@ardeinv
adrien.vescovi@gmail.com

Biography

Adrien Vescovi lives and works in Marseille since 2017 after a long practice installed in the mountains of Haute-Savoie. The artist reinvests with contemporary issues the question of the fee canvas and a painting thought at an architectural and natural scale. The importance of the context in which the artist comes to install his works is for him an essential factor of study. Adrien composes temporalities, assembles colors worked according to different alchemical processes, from air (sun nad moon rays), earth (ochres and plants) and fire (cooking, infusions). His way of sewing is a way of painting. Chance is his ally.

Born in 1981 and gratuades from École Supérieure d’art de l’agglomération d’Annecy, his work has been presented in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Mexico. This year his work will be shown in Madrid for a solo exhibition at the Albaran Bourdais Gallery, but also the Casino du Luxembourg, at the Yvon Lambert bookstore or in the steets if Ghent in Belgium for a project with O19. In 2021, he participates in the 22nd prize of the Pernod Ricard Foundation with the project Bonaventure qigned by Lilou Vidal. His work has also benefited from a first solo exhibition in the contemporary art center Le Grand Café in Saint-Nazaire. In 2020, despite the health crisis, an important installation was shown at the exhibition “Sur pierres brûlantes” with Triangle-France – Astérides at the Friche Belle de Mai in MArseille during Manifesta 13, the first version of Soleil Blanc project, a narrative he has been developping since then from exhibition to exhibition. In 2019 his work was presented at the galerie des Ponchettes with the MAMAC in Nice, at the Villa Noailles for the International Fashion and Accessories Festival as well as at the Palais de Tokyo for the exohibition “Future, Old, Fugitive”, at the Vieille Charité in Marseille and at the Musée Régional d’Art Contemporain Occitanie in Sérignan. His works are notably in the collections of the Centre National des Arts Plastiquesn the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain de Nice, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, the Frac Provence Alpes Côtes d’Azur and the Fond Communal d’Art Contemporain de la ville de Marseille.

CV

2000 – 2006 Ecole supérieure d’art de l’agglomération d’Annecy (DNSEP)

*In 2022

Solo show
Librairie Yvon Lambert, Paris / FR
Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg / LUX
Galeria Albarran-Bourdais, Madrid / ES

Group show
Splendid Isolation, SMAK, Ghent / BE
Fotokino, Marseille, FR
Art Beat Gallery, Tbilissi / GEO
Art in public places, 019, Ghent / BE

*Solo shows

2021 Soleil Blanc, Centre d’art contemporain Le Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire / FR
2020 Slow Down Abstractions, Studio Fotokino, Marseille / FR
2019 Mnemosyne, Galerie des Ponchettes, MAMAC, Nice / FR
2019 mens momentanea, 7 Clous, Marseille / FR
2017 For the memory of a life time, ChezNeon, Lyon / FR
2017 Mnemonics, Galerie Ceysson Benetiere, Saint-Etienne / FR
2017 Résidence et exposition, Le Cyclop, Milly-la Forêt / FR
2016 Turn off the lights, Casa de Francia, Institut Français d’Amériques Latines, Mexico / MX
2015 Amnesia, Tripode, Rezé / FR
2015 3XL – DSCN1989, Nosbaum Reding Project / LUX
2014 Sugar and spice, Galerie TORRI, Paris / FR
2013 Afterwards, Mosquito Coast Factory, Campbon / FR
2013 Brain Freeze, Glassbox, Paris / FR

