Critics’ Picks

Jean-Marie Appriou, The cave of time (mystique), 2018, cast aluminum, 43 x 57.5 x 22.5".

Jean-Marie Appriou, The cave of time (mystique), 2018, cast aluminum, 43 x 57.5 x 22.5".


Jean-Marie Appriou

Galerie Eva Presenhuber | Maag Areal
Zahnradstrasse 21
November 10–December 22, 2018

Jean-Marie Appriou was born in the far northwest of France in 1986, far removed from Paris, where he lives and works today. But he still seems deeply rooted in his native Brittany, where he manufactured his first cast-aluminum sculptures in his father’s garden. First discovered in the nineteenth century, this base metal is mostly used today in industrial mass production, but here, the artist sounds out the possibilities for cast aluminum in figurative art. In what evokes a prop-storage room for a fairy-tale play or a metal workshop, a shiny, metallic bundle of life-size cornstalks greets the visitor in the quadrangle of the first white cube. Bulging eyes and pursed mouths peer eerily out of veristic faces lodged in this excess of rigidly upright, phallic corncobs (Crossing the parallel worlds, all works 2018).

If the visitor sees rural motifs in the first gallery space, morbid miniature landscapes follow in the second gallery, with grasshoppers (Invasion) and oversize bats (Chiroptera) swarming around bizarre cave hemispheres (The cave of time [mystique]). The upright ferns of Cypress (Blade) recall Arnold Böcklin’s famous Toteninsel (Isle of the Dead), 1880, and, in the case of the caves, imprints of the artist’s were left in the clay and cast in aluminum. The configuration of his bizarre form-worlds aside, for the artist it is above all a question of the range of structures and surfaces possible from a highly idiosyncratic and artistically promising material. The viewer follows him through this formally and materially engaging experiment, which seems suggest that this easy-to-work material with a melting point half as high as that of iron might not have come too late for the fine arts.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.