New York

Gregoire Ferland

14 Sculptors Gallery

Essentially disquieting and strangely foreign, Gregoire Ferland’s welded assemblage pieces explore the core of our being, our biological essence, through animating form. These are obtuse creatures, whose primordial gestures mimic the incantations of our daily routines; they move hesitantly, with an implied anxiety that mirrors the anxiety of our progress in a post-industrial world. They seem like distant cousins who have adapted to another specific environment. Mouvement Primitif (Primitive movement, 1988) consists of an elongated metal screen supported by a sequence of rods; some of these rods form legs, others project through the grid corpus like wavering antennae. The piece resembles a large insect transfixed in a state of hypnotic motion. Its corroded exterior and open imperfection seem to be the result of exposure to the elements. The jagged yet graceful angularity of the piece, the interplay between composed elements and surrounding space, positive and negative values, recalls the musical compositions of John Cage.

L’Abri (The shelter, 1988) has a surprising leaflike shape that hangs suspended, as if by accident, atop two crossed tensile rods. Eloquent and lyrical, it suggests a dialogue on male-female relations. The leaf shape is compositionally juxtaposed with the arabesque lines of the support rods in a kind of archetypal balance, a manifestation of Jung’s animus-anima principle. The male and female elements are unconsciously present in their counterparts, and act as a bridge leading to reflection.

Turning Around, 1989, has a fixed central post rising perpendicularly from the gallery floor, and carries a series of horizontal rods along with a small screen. The exterior surface is painted over with a dark, fiberglass patina. The implied circle it draws through the surrounding space continues Ferland’s Neoplatonic discourse. By working with sculptural assemblage via an automatist method, Ferland’s gestural works become a kind of allegorical fantasy. While formalist in their truth to materials, these pieces also possess a degree of narrative expressiveness. Chips, 1989, is a simpler composition with a grid structure supported by four legs whose forward motion is stopped in time. The sense of suspended animation calls to mind the instinctive, reactive nature of animals for whom time is experienced, rather than reflected upon.

The idiographic integrity of these works, their camouflaged character, is open and unassuming, devoid of ideological baggage. It suggests a deeper meaning than mere visual alliteration. These unconscious metaphors appear to be the expression of a certain malaise, which seems to be more a result of humanity’s alienation from itself than from nature. Ferland’s art has not severed its connections with our distant, integral self. It implies that, by nature, our movements are as predictable as those of any other species; by reason, our daily activities and gestures will continue to seem haphazard.

John K. Grande