*Group shows and other medium

2021 Bonaventure, 22nd Prize Pernod Ricard, Fondation Pernod Ricard, Paris / FR
2021 Bella vista, Centre d’art contemporain, Saint-Nazaire / FR
2020 Sur pierres brûlantes, Triangle France – Astérides / Ateliers de la Ville de Marseille, Friche La Belle de Mai, Marseille / FR
2020 Crystal Clear, Pera Museum, Istanbul / TUK
2020 Your Friends and Neighbors, High Art Gallery, Paris / FR
2019 Par hasard, Centre de la Vieille Charité & La friche Belle de Mai, Marseille / FR
2019 Futur, ancien, fugitif , Palais de Tokyo, Paris / FR
2019 La mesure du monde, MRAC, Sérignan / FR
2019 Festival international de mode de Hyères, Villa Noaille, Hyères / FR
2019 Viridarium Chymicum, San Sebastiano da Po, IT (residency)
2018 Accrochage dans la collection, Musée d’Arts de Nantes / FR
2018 Biennial IntoNature , Curated by Hans der Hartog Jager, Frederiksoord / NL
2018 Rapido Rapido , Collection N9, Interior and the Collectors, Noirmoutier / FR
2018Sometimes, however I am called to action by the siren song of the narrative faction , Curated by Furiosa Monaco, Marseille / FR
2018 Norma, Curated by Maud Salembier, Maison Pelgrims, Bruxelles / BE
2018 Aller-Retour, Belsunce Projects, Marseille / FR
2017 Club Andalouse, curated by Marie de Gaulejac, Paris / FR
2017 Back to the peinture, La Station, Nice / FR
2017 Villa Datris, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue / FR
2016 Don’t read books, Chez Neon, Lyon / FR
2016 In & out, Villa du Parc, Annemasse / FR
2016 30 ans déjà, Villa du Parc, Annemasse / FR
2016 Art Ephémère, Marseille / FR
2016 Galerie Praz-Delavallade, Paris / FR
2016 One Thousand Books, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhague / D
2016 Sequoya Dream, La Galerie, Noisy-le-sec / FR
2015 Problème de type Grec, sur une invitation de Jagna Ciuchta, La Galerie, Noisy-le-sec / FR
2015 My internet…, Galerie Jeanroch Dard, Bruxelles / BE
2014 (IM)MATERIEL, Galerie Jean Fournier, Paris / FR
2014 Le corps invisble, Galerie Edouard Manet, Gennevilliers / FR
2014 Rien de plus tout du moins, sur une invitation de Benoît-Marie Moriceau, Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine / FR
2014 Art is hope, Palais de Tokyo, Paris / FR
2013 Une nouvelle unité , Les loges de la bastide Saint-Joseph, Marseille / FR
2013 Romantic duo,  Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille / FR
2013 Looking for Vidéo, Galerie Claudine Papillon, Paris / FR
2012 Keep me in suspense, The Central House of Artists, Moscou / RUS
2012 Bauhaus. Entretenir des choses matérielles, Kunstforum, Essen / DE
2012 Désarchitecture, Galerie Gourvennec Ogor, Marseille / FR
2012 Centre Aéré, Galerie de l’ENSAN, Nancy / FR
2011 Inauguration, Galerie Gourvennec Ogor, Marseille / FR
2011 Vigoureuse Affection, A l’atelier, Ivry-Sur-Seine / FR
2011 Ecole alternative bAbA, Paris / FR
2011 Colloque « L’aire du Jeu », INHA, Paris / FR
2011 Grand concours de tableaux monochromes, Galerie Jean Brolly, Paris / FR
2010 Aires de Jeux, Centre d’art Micro Onde, Vélizy-Villacoublay / FR
2010 Ils chantent et ils jouent, les gens entrent, Maison des Arts, Grand Quevilly / FR
2010 Collection Permanente, Mains d’oeuvres, Saint-Ouen / FR
2010 55e Salon de Montrouge / FR
2009 Opération tonnerre, Mains d’oeuvres, Saint-Ouen / FR
2009 Ligne à ligne, Galerie Nationale d’Indonésie, Jakarta
2009 Déminage, MAMAC, Liège / BE
2008 Playtime, Béton Salon, Paris / FR

*Public Collections

2020 FRAC PACA / Maseille / FR
2019 CNAP / FR
2019 MAMAC / Nice / FR
2016 Musée des beaux arts de Nantes / FR
2012 FRAC PACA / FR
2011 Conseil Général des Côtes d’Armor / FR
2009 Ville de Montrouge /FR

