Paris

Michel Verjux

Galerie Durand-Dessert

What interests Michel Verjux about electricity are the properties it shares with light. In an installation in 1986, a luminous beam was projected to illuminate architectural details in a space where the light emanated from cases and was diffused throughout the room. In contrast to, say, Dan Flavin, whose arrangement of fluorescent tubes in some way constitutes a sculpture, for Verjux the work is the light itself. Most often he uses very powerful spotlights to create pure geometric shapes—often perfect circles—on the floor where the light is projected, and where the contrast between light and shadow have disappeared. He utilizes light like a paintbrush, placing himself in the Constructivist tradition. Certain pieces are direct homages to Kasimir Malevich (Hommage au projecteur à découpe [Homage to the spotlight, 1986], a square “painting” of three different intensities) and to El Lissitsky (Poursuite environnante, dite poursuite proun [Surrounding pursuit, known as proun pursuit, 1988]). Verjux’s project took on massive proportions in the halls of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1992, most notably in a series of large, overlapping circles that illuminated a long, bright pathway.

Each of Verjux’s projects is conceived for a particular exhibition space, museum, gallery, private house, or outdoor site (which he refers to as “ecological niches” in his numerous theoretical writings), and can be installed in different places, though this obviously changes the work. For this exhibition, he created two works that make no reference to the architectural characteristics of the building, accentuating the pictorial instead, which nonetheless illuminates the space of the gallery in all its detail. Under the large window, the Double suite ascendante en V (Double suite ascending in a V, 1994), projects three luminous shapes that reach to the top of the window at the right and the left of the entryway: a half circle at floor level, a half circle upside down, located at window level, and a full circle at the top of the room. The more minimal work on the first floor, Découpe rasante et frontale (du sol au mur) (Low frontal spot [from floor to wall], 1994) takes over less of the space since it consists of a thin vertical line of light on the wall, like a crack.

In fact, even as they propose a geometrical construction that transforms the site architecturally, Verjux’s works create a sensory experience that evolves according to one’s mood or according to the time of day; the intensity of the electric light is softer in the natural light of day, and denser, more brilliant at night. Light remains irreducibly immaterial and possesses a fragility that provokes a troubling “existential feeling,” an immediate contact with the Other, consciously sought by the artist just as if he were after a rigorous structural conception.

Anne Dagbert