View of “Pierre Vadi,” 2012.

View of “Pierre Vadi,” 2012.

Pierre Vadi

View of “Pierre Vadi,” 2012.

For his recent exhibition, Pierre Vadi presented a group of works realized over the past two years. The pieces chosen, all sculptural, were arranged on the floor and formed a landscape seen from above, an imaginary city map. The elements—their materiality surprising, their colors artificial—intermixed an industrial finish with an intriguing kind of organicism, even a sensuality. The show’s title, “Cplsion Cldestine” (a poetic compression borrowed from the American writer David Foster Wallace), immediately announced the work’s psychological charge.

Arranged in a rigorous grid, the exhibition, occupying both floors of the gallery, articulated several “families” of works. Developed from distinct processes of fabrication, they were the result of casts and imprints of objects, forms taken from domestic environments. Autre exemple de la porosité de certaines frontières (Another Example of the Porosity of Certain Frontiers), 2012, is a black cube with a dense, opaque surface created by casting a cardboard box in resin and colored fiberglass. Each of the two versions of Poster, 2012, is a crumpled flat surface in epoxy resin covered in iridescent powder with the romantic image of what one imagines to be a sunset; they lie on the floor as if thrown there. Less precious, Brands-and-Bands, 2012, looks like a model of somber war architecture. Modest and trivial in form, almost funny, its surface is an imprint of bars of Swiss chocolate.

Purified, linear, Vadi’s exhibition aligned mute forms, silhouettes, and traces of objects, inducing a singular relationship to memory and suggesting clues of an absent life. Standardized, anonymous, their meaning floated in the neutral space of the gallery, suspended by a synthetic materiality that transposed them to the rank of images, of signs. They compose an intimate enigma, a long silent phrase defined with care by the artist. Subtly relating the perfect impersonality of industrial icons and an autobiographic tonality, “Cplsion Cldestine” contrasted the coldness, the impeccable finish of formal experiments with the fragile, intimate dimension of a dreamed-about everyday. The works were arranged on the floor like a collection of artifacts from an unspoken activity, the writing of a story to come, the excavation of the remains of a world set at a distance by an uncertain material, like what Fredric Jameson calls an “archaeology of the future.”

Like crawling creatures, the sculptures lent the space an atmosphere inhabited by oneiric, even visionary forms of life: Certain pieces, evoking boxes (a reference, once again, to memory, to accumulation, or to the “mystic writing pad” Sigmund Freud spoke about?), seem to evolve, to disintegrate, while others, such as Une histoire ultra-condensée de l’ère postindustrielle (An Ultra-Condensed History of the Postindustrial Era), 2012, become fetishes placed on austere concrete pedestals. The implication of a kind of animism culminated in Déconstruction, 2011, an architectural fragment cast in silicone that was like a long-limbed, undefined, disturbing animal with vibrantly colored flesh, mottled and extraordinary, a beast from elsewhere that seemed to haunt the exhibition.

Yann Chateigné Tytelman

Translated from French by Molly Stevens.