*Residencies 

2016 Cité internationale des Arts, Paris / FR
2014 Summer Lake, Annecy / FR
2009 Triangle France, Marseille / FR

*Publications

2022 A slow boil, Adrien Vescovi, Nature’s Alchemist, Selvedge issue 102 September, par Anne Laure Camillerri
2022 Pour une écologie de l’abstraction, par Marjolaine Levy, Réseau DDA, AICA France & Art Newspaper France
2021 Revue 02, Autonmne 2021, Adrien Vescovi par Guillaume Lasserre
2020 Les inrockuptibles, 14.09.2020, Des artistes exposent leur singularité “Sur pierres brûlantes”, Ingrid Luquet-Gad
2020 Paris Match, 30.07.2020, Les bouillons artistiques d’Adrien Vescovi, Anaël Pigeat
2019 TL Magazine n°32, Interview par Rachel Moron
2019 Les inrockuptibles, 6.11.2019, Résiste, Ingrid Luquet-Gad
2019 The Drawer, revue de dessin, Volume 17 – Rose
2019 Palais n° 30, Futur, ancien, fugitif, le magazine du Palais de Tokyo
2019 Catalogue 003, 34e Festival International de mode, de photographie et d’accesossoires de mode, Hyères, La Ville Noailles
2019 Madame Figaro, n°1849, Marseille l’art de vibre, Lisa Vignoli
2019 La Marseillaise, Novembre 2019, Adrien Vescovi, Alchimiste de la couleur par Alain Paire
2019 Narthex, « Mnémosyme » : l’infusion du temps, au MAMAC hors-les-murs à Nice par Odile de Loisy
2018 ArtPresse, Les galeries d’art contemporain de la province au monde, par Alain Quemin
2017 Monsieur Météo, Entretiens, Mouvement par Alain Berland
2017 Milly-la-Forêt : les artistes invités au Cyclop célèbrent le hasard, Le Parisien, Cécile Chevalier
2017 Crash Magazine n°79, par Dorothée Dupsuis
2014 Adrien Vescovi : support, surface et Lune, Quotidien de l’Art, par Jullie Portier
2010 A New Dynasty, Catalogue Contemporary Art Magazine, Numéro 3, Isabelle Le Normand

 

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Close to forty years after the release of Ursula K. Le Guin’s celebrated work of science fiction theWord for World is Forest (1) (1972), an anti-colonialist novel and ecological manifesto telling the story of the Athshean people’s struggle to protect the planet Athshe and its rich ecosystem from an invasion by the Terrans, forest destroyers whose overexploitation has dramatic consequences, the conclusions of the IPCC report, published in the summer of 2021 in the middle of global pandemic, render this sci-fifable more and more realistic. In light of this, the international art scene “feels concerned,” understandably, by ecological disorder and other issues related to life and the Anthropocene. In the past few years, numerous exhibitions have focused on environmental and ecological issues: “Exposure: Native art and Political Ecology,”“Critical Zones: Observatories for Earthly Politics,” “The Coming World: Ecology as The New Politics 2030-2100,” “General Ecology,” “Ecologies, a Song for our Planet,” “Eco-Visionaries,” “Actions for the Earth: Art, Care & Ecology,” “Courants verts,” “Nous les Arbres,” “At the End of theDay,” “Inventing Nature,” “Earthkeeping, Earthshaking,” “Time of the Earth,” etc. As diverse as they are, these exhibitions, whose carbon footprints are unknown, have as common denominator a questioning of our relationship to life via Bruno Latour’s thinking on “being in the world,”rethinking a form of anthropocentrism in order to remove the boundary between human and non-human by imagining a community of the living, or displaying the combat of artists turned researchers and activists. Building huts out of recycled materials, making cold using heat, recording communication between trees using sensors, or filming fictious trials of multinationals responsible for global warming are some of the many approaches expressing a message of commitment and testifying to an ecology of art.

In the fall of 2021, before entering La Criée in Rennes, a facilitator informed the audience for Elvia Teotski’s (2) exhibition “Molusma” (3) of a non-human presence with whom they’d be sharing the space. Hundreds of grasshoppers covered the floor. The audience moved about with the attention needed to avoid crushing the insects, which, oddly, in the white cube and far from their native space, were not jumping. Those which, frightened by faltering feet, had no desire to “make community” with humans took refuge in little brick structures made out of earth and algae that had washed up on the coast of Bretagne, the equilibrium of which is threatened by over thirty years of intensive pig farming. Another type of earthen brick was produced by the artist, to the point of intoxication (4), for the installation Des Canyons refermés, les Collines se forment (2020), using red mud taken from polluted slag heaps in the Marseille region. With techniques from science and tools of the artisan (5), Teotski denounces the toxicity of the soil, bringing attention to the fragility and vulnerability, degradation and transformation of ecosystems.

