André Cadere

Galerie Des Beaux Arts

Born in Warsaw of Romanian parents, André Cadere produced a body of work based on the complementary concepts of presence and absence. Between 1970 and 1978 he orchestrated a series of events, or actions, designed to question the relationship between the art object and the space within which it is exhibited and evaluated. In fact, the term “exhibition” is too formal a word to apply to Cadere’s art, as his work attempts to reveal the arbitrary distinction between such sites as the gallery wall, the street corner, or the neighborhood bar. As Cadere often appeared in these sites holding the ever-present totemlike stick (the combination of the artist’s presence and the object itself constituted the total artwork), the presence of one situation would imply the possibility of another.

The objects that Cadere uses as a focal point for his concerns are wooden poles composed of variously colored rings: eight of these pieces constituted the exhibition. Ranging in length from a little over a foot to six feet, their function is twofold: as a symbol of the artist himself, and as the traditional object to be exhibited in a gallery or museum. Yet the accepted relationship between artist and object is constantly shifting, and outside any fixed context. Thus, for example, when Cadere is photographed with one of his sticks in front of Marcel Broodthaer’s mirrors at the Palais des Beaux Arts, this action invests the object with added significance. The constant duality of these two literal and figurative poles—weaving in and out of fixed contexts—accounts partly for the interest they generate. Seen today, propped against the gallery wall or affixed to it, they construct an absence through a presence, and vice versa. In a period in which the validity of original/appropriated images and objects is a point of departure for a great many artists, an exhibition of Cadere’s work seems particularly instructive.

Each piece is composed of a series of colors that appears to be mathematically determined. Yet into this “order” Cadere has purposefully inserted an “error,” a point that would, if perceived, throw the notion of a closed structure into disarray. Cadere referred to the level of “order and error” that existed in each of these works. Each reading of the work is simultaneously encouraged and denied. It is impossible to consider Cadere’s work without this inherent questioning of its own terms and criticism of the accepted definition of artistic practice.

In Cadere’s description of that practice, the term “work” (travail) is frequently employed; a catalogue published posthumously in 1982 is entitled Histoire d’un Travail. While this refers to the actual process of producing the piece and situating it in space, the term also places the activity outside of a strictly artistic setting, so that each piece, each activity, may be seen in context. An earlier pamphlet, which reprinted the text of one of his lectures, is called Présentation d’un Travail/Utilisation d’un Travail. Perhaps it is with these two terms—presentation and utilization—that Cadere’s work can be put into a clear focus: as a meticulous balancing of connotative and denotative elements that preserves the work’s constant state of development.

Michael Tarantino