David de Tscharner Les Ambassadeurs October 8 – November 5, 2016
For his first solo exhibition at Escougnou-Cetraro Gallery, David de Tscharner unveils new works. In continuation of his previous series using objects and materials he found in his wanderings (such as Fantasmagorie, presented at FRAC Pays de la Loire in 2014, and in the gallery’s project room in spring 2016), Les Ambassaseurs (The Ambassadors) harnesses the formal and poetic potential of images collected on Instagram.
Here and there, a face or a mask, a cap, a fish’s fin, a close-up of a palm tree trunk… As many details the artist selected in the randomness of his connections, saved, printed, enlarged, photocopied and silhouetted before inserting them in resin and Plexiglas. Haphazard unidentifiable shapes are attached to them, hollowed and cut in the same materials and enhanced with paint. Sometimes organic, sometimes anthropomorphic, they recall the ones the artist dispersed in Maison Grégoire in Brussels for the exhibition La Nature des Choses at the beginning of the year. Photography, collage, painting and sculpture come together as one.
Transposed in volume in the form of mobiles, the selected images find a second life, withdrawn from the continuous feed flooding the web, freed from their author as well as comments and other hashtags. Their enlargement and the cuts the artist operates make them hard to identify; visitors can therefore give free rein to their interpretation.
The way the sculptures occupy space, floating in the air, involves a privileged bond with their environment. Suspended from the ceiling, displayed in the entire height of the gallery space like reversed totems, they disrupt the visitor’s usual circulation and effortless gaze, free space around them defining perspective angles in constant movement. Like the painting by Hans Holbein the Young giving this exhibition its title, those works induce the spectator’s movement so as to be grasped. Double full-length portrait of diplomats, Les Ambassadeurs indeed shows in the lower section of the painting a stretched and distorted human skull, an anamorphosis one can only perceive when looking at the painting with a sideways glance.
As well as the attributes of the two men represented on the painting can seem obscure today five centuries apart from us, the images found on Instagram, anchored in our present time, will quite possibly be hard to understand for the generations to come. David de Tscharner thus combines past, present and future as much in the references he uses (from On the Nature of Things by Lucrèce to the encyclopedic illustrations by Ernst Haeckel, to mention but a few) as in the forms that most of his works take: the artist breathes life back – just like Dr. Frankenstein – into the images, materials or abandoned objects that he gleans, manipulates, and then challenges by exhibiting them to the public.