Alongside this steadfast ecology of art, some artists attest, rather, to an ecological art. Though less visible than Teotski, Adrien Vescovi (6) puts his hands to the ground just as often. From 2015 to 2017, the artist gathered wild flowers and plants in the alpine pastures of the Savoie region (he set up shop in Gets, Haute-Savoie, at 1600m) and is now collecting ochre and other clays near Marseille, the starting point of his painting. One won’t find the usual painter’s tools overrunning his studio, but those of an alchemist. Beside the books holding dye recipes that the artist keeps secret, decoction baths from collected plants are put to work on monumental textiles of recycled cotton and linen. Collected water is heated, then cooled, in a long steeping process that improves the color palette. Suffused with plants and minerals and dyed with chlorophyll and Sienna, the sheets will experience nature again. Like Edvard Munch exposing his paintings to the elements, Vescovi hangs his canvases outdoors to imprint them with atmospheric changes, sun, moon, and wind, before sewing them together. With landscapes within landscapes, the work adds optic and haptic dimensions to the natural elements, as well as a reflection on issues related to the world of textiles, among the biggest polluters in industry.The large canvases of Madras (2018), Soleil Blanc (2020) and Slow Abstraction (2020) celebrate form while giving it a transitive and decidedly contextual dimension: “I’m a very formal kind of a person—form is what creates discourse itself.” (7)

Diving into color is the core of Nicolas Floc’h’s (8) photography. With dozens of blue, green or orange monochromes arranged in a grid, a quick glance might consider them just another colorful abstraction. Yet, informed by their titles, these works stray from the monochrome canon. In Colonne d’Eau, Atlantique, Ouessant (2016), Colonne d’Eau, Pacifique, entre Okinawa et Taiwan (2017), Colonne d’Eau, Port Miou (2018), and Colonne d’Eau, – 40 mètres, Pacifique, Shimoda, Japon (2019), photographed by the artist at the beginning of the 2000s during deepwater dives, one finds as many underwater landscapes as colors, leading one to think it time to stop associating the sea with the color blue. Veritable cross-sections, the photographs testify to biological changes in the marine environment, with an exceptional diversity of color coming from variations in the concentration of phytoplankton, dissolved organic substances, or mineral particles. A double reading can be made of these wide-angle shots, which are taken in natural light: they’re both abstractions of abysses and witnesses to the degradation of underwater biodiversity. In 1969, Bruce Nauman photographed the polluted skies of Los Angeles to make monochromes (LA Air). Forty years later, Floc’h explores underwater depths to obtain, in turn, blocks of color that reveal the chromatic effects of pollution.

If formalism (as the interest in form for its own sake) means that a work speaks of nothing but itself, then the work of Vescovi and Floc’h—calling up memories of Yves Klein as “recorder of atmospheric traces upon a canvas” and promoter of monochromes—offer another possible approach, one that might be called “political formalism.”

1 – Ursula K. Le Guin, The Name of the World is Forest [1972], translated from English by H.L. Planchat, Paris,Robert Laffont, Ailleurs et demain series, 1979

2 – Elvia Teotski, born 1983 in Toulouse, lives and works in Marseille. The artist was trained in agronomy and the economy of rural development in tropical regions.

3 – Molusma (Greek: filth, stain). The term was proposed in the 1960s by marine biologist Maurice Fontaine to designate the present geological era, marked by the production of waste. It was later abandoned in favor of the word “anthropocene.”

4 – After several days of making these bricks out of polluted earth, the artist was poisoned.

5 – Each of Teotski’s works demands an in-depth analysis and study of its environmental context. FromMarseille to Mexico, Bretagne and Belgium, she makes long-term methodical observations of the area and systematically collaborates with activists and scientists. After the period of observation comes the period of manipulation: Teotski digs into the earth, forms bricks, manipulates copper sulfate (Archéologie Future, 2017)or molds agar-agar (À Chaque Jour sa Surprise, 2018).

6 – Adrien Vescovi, born 1981 in Thonon-les-Bains, lives and works in Marseille.

