Clément Rodzielski

Cardenas Bellanger

Artists like twenty-nine-year-old Clément Rodzielski, who hails from the French Southwest and went to school in Paris, may signal a new direction in France today. Their work, which employs methods on hand consistent with conceptual content, is a welcome break from the fixation on high production values and the spectacular that was rife among the previous two generations of French artists. Rodzielski’s exhibition “Grands a” (Big A’s) strikingly disarranged Cardenas Bellanger’s space with little more than ink-jet prints on paper, pre-existing offset-printed items, and MDF panels (all works Untitled, 2008). In his use of recycled images, it is significant that, unlike American artists Wade Guyton and Kelley Walker, Rodzielski does not fall back on the traditional support of the canvas nor otherwise try to emulate painting. Moreover, his choice of pictures here excluded artistic and scholarly references as well as pop-culture references from the past or those that are, per se, attention-getting. His clearing out of all such (even remotely) authoritative devices means that the viewer has nothing to hang on to but Rodzielski’s way of dissecting images.

As can be seen in two altered fashion magazines, the subject portrayed is peripheral to the logic with which Rodzielski shifts found images from one state to another in relation to a system of presentation. In these pieces, after removing the front cover, he angularly cut and discarded large sections of each successive page, for about thirty right-hand pages, leaving only a figureless element from each. Once the still bound magazine is closed, set on a plinth, and weighted down by a glass plate, its cut pages flatten out into a horizontal anti-collage.

Similarly, Rodzielski reduces the idea of the diptych to two successive same-sided pages in a lifestyle magazine, whose ideological monotony is unmasked by the black holes he cut into it. An angular shape removed from the center of a homogeneous pair of home-decoration pictures is filled in from behind by a page spray-painted black. The images are scanned, blown up, printed by ink jet on paper, and pinned to MDF panels. One reproduction is directly on the dark ground, whereas the other is separated by the former picture, a sliver of which peeks out, letting us deduce that these pages never left the magazine’s binding. They were incised with an X-Acto knife simultaneously and scanned one page after the other. The panels of one diptych hung side by side, whereas the left panel of the second diptych leaned against the wall, its right panel sitting atop and overhanging a sizable board set horizontally on the stairwell railing.

Conceived and executed on site, distinct configurations for hanging revised the many works in the show. Two identical low-resolution ink-jet printouts of black curves, for example—according to the artist, the letter a in a font too big for the large sheet it’s printed on—were spray-painted in a light, mottled, two-tone pattern, then overlaid with strips of black tape that both transform the composition and tape it to its support. One version was minimally taped to a wall; the other, elaborately taped to a huge panel wedged into an odd nook in the gallery, created a plane not unlike a pivoting hidden door. “Grands a” could be seen as consisting of two versions of almost everything, poised to take on a duplicate’s limitless potential.

Jian-Xing Too