Michel Verjux

Primo Piano

Simplicity and sobriety characterize Michel Verjux’s works, and it is precisely these values that give his installations their force and complexity. The source of light (projectors with halogen lamps), the light projections on the wall, and the architectural space are the elements that comprise Verjux’s vocabulary. From 1983 until 1986, the artist placed various constructions—usually wood boxes—between the light source and the wall, creating geometric plays of shadow. Later he eliminated the objects, and projected unobstructed beams of light directly onto the wall. Though precedents for Verjux’s reduction of means are numerous—Dan Flavin’s neon works, ’60s experiments in which the gallery space itself was exhibited, and even the environmental experiments of Daniel Buren and Niele Toroni—he pursues his practice with freedom and inventive force.

This installation consisted of two luminous projections. In one, the beam of light struck a corner of the wall, and, as a result, the luminous circle became an elliptical deformation. In the second projection, the beam of light was directed toward a recessed section of the wall that was marked by a forward and backward play of planes; as a result, the illuminated disk took on a more complex, fractured form. The figure of the circle became more virtual than real, as if it were an absolute toward which the broken lines of the projection strove in vain. And so Verjux invites us to see light as an a priori condition of vision in an optical/perceptual sense; the projections, in fact, radically transform the space not only physically and environmentally, but also in terms of the strictly conventional sense of the space delegated to art. Indeed, these light events foreground the exhibition space itself.

Verjux deliberately accepts or investigates various sensuous or esthetically beautiful effects that result from his projections: the halos of complementary colors (yellow-orange-green-blue) that are formed along the edges of the circle due to the effect of the light’s refraction; or—as in this show—the intrinsic dynamism that characterizes certain projections. He distances himself from Conceptualism in that his project does not depend on a theoretical guarantee. In contrast, his works are always site-specific; they change as the geometric dimensions and the luminous quality of his “éclairages” vary.

Massimo Carboni

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.

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