21 February – 4 April 2009
Praz-Delavallade is pleased to announce its first solo show in Berlin devoted to the French artist Thomas Fougeirol, who lives and works both in New York and Paris.
Thomas Fougeirol's practice is characterized by an exploration of notions of absence and disappearance through the mediums of painting, drawing and photography. In his previous works, Fougeirol often replaced the human body with objects and detritus signifying a human presence, relying on the subtle implication of the body rather than its physical reality. These traces and imprints of human existence float in emptiness and border on abstraction.
Through this quest to capture and represent disappearance and effacement the artist is in fact questioning the act of painting. In his last series, Fougeirol introduces the pictorial technique of imprinting materials onto the surface of the canvas, marks a shift in his practice. Using curtains and sheets bought in Emmaus (a thrift store reselling donated goods for charity purposes) to create an impression on the canvas, he creates mysterious images reminiscent of early nineteenth-century photograms. The tactical composition of negative and positive space is central to his method of constructing images. Between apparition and dissolution, the painting is waiting to be revealed.
The use of the imprint is linked to primitive painterly techniques of emphasizing the materiality of the paint and the physical engagement of the painter. But here, Fougeirol is distancing himself from his work by pressing the fabric between himself and the canvas. However, the second-hand sheet loaded with its own history, acting as a reliquary of memories of bygone people and places, and it's this emotional content which contributes to the elaboration of the work. In addition to the technique of imprinting, Fougeirol investigates painterly conventions through a variety of strategies of appropriation, including the use of all-over pattern and the process of layering and covering.
In this series, he begins to consider the various possibilities of utilizing all-over pattern repetition to construct a painting. Banal or kitschy textile designs take the place of the traditional subject in the center of the canvas. He also introduces arbitrariness to the construction of the work by using the imprinting technique, which is in itself a highly random and unpredictable process. Fougeirol's method of covering is twofold: it is evident both in the overprinting and layering of dense patterns, but also in his allusion to obscuring or curtaining the convention of the painting as a "window".
His use of silver paint creates a mirror effect that plays with light and the movement of the viewer, emphasizing the work's active physical engagement with the spectator. In this series of "Curtain Crash" paintings, Fougeirol allows foreign elements to contaminate his paintings. He enlarges the relationship between the painter and his painting, between the artist and his subject. For Fougeirol, the fundamental question is no longer what to paint, but how to paint. The process of painting and the physical properties of the paint become most important, while traditional elements of color, subject, composition and brushstroke are put aside. Fougeirol focuses his work on the act of painting, more than on the images he produces.