Pascal Convert

Site Odéonº 5

THE EXHIBITION BEGAN OUTSIDE, on the street: Drawings were painted on the gallery windows—long, multicolor, swirling, interlaced strokes. They were on the walls, too, one saw, once past the door. These traces belong to the series “Native Drawings,” which Pascal Convert began in 1997, based on his children's drawings (in the case of the works here, his daughter's). Sequenced and digitized, the scrawlings are projected as representations of three-dimensional objects. For each stroke, the artist selects a particular point of view and reconstructs the whole on the scale of the surface to be occupied, expanding from the sheet of paper to the wall and from the reach of a child's arm to the scale of an entire room. The drawings thus take possession of the space by disturbing the inherent flatness of the wall's surface through the multiplicity of the points of view that they combine.

These swirling, brightly colored strokes against the whiteness of the wall were echoed by the knotty, ligneous shapes of tree roots collected on the battlefield of Verdun and covered in india ink (Sans titre [Untitled], 2000). Black masses bearing witness to some of the darkest hours of the twentieth century, they seemed charred. In their beauty and horror they resembled Convert's black-lacquer cast of atomized cherry tree branches from the Seju-ji temple in Hiroshima (Cérisier atomisé du temple Seju-ji, Hiroshima, 1997-98). Black, too, were the plaster casts taken from the surfaces of paintings made by the artist's father—the results of this process (all titled Empreinte de peinture, 2000) looking like paintings from which the color has been drained and where all that remains is the dialogue of shadow and light that echoes the rugged texture of the surface. This course through positive and negative (according to the principle of the imprint that underlies this exhibition and Convert's entire oeuvre) was brought to completion with Empreinte négative de jambe, 2000, the negative print of a leg—the positive, in asphalt, is found at the entrance—and the two works titled Empreinte négative de main, 2000, negative prints of hands, one in black wax and the other in white wax: parallelepipeds of wax hollowed out by a cavity joining the shape of a leg or two joined hands.

By moving forward through Convert's works, viewers could weave the skeins of a story together: a story of genealogy, as Convert's daughter's drawings meet his father's paintings, while the casts of parts of his body signal his own presence in the world; a story of humanity, from life to death, from carefree play to extreme violence, from childhood (that of art and of the world) to the funerary rites of embalming; a story of techniques, where prehistoric wall paintings are reconfigured with the computer and natural forms are reproduced by being cast in suggestive materials and pushed to the extremes of complexity and refinement. All these intertwined stories are fundamentally anachronistic, inscribing the work of memory at the heart of linear chronology and favoring the resurgence of multiple time frames, both biographical and historical, in the viewer's present. Beyond their variety of aspect, material, and form, all Convert's works share the same oscillation between the primitive gesture and high technology, between the weight of time and atemporality, between history and anachronism.

Guitemie Maldonado

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.