For Abstract Room, Frédéric Caillard delves into his own practice and reflects on…
…his Monuments series
“The works of this series have the shapes of famous monuments and architectural landmarks, which makes them very pop. Classical pop art was typically quite “cold”, it was referencing industrial and mechanical production processes and had solid bright colors. The idea with the Monuments was to do something visually much warmer, using my technique that is derived from lyrical abstraction and that looks more organic.”
“It is now common to justify consumer activities with an “authenticity” or “cultural” label. The famous monuments are at the forefront of this new type of cultural marketing. I think my Monuments series speaks to that. There is this layer of thick, rich and elaborate paint, which in some way represents the cultural and artistic aspects, and which cover a monument that is reduced to its emblematic two-dimensional silhouette, to its commercial brand.”
“Hybridization has always been at the core of my practice. I like to pair different artistic categories with painting: architecture in the Monuments, music in the Guitars and the Vinyls, cinema in the Screens and the Celluloids, comics in the Speech Bubbles. The idea is to create unexpected visual languages by bringing together different sets of references which typically remain separate. I also like to combine artistic practices, mixing Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism or working on my oil paintings like if they were etching plates: I cover a dried paint layer with another color that I wipe. The new color remains in the holes and cracks, the underlying colors are polished, the contrasts are increased and the visual outcome looks halfway between an etching and a Richter-type painting. Surprisingly, this hybridization allows to get a better understanding of what paint is. You do not see the effects and the illusions that the paint typically produce but you see the paint itself.The matter of the paint is revealed, its surface looks petrified and all the details that customarily remain unseen are exposed, like the small craters, the crevices…”
“In the last few years, I have been doing a lot of research about the notion of support in contemporary painting. Support typically has three acceptations: it can be a structural support, a substrate or a communication vehicle. In classical painting, the structural support is the stretcher, the substrate is the canvas and the communication vehicle is the paint itself. I find the idea of supportless painting very interesting and I started to introduce it in my practice. I developed small Screens and Speech Bubbles only made of paint, around the ideas of substrate and of communication vehicle. They are fun pieces: they represent communication supports but have no support. They may be seen as pure content or simply as supports with no content at all. They reflect on the confusion between the object and its representation, in reference to René Magritte’s La Trahison des images (“Ceci n’est pas une pipe”) or to Jasper John’s work… When the Abstraction & Architecture project was developed, it made sense to start referring to the first acceptation of the word support. I made a few supportless Monuments to play with the idea of a building without an underlying structure. In representing the Sydney Opera House in a flat and supportless way, the walls and the utilitarian aspects of the building are abolished and the symbolic dimension of the monument is highlighted. It is another way to expose the prevalence of the brand in the architecture of monuments .”
Illustrations : Sydney Opera II (detail), 2018 / oil on acrylic / 17 x 36 cm. Sydney Opera III, 2018 / oil on acrylic / 17 x 36 cm. Courtesy Frédéric Caillard.