7 – Interview with Dorothée Dupuis, “Turn off the Lights,” Casa de Francia, Mexico, September 2016.

8 – Nicolas Floc’h, born 1970 in Rennes, lives and works in Paris.

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For an ecology of abstraction by Marjolaine Lévy
Art Newspaper France, AICA France

The sun, which since antiquity has played an essential role in our utopian imaginations, is the ultimate source of energy, one that transcends geographical boundaries and is capable of healing the human condition and our environment.

Adrien Vescovi locates his interest for the sun in solidarity with nature, treated neither as a master nor as a slave, but as a material. With his work he foregrounds an epistemology of the sun and of the south through an ecology of processes, materials and forms.

The sun is the fundamental component in his body of works entitled “Soleil Blanc” (1) (2020), in reference to the glare of light on snow. Alluding to the main color of the sun, which is “white”, the canvases and installations part of “Soleil Blanc” unfold the many chromatic possibilities expressed by light and encourage the viewer to look beyond the hegemonically imposed “white” purity of our environment to appreciate the many shades of white, as well as the traces of obsolescence created by natural agents throughout the passage of time.

These works are the result of a long process of experimentation that was developed by Vescovi while he was living in the Alpine region of Haute Savoie (2015-2017), when the artist started to use atmospheric elements and vegetal components as the main agents in his work. Vescovi gathered wild flowers and plants which he put to work, through decoction baths, on monumental textiles of recycled cotton and linen. He then hung his canvases up outside his atelier to imprint them with atmospheric agents – rain, snow, the rays of the sun and moon, and the wind – before sewing them together.

The various different solar radiations of UV A and B, particularly strong in the upper Alps yet invisible to the human eye, become palpable on the canvases, making evident the immersive and active role of light and the natural environment. The artist shares authorship of the work with the natural elements while accompanying the textile in its state of transformation. Nature is not something external to the canvas nor a subject matter to be passively depicted – playing instead an active part in the process.   

Time is another fundamental agent in Adrien Vescovi’s ecology of practice. The artist invites time to act on his canvases in the manner of acid biting into an etched plate. The inscription of time onto the fabric materializes in traces on the fiber and in the painting. Vescovi infuses his textiles with the geological notion of time, dyeing each section with natural pigments collected from different locations, each standing for a lyrical, geological layer. By doing so he inscribes the work in the time of nature, outside the dictatorship of chronological time, paying attention to multiple notions of time.

In the works produced after his move to Marseille, the technique shifts from vegetal to mineral pigments: ochers and earths extracted from the ground in the Vaucluse, Roussillon or Burgundy, not to mention from Italy, Cyprus and Morocco, impregnate the textile with a Mediterranean savor.

The textile becomes like a cyanotype absorbing the landscape and the earth in its fibers. This process approaches that of the photographic medium as a recording device. At the opposite pole of being “site specific”, the work carries within it the specificity of the place where it was created and has been exhibited. Through a form of “atmospheric” painting, the canvases absorb the context around them. In this sense, Vescovi’s art, although abstract, is nevertheless exceedingly representational.

The dyeing technique is an ancestral one wherein a substance is placed into a pot of water and heated to extract the dye compounds into a solution with the water. Vescovi collects the water, heats it and then cools it in a long steeping process that generates an unpredictable color palette. Then the textiles to be dyed are added to the pot, and held at a simmer until the desired color is achieved. The water is then often reused to produce new works.

While the textile industry generates one-fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution through the use of chemicals, the work of Vescovi, as the philosopher Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent argues (2), can be seen as a kind of“soft chemistry”, working at ambient temperature and pressure, and involving long and reversible processes. The colors soak deep into the textile fibers of old recycled bed sheets rich in embroidery and history, inking the material with the memory of places.

Through patience and care, Vescovi’s approach transforms and recycles humble materials into opulent compositions of extraordinary beauty. His textiles boldly occupy space, bisect it, interrupt and engage in dialogue with it in a way that is pivotal, sculptural, and an animated invitation to the body and the senses. Often produced horizontally on the floor, when the textiles are elevated they form a landscape that uses all the plasticity of fabric to create a soft abstraction that changes our perception of space.

