Isn’t it good to be lost in the wood is the result of a dialogue where the artists allow their works to do the talking: Pierre Ardouvin and Przemek Matecki take up the challenge of a conversation in absentia, which tasks their images with meeting each other in a preparatory space punctuated by a series of fake columns introduced on the initiative of curator Estera Tajber. The white columns in the gallery space are like trees with magical fruits – the works of two artists Przemek Matecki and Pierre Ardouvin. The white cube of the gallery is transformed into a Baudelairian forest of symbols where the artworks reveal themselves as we walk round, sometimes facing each other, sometimes turning their backs on one another.
Pierre Ardouvin is a French artist. The works he is presenting at the gallery are hackneyed images of idyllic places which, via a retouching process that reveals more than it conceals, turn into a backdrop for a series of catastrophes that are both hallucinatory and ridiculously improbable.
Polish artist Przemek Matecki is interested in the imaginary world depicted in glossy magazines: he uses pages he has collected throughout his life as a medium for an atlas of hybrid figures arising from an act of appropriation and painterly anamorphosis that is both playful and brutal. From the cuttings and rubbish – from the waste of mass culture governed largely by the media, he builds his vision of reality. Sometimes vulgar, sometimes kitsch, his works do not hesitate to exaggerate the codes of contemporary beauty, whose grotesque reverse side and whose productive metamorphosis they represent. These wastes, discards which were not included into the canon or the official “circulation” are a reflection of that what surrounds us. But also they partly change our basic vision of reality. It doesn’t become better or worse, but it is different. Sometimes it is complementary and sometimes it deconstructs the prototype. This isn’t a way to criticize or evaluate the world. Matecki’s paintings show the world how it is and how we perceive it without unnecessary moralizing. The newspaper clippings, the scraps of images, the prints are partly painted over, or are covered with a layer of paint. The image becomes virtually unreadable. But this is how we mostly perceive the images and messages that come to us from the omnipresent and all-powerful media. In the jungle of information flooding us daily, thousands of images and periodicals that appear one after another we can easily lose the track and get lost. The images are important and recognizable only for a moment, sometimes few days and then become deformed, black out. Some details, that initially are irrelevant to the overall, general meaning, with the passing of time come to the fore and create a new story, a new reception. The memories distorted by fallible memory, this unreal and imaginary world become the real one – and ironically! – really affecting our reality.
In the urban forest conjured up by a scenography akin to an installation, the works of these two artists from different creative and geographical horizons create a dialogue of analogies and discrepancies, of assonance and broken rhythm: both involve dual images, mirages of a society, monsters that lurk in our visual subconscious; they involve appropriating the “remains” of reality and sabotaging our knee-jerk interpretations of the world. But they also short-circuit points of view in a way that readily does without words: as Syd Barrett sang in the song that gives the show its name, “Isn’t it good to be lost in the wood? Isn’t it bad so quiet there in the wood?”
Words: Viviana Birolli & Dobromila Blaszczyk
Isn’t it good to be lost in the wood
24 May – 19 July 2014
4 bis, passage de la Fonderie, Paris 11°