Does the India Art Fair 2023 mark a cultural rebirth for the Indian art scene?
by Vatsala SethiJan 23, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Dilpreet BhullarPublished on : Jan 10, 2022
The exponential rise in the time spent on ‘screens’, a corollary of pervasive digital technology, has inadvertently coaxed the traditional art practitioners to play with the material and language to sustain the attention of the audience. The French artist, Daniel Dezeuze, with his exhibition Écrans/Tableaux: Variations at Galerie Templon, Paris, raised the pressing questions: “Will the painting survive the extraordinary multiplication of screens? How can it resist the dispersed practices of contemporary art?” With a series of hybrid works lying at the intersection of painting and sculpture, Dezeuze remains persistent to enquire about the role of the painting in the face of the proliferation of screens.
The rich oeuvre of the artist has consistently explored the concepts that run the relationship between painting, galleries and space. Dezeuze gained interest in paintings and screens in the 1960s during his tenure as a teacher at the University of Toronto, where he had a brush with the research on omnipresent screens and the growing spread of mass media propounded by the theorist Marshall McLuhan. Dezeuze rightly anticipated the manner in which technology would revolutionise the art of painting. As a founding member of the Supports/Surfaces avant-garde group, he worked towards the deconstruction of regular principles of making a painting. Dezeuze has experimented with the techniques and material to offer an alternative to American art. The artist sees a sense of dichotomy between the screens and paintings only to experiment with the traditional painting codes. He has removed the stretcher from the canvas and turned it against the wall to bring forth the idea of ‘full and empty’.
In an interview with STIR, Dezueze talks about the parallel between the paintings and sculpture which gives way to dynamics of minimalism and abstraction within the exhibition, “The presence of the third dimension is evident in my works in this exhibition, discreetly so in my paintings, more pronounced in my other works. When the third dimension has primacy then you are in the domain of sculpture and volume. For my Dancing Calligraphies (assemblages made from reshaped skis), what is dominant is drawing; calligraphy and drawing are non-dissociable.”
Dezeuze repurposes the conventional assemblage of painting in an effort to create a third dimension. What we see is an arrival of the enigmatic calligraphies and paintings without canvas. Moreover, the monochromatic colours play to initiate the conceptual making of the artwork. But Dezeuze is quick to illustrate, “Proposing calligraphy, drawing and colour is a gamble which takes me close to geometric abstraction. Without wanting to create a type of synthesis evoking the metaphysics of a Total Art, I hope that viewers will be sensitive to the entanglement of these three notions, calligraphy, drawing and colour.” The screens in the hands of the artists are not just palpable symptomatic of a society subjected to the overflow of moving images, algorithms, artificial light and colour. To add, it illustrates the dexterity with which Dezueze has reinvented the codes of the painting.
As one looks at the painting-sculptures, a seamless presence of the void is demonstrable. If not immediately, then gradually the representational forms of void evoke a dialogue with the built environment of the gallery space. Dezeuze dwells deeper into this observation to say, “I am presenting my works in a space that corresponds with the ‘white cube’ and I have to deal with this type of space. On the contrary, the intervals between the artworks create ‘voids’ and let me have a possibility of personal intervention. The void is not completely empty: it is where time and space begin. The works I am showing are rather far from the monochrome which is an absolute. I distrust absolutes. The Dancing Calligraphies are often very colourful but the paintings flirt with what you rightly call monochromatic colours.”
If Daniel Dezeuze was the first member of the Supports/Surfaces group to come across American art, now his oeuvre is influencing an entirely new generation of American painters and receiving renewed critical attention from across the Atlantic. As he states, “My journey lies within the historical space of the painting, which is both a real object and an object of knowledge. For me, the love of painting involves a restrained sensuality, revitalised formalism and an artistic attempt that is open in its variations," the viewers could experience a certain joy before the profusion of colourful paintings.
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