His pictorial spaces and immersive installations absorb us as participants and they are spaces of experience. They can be physical, aesthetic, transcendental or even religious, and they are always impressive. Some works are installed in close proximity to one another, while others stand on individual supports or lie stretched out on the floor. They often occupy unexpected spaces of the buildings that host them, triggering a discourse on architecture from its folds and most soft parts.

In an alternation of repetition and difference, the works make sense of the toile libre and the infinite possibility and length of the fiber. Rather than as individual canvases, we might think of them as layers or sediments. But also as a sort of narrative space and montage that develops starting from the cutting grid. For the artist the grid acts both as a motif and as a support. It becomes a catalyst for the unfolding of various processes, a pretext for the crystallization of committed forms and materials.

This became explicit after the artist started to draw with textile in the series “Land” (2019, ongoing), where the layers of lands are represented not only through an earthy color palette created by mineral pigments but also through morbid shapes carefully cotoured.

Vescovi’s investigation into the spatial, sensorial, and temporal dimensions of forms is rooted in the inspiration he draws from artists that have redefined the connection between painting, sculpture and performance such as Franz Erhard Walther. But there is also an indebtedness to the pictorial landscapes of Etel Adnan and to those designed by Roberto Burle Marx, whose modernist parks in Brazil, composed of sensuous shapes, colors, and indigenous specimens, were paid a visit by Vescovi in 2018.

Away from being explicitly discursive – but rather aiming to play with intimacy in a subtle interplay of interiority and exteriority – the work of Adrien Vescovi affirms a highly important discourse. A discourse concerning ecology, understood according to Isabelle Stengers, as a way to determine the question of habitat, the context in which you undertake your labor, and the habits that circumscribe your methodologies. His oeuvre embodies and redeploys the influence of Southern and popular cultures: their myths, magical rituals, traditions, economic reality, and their craftsmanship.

The memory of the light is probably the first thing you encounter on waking up from a period of amnesia. Awakening from a state of coma after an accident constituted an important starting point in the artist’s development and his interest in memory. Through his work the imprint of memories on the landscape, climatic memory and tale of Anthropocene intertwine and poses questions on the material and environmental heritage we will pass down to coming generations.

  1. The title of this series of works was also the title of an exhibition held at the Grand-Café, Centre d’Art Contemporain de Saint-Nazaire, 2021.

  2. See the conversation between Adrien Vescovi and Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent organized by Thalie Foundation

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Solar Poetics, On Adrien Vescovi’s Ecology of Practice
by Silivia Franceschini

“A few months ago, for example,” wrote Yves Klein in his Chelsea Hotel Manifesto, “I felt the urge to register the signs of atmospheric behaviour by recording the instantaneous traces of spring showers on a canvas, of southerly winds, and of lightning (needless to say, the last-mentioned ended in a catastrophe). For instance, a trip from Paris to Nice might have been a waste of time had I not spent it profitably by recording the wind. I placed a canvas, freshly coated with paint, on the roof of my white Citroën. As I drove down Route National 7 at 100 kilometres an hour, the heat, the cold, the light, the wind, and the rain all combined to age my canvas prematurely.” “After all,” he concluded, “my aim is to extract and obtain the trace of the immediate from all natural objects, whatever their origin – be they human, animal, vegetable, or atmospheric.”

