Art Press : 2020-04-20

DOSSIER : 53 : 53


53 dossier « Dice Man + The Game of Life ». 2011. Encre sur papier et posca® sur papier. 21 x 30 cm. (Ph. Jean-Christophe Lett) Gilles Barbier was born and raised in Vanuatu, a Pacific island in the southern hemisphere, not far from New Zealand. He came to art through graphic novels and sciencefic­tion literature. In this respect, we should point out how important it was for him to read Luke Rhinehart’s novel, A 2011 drawing bears witness to this passion, which led to the creation in 2017 of a giant die and its exhibition in Jardin des Tuileries during Fiac. In the series titled the artist imagined old still lifes (mainly Dutch) colonized by immaculate architectu­res. It perfectly exemplifie­s the collision of two cultures: Barbier the wild, whose island, subjected to telluric hazards and invasive vegetation, meets the geometry and rationalis­m of European civilizati­on. Moving to our hemisphere was a tremendous culture shock for him. The Hawaiian Ghosts are not covered with a white sheet but with wax fabric, which has “typical” Polynesian patterns but is made in the Netherland­s. Once again, we helplessly watch as two tectonic plates collide: that of old Europe and that of the Pacific. We are aware of the importance of ghosts in Polynesian culture (see Gauguin’s paintings). In this case, they are not very frightenin­g, and most of all, not very discreet, which makes them slightly ridiculous. Harmless. The Dice Man. ——— Habiter Does Gilles Barbier still need to be introduced? The artist is known for his hyperreali­stic resin sculptures, but he also excels at drawing, often in large formats, and sometimes presented in the form of carrousels (see the second at Grand Palais in 2009). At Drawing Now, Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois gallery presents a group of drawings from various series and times that form a kind of miniature retrospect­ive of drawn works. Barbier practices drawing as a prospectiv­e relaxation of sorts. It is the one part of his oeuvre that he works on almost single-handedly. For example, twenty-eight years ago, he started transcribi­ng, in drawing, all the pages (texts and images included) of the Petit Larousse Illustré dictionary. In a book that was published last year, he also recreated the interviews he gave, using cursive writing for the text and drawing the portraits of each interviewe­r as well as anyone mentioned. la Peinture, Force de l’Art Translatio­n: Jessica Shapiro

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