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Landscape Painting and Beyond N°10

Landscape Painting and Beyond N°10, 1986

Bertrand Lavier
  • Artist (1949)

The work of the French artist Bertrand Lavier, who was born in 1949 in Châtillon-sur-Seine, and is a landscape artist by training, deals with the processes of representation and questions the definition of reality.  He is known above all for his “repainted” objects and objects “on stands”, but he is nevertheless involved in every field of contemporary art:  installation, sound, film, etc.  By taking naturalist painting literally (painting an object), he goes beyond the appearance of things by covering them with a coat of paint reproducing their original colour in a mimetic way.  So he is not interested in the metamorphosis of the object, but rather aims at its immutable form, of which it is the manifestation (Gabriel Gaveau, 1981; Westinghouse, 1981; Star VP, 1982; Vitrines, 2000).  Lavier calls himself a painter.  He does not claim to be a follower of Duchamp but borrows, for his own purposes, the principle of de-contextualizing the object by putting it in the museum setting.  “Ever since Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter, we know that the best way to disguise something is to show it”, says the artist.  The use of a dense, thick touch which the artist describes as the “Van Gogh touch”, transforms these three-dimensional objects into mixtures of painting and sculpture.  Later on, in 1985, he developed a series in which he superposed two objects, thus playing on the dialectic of stand and statue (Young Chang/Zanussi, 1990).  In Landscape Painting and Beyond , a commission from the FRAC Centre, Lavier uses a photograph of the banks of the Loire.  Beside it, the same photograph is covered with a new depiction of the landscape, this time painted with a regular and emphatic stroke.  A third part shows us an extension of this image made by an amateur painter and meant to be continued on the wall of the exhibition venue by anybody wanting to paint.  Lavier here signifies that any image of reality results from a previous model and calls into question our certainties about the identity of painting and photography.  Since Bertrand Lavier’s first show with Lara Vincy in Paris in 1973, his work has been shown in many exhibitions throughout the world, and in retrospectives, including those at the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art in 1985, the National Museum of Modern Art in 1991, the Mamco in 2001, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in 2012-2013.

Nadine Labedade