22 INTRODUCING about to be born, camouflaged in the midst of almost tropical plants. They are lost, numerous, in the maelstrom of accumulations, as if contorted around baroque cupolas, wounded by the angles that are like so many fragments of broken mirrors. It will be said that the are largely mineral, while the explode like shards of glass. Thoughts Subjects It would, however, be a mistake to see in the Thoughts only abstractions, and in the Subjects their more or less figurative version. But it is true that Pensées will “speak” rather to lovers of abstract art – their almost impressionist style evokes a painter who is very important to Chavaren, Claude Monet – while those who need recognizable images will be more attached to Subjects, seduced by the nude women and the energetic, almost expressionist gesture, where the transparency of the figures sometimes borders on stained glass (on this point, Marcel Duchamp’s also often comes to mind). Last autumn (1) Chavaren’s first Parisian exhibition was held, at the Perpitch & Bringand gallery. In the intimacy of this old chapel in the rue du Bac district in Paris, he exhibited and jointly. This summer, for an exhibition initially scheduled for May, Chavaren is exhibiting at the Boa Lab gallery in Lisbon, in partnership with his Parisian gallery, and following a residency in the Portuguese capital. Here again he displays Thoughts and Subjects. And there is also a simple stool, considered as a sculpture, a sort of readymade that meets the conditions for a good view of the works. Constraining the one who sits upon it, deprived of a backrest, to an uncomfortable position, it keeps them in an active waking state and leads them to focus their attention on what is facing them: a bit like during a studio visit. Here we find this human dimension of Chavaren’s art. He has never made any secret of what an intrinsic part of his work night life in the Basque Country is, as he is undeniably a prominent figure of it, with the collective Radio Standart, through which he has organized for some years the most popular evenings in the South-West, the Bar du Classique, keystone of Biarritz, of which he was one of the managers and founders – all part of his work and his painting. The stool allows us to sit and devote a few minutes of our busy time to art, to his art.This seat that has a long pedigree in the history of art, from Vincent van Gogh to the conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth. A social sculpture in the sense that Beuys understood it. “I think today we’ll contemplate more, look at what’s going on around us. We’re going to sit down more,” says the artist. Translation: Chloé Baker Grand Verre Thoughts Subjects « Sujets (prémices) ». 2018. Huile sur toile. 184 x 206 cm. Oil on canvas cerity, let’s call it “kindness” or “friendship”, and coming across this quality in such a refined form is rare enough to be highlighted. Then I returned often to the Basque Country and, over the months and years, we got to know each other better. Mathieu started showing me his paintings: first in an apartment above the Comptoir du Foie Gras, where he had a job while at school, then in his studio near the airport, which he occupied until recently. First there were the [ large canvases animated with touches of black that vibrate and enliven the surface, for a while referred to by the artist as his “writings”, and which recall to some extent the works of Henri Michaux. Often black almost completely covers the canvas. Sometimes the artist spares large areas of white around his “black islands”, and the Pensées appear like a field of stones, evoking the surface of marble slabs. Chavaren subsequently has developed, mainly in recent years, the series of [ that is, more “figurative” canvases depicting accumulations of bodies and other things, treated rather in silhouette, always using the contrast of black and white. He voluntarily limits his palette to black and white: “I leave the colour to nature, it has enough that we’ve forgotten to notice,” says the artist. In the appear in particular female bodies, languid odalisques or Venus He is exhibiting at the Boa Lab gallery (Lisbon) from July 9. ——— I met Mathieu Chavaren in Biarritz in the early 2010s. He was studying at the École des Beaux-Arts des Rocailles, founded by Pascal Convert, which has since become the École Supérieure d’Art du Pays Basque. At that time part of his work as a young artist consisted in asking people to give him an object that they really valued and to explain this attachment. Without being haughty, I am not haughty, but I have a reputation for not opening up easily; and above all, I am not naive regarding what is called relational aesthetics. But I spontaneously gave Mathieu a 50 Polynesian franc coin, which never left my pocket. It had become a sort of lucky charm that protected me, although I am not particularly superstitious, and thanks to which I had to quit smoking. Sometimes we do ridiculous things, and obviously, by separating myself from the coin, I blithely betrayed my wishful thinking. The fact remains that I gave it without batting an eyelid to the artist because there emanated from his request a great sin- Pensées Thoughts], Sujets Subjects], Subjects (1) From September 12 to November 15, 2019.
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