The Architecture of the Mind
An Essay by Léa Chauvel-Lévy, July 2018
Art Critic and Artistic Residence Director Léa Chauvel-Lévy gets into Vincent Mauger’s mind to decipher his practice.
The architectured spaces of Vincent Mauger operate like projection grounds: his own ground – the alveolae acting as the cells of his mental space – but also other’s, who can dive in and explore the human mind. It is a form of duality between architecture and biology that is exposed in his works, the embodiment of thoughts into actions. These metastructures reveal – with no filter – the journey of their creator. Metal, tiles, wood, glass, materials are diverted from their original purpose. It is the case of the bricks that typically constitute the foundations of buildings and that are then covered or overlaid. With Vincent Mauger, the bricks are accentuated, propelled on the front stage. They are the artwork, and at the same time they illustrate the train of thoughts of the artist as it develops. We can postulate to be facing an extension of the cerebral realm of the artist. Like these aluminum and stainless steel tubes and flakes, standing like soldiers before an entrance door and expressing the anxiety towards the unknown. What will we find behind this door? Thousands of questions come to mind before entering this space, that is at the same time closed and open and that earns a symbolic aura from the strategic positioning of the work at its entry.
Vincent Mauger’s monumental in situ installation in the Chapelle des Calvairiennes in Mayennes is in this regard typical of the contamination of space by imagination. The floor, covered with thousands of bricks, offers a new landscape. The bricks shape hills and mounts and invite to abstraction. But the main strength of this work is to introduce nature in a sacred place, to assert a chiasma between two ideas: the religious institution and the secular world. A second variation of the same piece was made for the Maréchalerie Art Center in Versailles. But the bricks were this time laid out so that they would open onto abysses. No more mounts nor hills, but craters, chasms and breaches. The status of the reenacted space is changing, the visitors standing insecure on unstable grounds. The architectures of the places taken over by Vincent Mauger are inevitably altered, and gain a new nature, every single time. Like these polystyrene elements which grow from a balcony. Or like these bottle cases which fully cover a ceiling.
Vincent Mauger’s works restructure spaces, contaminate them, like a swarm of bees that take on a chimney. They are organic extensions of architectures, but are fascinatingly made of materials associated with construction. The piece shown by Abstract Room wonderfully exemplifies this: it circumvents the linear edges typically associated with the bricks grammar and grants plasticity and flexibility to the notion of rigidity. It challenges architecture in order to bend it, twist it and play with it. Product of the human mind, architecture is here contemplated under its most conceptual angle.
Main Illustration : Vincent Mauger, Sans titre, 2012 / site-specific installation for the solo exhibition Super Asymmetry at the La Maréchalerie Art Center, Versailles / brick height 1,20 m, floor area ~120 m². Courtesy Vincent Mauger & briqueterie Bouyer-Leroux (la Séguinière). Photo Aurélien Mole.