Critics’ Picks

Philippe Decrauzat, Take/No Take, 2014, 16-mm black-and-white film, 6 minutes 25 seconds.

Philippe Decrauzat, Take/No Take, 2014, 16-mm black-and-white film, 6 minutes 25 seconds.


Philippe Decrauzat

MAGASIN - Centre National d'Art Contemporain
8 esplanade Andry Farcy Site Bouchayer-Viallet
February 8–May 4, 2014

Like its trisyllabic title, “Notes, Tones, Stone,” this exhibition coalesces three distinct programs. The first is architectonic, following the grid of interlocking concrete slabs that form the floor of the extensive main room that Philippe Decrauzat’s work occupies. Using the slabs’ dimensions, the artist produced ten white plinths and vertical walls—“volumes,” as he calls them—and positioned them throughout the space.

The second underlying program utilizes the work of scientist and cinematographer Étienne-Jules Marey, whose biological research is represented by undulating stripes in shades of gray, black, and white across a series of seven paintings hung on the surrounding walls. These works, which Decrauzat refers to as “frames,” are named using anagrams of the words in the exhibition title, and are based on the curves originally drawn by Marey to map human respiration: The resulting pieces meld formal abstraction with organic phenomena. Contours also appear in the form of a curved wall that leads viewers to a zig-zag-striped painting (Tenso, 2014), thus pairing a curvature that is seen with one that is experienced with the whole body.

The third program converges with Marey’s experimental cinematic legacy: Three black-and-white 16-mm films by Decrauzat projected either onto the walls of the space alongside the paintings or directly onto the vertical wall-volumes, and attest to Decrauzat’s long-standing affinity to abstract filmmaking. Two of these films continue an ongoing series that renders, from two separate angles, the rotation of one of the artist’s past sculptures: a small-scale interpretation of a circular, metallic scientific device that examines hydropower and resembles the early cinematic zoetrope. The third film—Take on / No take, 2014— is a close-up shot of an eyelid opening and closing over a pupil. The projectors showing these films are currently placed atop three of Decrauzat’s volumes; the artist will move the projectors to other plinths over the course of the exhibition—in accordance with seasonal changes to the angles of light entering the building from its exterior through the glass ceiling—shifting the duotone landscape of paintings, plinths, and films that extends across the building’s interior.