DRA­WING WHILE MIN­DING THE GAP

Art Press - - SALON DU DESSIN -

“A dra­wing is the tra­jec­to­ry of ideas in tran­sit,” says Ber­nard Moninot about the con­cep­tual cha­rac­ter of the lines and strokes he sketches ei­ther free­hand or using pow­der or ny­lon th­read. Dra­wing, here, is a ques­tion of time, the time of re­flec­tion and the mo­ve­ments of thought.

One of Ber­nard Moninot’s first works was an en­semble of pain­tings—on struc­tures made of wood, Plexi­glas and so­me­times mir­rors— of store win­dows left emp­ty or with the dis­plays still un­der construction. Clear­ly the choice of this idea mar­ked this ar­tist’s af­fi­ni­ty with hy­per­rea­lism. But the spa­re­ness of the re­sult and the way he construc­ted it as an op­ti­cal ap­pa­ra­tus points the vie­wer to the act of seeing it­self, its self-evi­dence and li­mits. This is clear­ly the case with the al­most pal­pable but dis­creet blue stripe tra­ced with a ma­son’s plumb line on a back­ground wall in

Construction no. 5 (1974), just be­low the rea­dable (if slight­ly trun­ca­ted) ins­crip­tion “ice­berg.” If consi­de­red in light of the work that fol­lo­wed it, this line could be un­ders­tood as a de­cla­ra­tion of prin­ciple, a plea for ex­pan­ding the concept of dra­wing to in­clude all sorts of me­diums, sup­ports and ma­te­rials so as to keep ajar the ba­re­ly cra­cked door that in­tui­tion seems to open. What we have flee­tin­gly glimp­sed th­rough it is pre­ci­pi­ta­ted in­to a space and time of the ar­tist’s choo­sing, which ex­tend the vi­sible part. LINES AND TRAJECTORIES Ma­ny of the lines in Moninot’s dra­wings were not sket­ched by hand. In the case of the dra­wings he calls “dé­co­chés” (fi­red, li­ked an arrow), such as Ondes claires and Ri­co­chets (1989) and Ré­so­nances (1992), the lines were pro­du­ced by pow­der projected when a ham­mer hit pre­pa­red sheets of glass. In other cases they are ny­lon or sil­ver strings, or pia­no wire. Of­ten they are pro­du­ced wi­thin a struc­tu­ral space by the sha­dows and re­flec­tions of ob­jects made of ma­te­rials that are trans­pa­rent to va­rying de­grees (glass, Plexi­glas, mir­rors, sheets of fi­ber­glass, etc.), i.e., obs­tacles. Even when the ar­tist ge­ne­rates these lines him­self, they are still the re­sult of com­plex ope­ra­tions that in­volve trajectories, whe­ther of par­ticles or waves, dust or light pas­sing th­rough the air, rays of sun­light pas­sing th­rough glass, wind or sound pas­sing th­rough space or even clouds cros­sing the sky ( À la pour­suite des nuages [2013]). The en­semble Mé­moire du vent (1999-2012) was made by a glass needle at­ta­ched to the ends of va­rious plants, which en­gra­ved the mo­tions of the wind sha­king them on­to a thin layer of black smoke de­po­si­ted on the bot- tom of a Pe­tri dish. The shapes that make up

Silent Lis­ten (2010) cor­res­pond to the curves of a so­no­gram of the word “si­lence,” which they make re­so­nate in the sur­roun­ding space. These lines are not made by the mo­ve­ments of a hand but by other mo­ve­ments that are far less per­cep­tible and yet ve­ry pro­found. For these “ideas in the air,” each dra­wing is a trap as well as an echo cham­ber. “A dra­wing is the tra­jec­to­ry of ideas in tran­sit,” he argues, “trans­cri­bing the cri­ti­cal states of thought.”(1) BRIN­GING CLO­SER, DELAYING In his dra­wing prac­tice Moninot pri­vi­leges what he conceives as “sites with the smal­lest gap, in space and time, bet­ween thought and its re­col­lec­tion.”(2) He uses small de­vices to find a form of im­me­dia­cy and coincidence, im­prin­ting the traces of di­verse pro­ce­dures. The sim­plest of these, the sha­dow of an ob­jet im­prin­ted on a plane ( Stu­dio­lo, 199198), can ge­ne­rate more com­plex ma­chi­na­tions. For example, the th­ree-di­men­sio­nal shapes in Table et Ins­tru­ments (1991-2002) are the re­sult of suc­ces­sive pro­jec­tions th­rough which the ori­gi­nal ob­jects were elon­ga­ted by in­te­gra­ting the sha­dow they cast. In this way they ins­cribe them­selves with light and es­ta­blish a “proxi­mi­ty of things,”(3) com­pa­rable to gi­ving form to thought. One can­not fail to note the pa­ral­lel with mo­dern de­ve­lop­ments in phy­sics, from “thought ex­pe­ri­ments” to the ef­fects of mea­su­ring ap­pa­ra­tus on the ob­ser­ved phe­no­me­non. The time it takes the sun’s light to reach us, that in­fi­ni­te­si­mal de­lay on which all per­cep­tion is foun­ded, may be pre­ci­se­ly the spa­tio-tem­po­ral fra­me­work for all the ex­pe­ri­ments Moninot has car­ried out over the last few de­cades. That would ex­plain his work in­vol­ving two su­per­im­po­sed planes, at least one of them made of silk. Bet­ween them there exists “an air gap”(4) mi­ni­mi­zed by the trans­pa­ren­cy that makes the two planes melt in­to one ano­ther and even the wall be­hind them, ex­ten­ded by the use of perspective and sus­pen­ded by the fact that sha­dows are ac­tual­ly drawn on them. In the inch-plus depth of Des

Coupe-vent (2006), trans­pa­rent shel­ters file by end­less­ly and slide to­ge­ther, while in the

Ter­mi­nal series (2013-) views of run­ways and re­flec­tions of de­par­ture lounges are con­den­sed on the bay win­dows that se­pa­rate them from the out­side. The on­ly thing ab­sent from these spaces is what the ar­tist, fol­lo­wing El Lis­sitz­ky’s Prouns, calls in­ter­me­dia­ries: the per­son who saw them. Such rea­lism is not the point here. The ob­ser­ver is much more like a door-clo­ser, the me­cha­ni­cal arm that pushes doors as they are ope­ned and clo­sed, while delaying that clo­sing for a few ins­tants, just long enough time to push ob­ser­va­tion and thought a lit­tle fur­ther.

Trans­la­tion, L-S Tor­goff (1) Ber­nard Moninot, “Le jour par­fois… ,” Des­sin(s), Beaux-Arts de Pa­ris Édi­tions, 2014, p. 22. (2) and (4) In­ter­view, Bien­nale du des­sin, Beaux-Arts de Pa­ris édi­tions, 2014, p. 11. (3) In­ter­view with Oli­vier Kaep­pe­lin, Ber­nard Moninot, Royan, Centre d’Arts Plas­tiques, 1996, p. 27. Art cri­tic and art his­to­rian Gui­te­mie Maldonado teaches at the École Nationale Su­pé­rieure des Beauxarts in Pa­ris and the École du Louvre. « Silent-lis­ten ». 2010. 300 x 500 x 400 cm. Des­sin dans l’es­pace. Acier, corde à pia­no, drisse, câble, verre, plexi­glas, bande ma­gné­tique, cym­bale, dia­pa­son

Dra­wing in space. Steel, pia­no wire, cable, glass, tape...

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