Aurélien Froment

Galerie Lucile Corty

Using a system of visual and linguistic associations, magician Benoît Rosemont dazzles spectators with illusion and feats of memory. Aurélien Froment has performed with Rosemont, participating in his magic act, and for this exhibition, the artist channeled the magician’s mnemonic strategies and spectacles. Froment’s Les Paravents (The Folding Screens; all works 2009), made of wood covered in raw linen, formed the show’s physical and conceptual backdrop. Devoid of pigment and, apart from one color photograph, imageless, three of the folding screen’s panels are fixed within the structure’s metal support, while the fourth has been casually propped against a nearby wall. Through the element’s absence from one section of the work, the screen can also act as a frame. Dividing the gallery space, this temporary wall, like a magician, discreetly directed spectators’ movements and sight lines.

While orchestrating the mise-en-scène of the gallery space, Froment also considered that of the institution. His photograph Vue partielle de Henri Matisse, La danse inachevée, 1931, collections du Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (Partial View of Henri Matisse, the Unfinished Danse, 1931, Collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) was pinned to the wall and pictures a seated guard at Paris’s modern art museum. Leaning to her left, the attendant tilts her upper body toward the side of a dividing wall where Matisse’s masterpiece hangs. For the photograph in Debuilding (Daniel Buren, Murs de peintures, 1965–1977, collections du Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) (Debuilding [Daniel Buren, Walls of Paintings, 1965–1977, Collection of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris]), the same guard is seen bending to her right, into the space where one of Buren’s iconic wall paintings is installed. As part of this work, Froment had also scattered toylike fragments, rectangular wooden blocks painted in Buren’s signature color repertoire, on the gallery’s deep windowsill.

Like the sculptural elements of Debuilding, Froment’s photographs can also at times reduce the legibility of the original subject. One of two photographs in The Palace of Fine Arts (Panama Pacific International Exhibition, 1915)—a shot of the neoclassical pavilion in San Francisco—is partially obscured by a black screen that traces the silhouette of the stone structure and the surrounding forested skyline. Holding the dark frame in front of the camera lens, shifted slightly to the right of the landscape that it originally outlined, Froment disrupts the photograph’s illusion of depth. Similarly, the artist poses between layers of cut screens for the photograph dbqp (hors série). A work by Pierre Leguillon, the life-size frames isolate Froment’s two arms and a white-shod foot—deliberately dividing and obscuring his body.

Upstairs, Froment’s Table de rappel de Benoît Rosemont (Benoît Rosemont’s Table of Recollection), ten color prints pinned to the wall, pictured and expanded upon the magician’s mnemonic system. These images, used by Rosemont in the creation of spectacle, are here reduced to a banal series of illustrations of household objects, animals, and shapes. Likening the strategies of the magician to those of an artist, Froment converts the actions of both to a series of real, and legible, gestures—unraveling what Daniel Buren, in his essay “Beware” (1969–70), described as “those conjuring tricks so beloved of twentieth-century art.”

Lillian Davies