With the exhibition Une Autre Histoire, MLF | Marie-Laure Fleisch has the pleasure of presenting work by Céline Cuvelier, Clément Davout, and Julie Legrand. The three artists manipulate the landscape to varying degrees and use it to take a critical look at our world. For Céline Cuvelier, conjuring up paradisiacal panoramas is an indirect way of addressing contemporary problems that society often prefers to ignore. Clément Davout plays with the codes of painting: he does not paint the subject but its shadow, with the subtle gradations in his work often coming from algorithms. Finally, Julie Legrand continues her search for new hybridizations with the most insignificant objects, which she gives a noble character through an organic approach to glass. Each of these artists offers familiar contours and discreetly leads us to something that is not visible at first glance.
If anything, Céline Cuvelier’s practice is protean, as it encompasses painting, photography, installation, etc. The medium she uses serves above all to report on her research, which tends to reveal the hidden side of our times. Her creations often arise from stories and information she collects regarding major but rarely discussed issues, undoubtedly because they are synonymous with our contemporary dysfunctions. Behind her seductive landscapes, for example, lie graphics about the cost of the mental health problems in Europe or concerning its economic and migration crises. The words “Just like you,” affixed to a beach as if for an airline advertisement, are actually borrowed from an inmate in the Forest prison. Through detours and deviations, the artist arrives at a toned-down aesthetic that nonetheless springs from our generalized chaos and confronts us with a concrete social reality beyond appearances.
When viewing a painting by Clément Davout, what strikes one first is not the subject but rather the distance from that subject, which lends his works a transient character. But reality does lie at the heart of his decontextualized landscapes: Davout himself photographs plants, in front of which he places a translucent support and which he does not paint directly, only their projected shapes. This representation of the elusive is accompanied by color gradations obtained by posting images on Instagram; he can then freely draw inspiration from the color map he finds there. All of this is not just a reflection on painting in the digital age, as the juxtaposition of a familiar iconography and the programmed color gradations is an attempt to represent the volatility of what surrounds us. Against the current of our time, the artist uses the tools at his disposal to recreate the ephemeral poetry of each moment.
Julie Legrand’s creations instantly catch our eye, whether with an assemblage of antagonistic materials such as glass and coal or the merging of unexpected shapes and colors in her columns of recycled objects. The artist disrupts our frame of reference through a series of unsettling interventions with glass, which she blows with a blowpipe, fuses in a kiln, or manipulates with a blowtorch. With the self-taught artist’s imagination, she adapts to the medium she wishes to confront. The titles of her works reveal the intimate emotions the artist experiences in the studio. Behind this distortion of everyday objects lies a questioning of our constantly changing times. Via glass, Legrand succeeds in giving the marvelous a place again in everyday life. By upsetting gravity when she pulls glass strands in opposite directions, the artist expresses her desire to bring irreconcilable things into dialogue.
Within their respective practices, each artist displays a clear penchant for the representation of landscape. They skillfully use it to appropriate pre-existing notions or objects and give them a twist, thus evoking the idea of a different worldview. Playing on our banal but pleasant tendency to be suspicious of appearances–because it is flattering not to be fooled–they present a fragmented look behind the scenes, a mysterious and complex place harboring several realities. The other side of the scene is never just another scene. Illusions deserve to be taken seriously, because they allow for a deeper reading and tell a different story.