, but Figarella emancipated himself: his works certainly offer a constitutive analysis of the picture but already integrate a reflection on the process and on the viewer, that will later take a more pregnant part in his work.
Yann Gerstberger’s tapestries, also echo, because of their materials (floor cloths unstitched then reassembled) the works of Noël Dolla. However his aesthetics depart from it by leaning on an iconography coming from the internet, he himself calls « post-earthquake » or « post-world », a sort of merry apocalypse. His colored works are marked with many references, inspired by the latest GoPro clips of bodyboarder Andre Botha in Skeleton Bay, as well as Californian African American assemblage sculpture of the 70s.
If the works of Vescovi and Hervieu-Monnet remind some Supports/Surfaces experiences (Viallat’s horizontal work for the former, Dezeuze’s grids for the latter), they also refer us to Antiform. These artists take advantage of gravity to give form to their works and delegate the gesture to the matter: Vescovi frees the canvas from the frame, he leaves it hanging nonchalantly or transforms it into a hammock; Hervieu-Monnet takes advantage of the heaviness of the wool in distended colored grids.
Adrien Vescovi, Tom Giampieri and Yann Gerstberger use their vegetal and animal decoctions to dye their canvases, bringing thus the pictorial fact to its essence, color. If with Vescovi these colors give abstract or random patterns, Tom Giampieri, by making his own silk-screen tools, leads his experiences in a way to sometimes make figures appear, while Yann Gerstberger takes possession of the weaving techniques to compose mostly figurative works. These ancestral know-hows are found here diverted by these artists, who look for serendipity rather than a fully mastered result.
We Are The Painters turn the picture over, even the institution receiving them: chairs for museum attendants tipped over reveal feminine portraits and landscapes on their back, their feet ostensibly turned towards us. The usual object is here diverted, questioning the pictorial fact outside of the tabular field. But the duo leads us further, in a personal mythology composed with obsessional figures that form their signature and in which the role of each is undetermined.
From the « silent narration » of Georges Bataille passing by Rosalind Krauss’ « grid » all the way to Deleuze’s « pre-pictorial », it is also at a critical field that these artists’ works let us get a glimpse. These historical references are here confronted with uninhibited attitudes: if with them painting is thought by and for its fundamentals (the « made in itself »), these artists bring back the notion of play into them, refocus their actions on the pleasure to make. Resolutely trans-historical, these artists depart from the radicalism necessary at the time of Supports/Surfaces but perpetuating their legacy. In multiple ways their works reinvent the pictorial question, the foretold death of which, again and still, definitely never stops recanting.
 This exhibition is part of « Nice 2017. École(S) de Nice ». Regrouping the MAMAC, Galerie des Ponchettes, Musée Masséna and 109, this cultural event retraces the local art history since the end of World War II until today, with a particular interest given to the « School of Nice » and Supports/Surfaces.