Alain Bublex

Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois

What is an exhibition? In the eyes of Alain Bublex, it appears to be not only the time and place for a certain visibility given to a work but also a kind of break, a moment of suspension of the work: in other words, a temporary adjustment, the provisional immobilization of something in constant evolution, which will go on its way once again when the exhibition is over. Everything is both in suspension and in progress, arrested at the project stage. For example, in the four pieces titled 1/24ème (all works 2006), small Japanese model cars have been placed under glass like precious objects even before being finished. Mischievous yet revealing, these unfinished models in the midst of being assembled were exhibited here as complete sculptures in and of themselves, ironically installed on top of impeccable white pedestals (which, by contrast, are extremely finished).

To put it another way, Bublex unfurls an aesthetic adventure in which the project itself becomes the work’s form. It is not surprising then to see the exhibition take on the appearance of a construction site and the artist, the role of engineer. And, in fact, at the entrance, among a swarm of blueprints, drawings, and models, La voiture Meunier-Béraud, an enormous volume made of wood and mounted on wooden blocks, is offered as a prototype of an old vehicle conceived in the ’50s by artisan Paul Meunier and his carpenter brother-in-law Gabriel Béraud. This “missing link” from the Darwinian evolution of the automobile seems to Bublex the precursor to today’s minivans. The artist does not hide his desire to see this work placed in a car museum. But for now, the piece is still under construction, far from being finished, and the artist intends to work toward its completion over the course of subsequent solo shows.

Another possible strategy for keeping this thoroughly considered, elaborate work in a project state: allowing its format to remain unfixed, as the artist has done with the digital drawings offered in various forms, from framed image to wallpaper. What allows this variation of editions is the digital nature of the drawing, which has no pixelization and therefore can be realized on any scale without affecting its clarity. Hence, the collector acquires a disc containing the digital drawing and the software, allowing him or her to decide on the format. Take, for example, Paysage 006, a photograph of a landscape to which a large snow-covered mountain has been added: In small format, the fictional intervention is almost invisible, and everything seems part of a realistic landscape. In large format, however, the fake mountain jumps out at you and suddenly makes the surrounding world seem unreal. And thus we find one of the lines of force that has traversed Bublex’s work for more than a decade: the insinuation of fiction into reality.

Leaving the gallery, one notices a strange hot dog cart parked in the courtyard. Closed for days at a time and for various reasons (NO DELIVERY TODAY, WILL RETURN IN 5 MINUTES, CHANGE OF OWNER), Le kiosque Wet Stones has the appearance of functionality but finally withdraws from any commercial efficiency. It’s an ambivalent work, half inside, half outside the field of art. No doubt this arrested prototype is a fitting introduction to, or exit door from, the works in progress (always in progress) of Bublex.

Jean-Max Colard

Translated from French by Jeanine Herman.