Isa B, Vincent London at Galerie Dominique Bouffard

Exhibition: March 7 to April 4, 2015
Vernissage: Saturday March 7, 3 pm

Isa B  – Mines: From the Ground to the Depths

The considerable rise in world demand for mineral ores since the end of the XXth century has led to an intensification of mining exploitation and is at the source of a brutal transformation of landscapes. These actions aimed at underground resources are essentially tied to the ephemeral. Even the biggest mines can only be operated for twenty years or so and have all too often been abandoned in considerable disarray after having undergone only limited restoration, if any. Mining is one of the economic activities with the worst environmental impact, but it also leaves an industrial heritage that can be preserved and put to new uses.

Isa B’s new body of works invites us to investigate the aesthetic potential of abandoned mining landscapes. Part of our history, this heritage calls to mind both prosperity and devastation. Dealing with this contested and/or rehabilitated legacy, Isa B’s work emphasizes the contrast between the picturesqueness of depicted landscapes and the decay of architectures given over to the ravages of time.

The artist’s technical process involves the resurgence, resurrection, and rehabilitation of used, abandoned materials. The artist recycles them in order to then integrate them within a motley hodgepodge of colours and forms.

Mines: from the ground to the depths flows from the artist’s research on man and his paradoxical actions. Like photographer Edward Burtynsky, Isa B positions herself as an observer and highlights the beauty of mining landscapes resulting from the “dangerous coexistence of man and nature”.1

1 – Michel Hellman. “L’improbable beauté des paysages industriels”, Le Devoir, 5 novembre 2004

Vincent London – Caput Mortuum

Vincent London does not tell a story; rather, he transcribes through painting a vital, instinctive energy, a vibrant laying bare of his own psyche. What goes through our mind, and why? The relationship between mind and matter is the painter’s ultimate quest, as it were. This intuitive, expressive vision, born of bewildering spontaneity, carries us away to search for a new aesthetic reality. Chaos, fear, oppression, pleasure are but some of the themes explored by the artist, quite often with irresistibly dark humour.

London’s point of departure is the virgin landscape, the one that man has not yet soiled with his presence. When man appears in it, it is as a fierce predator, upsetting sentient beings and the fragile balance his cohabitation with them involves. The artist plays director, drawing from cinema and other sources of pre-existing images to fit them into his painting-world. Complex universes of meaning and painting then appear in a tangle of varied references, cleverly organized by the artist.

The term Caput mortuum —Latin for “Death’s head”— refers to the colour of dried blood, alternatively known as mummy brown. In alchemy, Caput mortuum was the useless remainder left by the decayed or earthy, featureless part of a body that had undergone distillation. Vincent London builds metaphorical bridges between this idea and the point of departure for his production: creating works from the paint remains left on his working palette.

(text: Galerie Dominique Bouffard)

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