Paris

Julien Crépieux, Cumulus d’après Canoe of Port des Français de Michel Blondela (1799), 2014, silk-screen, ink, and salt on tinted MDF, 31 1/2 x 46 7/8".

Julien Crépieux, Cumulus d’après Canoe of Port des Français de Michel Blondela (1799), 2014, silk-screen, ink, and salt on tinted MDF, 31 1/2 x 46 7/8".

Julien Crépieux

Galerie Jérôme Poggi

Julien Crépieux, Cumulus d’après Canoe of Port des Français de Michel Blondela (1799), 2014, silk-screen, ink, and salt on tinted MDF, 31 1/2 x 46 7/8".

A choreographed lightness radiated from Julien Crépieux’s “Corpusculum Flotans.” The exhibition title, suggesting small, floating bodies, shares that of a 2005 video work by the artist—a short meditation on passing clouds that is also a record of the eye looking toward the sky. Here, again, in a body of new work, Crépieux showed his concern with movement, not only in the visible world but in the mechanisms of its reception: the eye, the lens, and the captured image. Working in video, installation, and, increasingly, the two-dimensional techniques of collage and photography, Crépieux foregrounds the image along with the beholder’s constantly shifting gaze.

For his new group of silkscreens on black MDF (all 2014), Crépieux experimented with a crystalline technique that mimics the process of evaporation in order to render cumulus, stratus, and stratocumulus cloud formations and a stretch of clear sky. Details extracted from prints made by François Michel Blondela and John Webber during the eighteenth-century voyages of the Comte de La Pérouse and James Cook, Crépieux’s works were hung as a group, forming a new and distinct skyscape. These works also reference Luke Howard’s Essay on the Modifications of Clouds, 1803, in which the amateur English meteorologist forwarded a classification of clouds based on their modifications and manner of aggregation rather than on their form. Embracing the formal lability proposed by Howard, Crépieux creates exquisite surfaces in these works, for instance in Cumulus d’après Canoe of Port des Français de Michel Blondela (1799), in which, amid a billowing rendition of a cloud, the delicately undulating texture of the unique silkscreen breaks apart the lines of the original composition. The visual rhythm of the salt crystals left in the etching lines alternately absorb and disperse light, catching and reflecting it like waves.

Crépieux’s video installation L’Opérateur, 2013, floated at the end of the space as a mobile, suspended midair on sturdy metal rigging that links the projection screen to the projector. The video, shot by a ballerina as she followed a choreography determined by Crépieux, was realized in a Parisian dance studio, complete with pale polished floors, a wooden barre, and skylights. The dancer, in dark warm-up clothes, carries a heavy professional video camera as she earnestly performs a complete repertoire of cinematic directions: dolly, pan, front to rear, left to right, right to left. She seamlessly links each turn and tilt, elegantly tracing the path of her eye with her body and the heavy lens. When we see the camera and the dancer’s figure, she has at last turned the lens toward the mirror, reflecting a solitary beholder: herself. Erik Satie’s Vexations, an 1893 keyboard work whose theme is meant to be played 840 times in succession, provides a lean musical score for the drifting movements of both the dancer and the floating video screen. As if casting isolated notes adrift, Satie’s minimalist composition pulls away from harmony and embellishment.

Two text works were less successful, partly because what is most compelling in Crépieux’s practice functions outside language. For Twelve Angry Men, 42:02, 2014, Crépieux cut bold capital letters from black-and-white stills from the film version of Reginald Rose’s famous dramatic play, to spell out a line from the script on white paper: “You can hardly hear yourself think.” But, unlike letters on a page, Crépieux’s strongest work is never completely fixed. “Mainly playing with the gap between a recording and its rendering,” curator Vincent Romagny writes, “he proposes many works of which the shaping is also a mise en abime [sic].” In other words, while formally and conceptually grounded, Crépieux’s approach is romantic, seeking beauty in the inevitable discrepancy between the seeable and the seen.

Lillian Davies