Michel Goulet

Galerie Christiane Chassay

Michel Goulet’s random assemblages strip the readymade bare, relieving the tradition of the found object of a century’s worth of theoretical baggage and reinvesting it with a folkloric, populist dimension. As with all his recent works, “Leçons d’époque” (Lessons of the epoch, 1990) groups several assemblages together under a single theme. A variety of materials arranged on metal shelves in neat vertical tiers include nails, a length of chain, a roll of wire, and kitchen utensils. In another piece a pile of dollar bills becomes a physical tool supporting a right angle, which in turn is supported by a crowbar. These objects maintain a precarious balance that relieves them of any possible utility. By expanding surrealism’s definitions beyond the object-product, Goulet’s poetic enlarges the definition of the surreal, bringing this brand of art closer to nature. Standing beside a gallery wall, a massive slab of an old elm tree on a narrow trolley reads simultaneously as a picturesque object and as a potential product, lumber.

Goulet’s latest works seem cleaner and more self-conscious than earlier pieces that used antique objects freighted with nostalgic associations. He now employs new workshop tools—products that make products—in order to rid his assemblages of some of these historical associations. Vestiges of his earlier work do remain in Point de vue éloquent (Eloquent point of view, 1989). Here, metal chairs are dissembled, rearranged, and anamorphically distorted. One has its feet welded to other unstable, tentatively poised forms which serve no function at all. Sections of an old whipsaw have been placed on this seat next to a collection of black boots with their interiors filled in. Another chair has objects attached to its framework like limpets, their contours almost completely obscured by wrappings of copper sheathing. A vanity mirror, and two world globes, one white plaster and the other painted in colors sit atop this chair.

By transforming the familiar everyday object with a wild, eclectic abandon, Goulet’s art pokes fun at our disdain for that which cannot be theorized or explained. Goulet has a delightful sense of the absurd; for him that which is impossible is.

John K. Grande