Making the journey from Marseille to Nice at the start of summer 2019 to attend the opening of Adrien Vescovi’s show at the Galerie des Ponchettes, I found myself thinking about the trips Vescovi had often made between Paris and the Savoie with his rolled canvases, then latterly between Paris and Marseille, and my mind drifted to the image of the artist’s large canvases now hung facing the ocean on the Promenade des Anglais, exposed to the wind and the sun for several months, and to Adrien’s statement that his paintings function to “register the landscape”. Adrien Vescovi’s paint work is a rather curious dish. Without the assistance of a roller or brush, he instead cooks his canvases in an infusion of plants picked from the alpine pastures of the Savoie before offering them up to the elements. “To read making longitudinally, as a confluence of forces and materials, rather than laterally, as a transposition from image to object, is to regard it as such a form-generating – or morphogenetic – process,” wrote the anthropologist Tim Ingold. “This is to soften any distinction we might draw between organism and artefact.” Vescovi’s paintings, which might better be termed dyes, are therefore the product of different atmospheric forces which all have a stake in the outcome of the processes put in place by the artist – processes that result in the canvas “loading” or rather “taking on” the landscape in which they are inscribed: components in a temporality of faire – doing – that shifts to share itself with a more passive laisser-faire. A useful parallel might be drawn with the artist Vivian Suter who, after a storm which ravaged her studio in the Guatemalan jungle and lashed the canvases stored there with rain, earth and leaves, decided to leave her paintings out in the open air and to use what the environment had put at her disposal as paint: the juice of herbs, flowers and plants. In this way she used unexpected obstacles for her own purposes rather than trying to combat or protect herself from them. The developing bath of plant infusions in which Vescovi soaks and boils his canvases is not to be found in the darkness of a lab but in the open air, where the canvases are quite literally exposed and sometimes even overexposed to the light that accelerates their disintegration. Heatstroke. This makes me think of the heatstroke to which the artist Katinka Bock makes her folded materials vulnerable, placing them directly under the sunlight on the roofs of the museums in which she has been invited to exhibit. As I wrote in an essay dedicated to Bock’s work, these processes don’t undermine the activeness of the artist’s hand, but rather allow forms to be inscribed in temporalities which might otherwise have passed them by, thereby creating an equilibrium between human and atmospheric forces. Notions of disclosure and unveiling endow this materialist phenomenology with an unexpected sort of spirituality. The way Adrien Vescovi arranges his canvases – sewed together so that large sections of colour are suspended or superimposed on top of each other – constitutes a strange hieratic assemblage. Might this be due to the fact that apart from the cotton of his canvases he also uses embroidered and embellished bed covers as material: pieces of fabric from another era which evoke the material used to make chasubles? At the Galerie des Ponchettes, Vescovi’s works are arranged so as to resemble a church’s nave and the public is free to circulate among large strips of free-hanging fabric, while jars containing his colourful concoctions are placed on the floor alongside ropes that run the length of the gallery walls, giving the impression of a ritualistic or even liturgical apparatus, which nonetheless has nothing confessional about it. One might be more inclined to draw parallels with Hélio Oiticica’s ‘Parangolés’, performed on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, or with Franz Erhard Walther’s colourful wall formations which Vescovi would have encountered as a regular visitor to Mamco when he was a student in Geneva. There are so many ways of making paintings experiential, of uniting the living, moving body with colour; of producing an unfolding, an extension of the head-on relationship with the painting in order to generate a more immersive environment from the coloured surface, as evidenced in Vescovi’s installation at the Palais de Tokyo where the arrangement of suspended canvases over 16-feet in length created a vast tent through which the public could walk. This sort of shelter undoes any notion of monumentality. A critic once compared Walther’s works to “sleeping giants” but one might rather confer a metaphysical and meditative propensity to their overpowering size and the silence that it provokes, rather than a form of disempowering domination. Folded in such a way as to give shelter, the canvas offers a form of immersion and absorption which thwarts any of the aggressiveness that might commonly be associated with monumentality.

The colours Vescovi uses are impure – neither bright nor strong – though this statement could probably do with further nuance and revaluation because Vescovi’s latest work, exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, includes much more radiant colours for the first time and strangely recalls the shades of Georgia O’Keeffe’s layered landscapes of skies, deserts and flowers, arranged in more stratified layers than in his previous work. Due to the experimental aspect of Vescovi’s process, colours are usually washed out, stained and mottled so that they never become abstractions. These colours inscribe the paintings within a period of time, and consequently reference the human in all its impurity, finitude and vulnerability.

The same can be said of the pieces in which Vescovi presents canvases rolled around old steel bars whose rust at times seeps through and engulfs the fabric.  The comparison with ancient manuscript seems difficult to avoid but Vescovi is more interested in the process of oxidisation which usually goes unnoticed. Around a sculpture of a Cyclops in the forêt de Milly near Fontainebleau, Vescovi placed white cotton canvases, lain over steel rails, held together by wooden logs and iron bars, which quickly became swollen with water and covered in leaves. His aim was to obtain a trace of the immediate. Immaculate canvases corrupted by time and meteorology: another way of negotiating monumentality and vulnerability.

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Adrien Vescovi by François Piron
Réseau documents d’artistes, december 2019

Known as the main protagonist within the plant kingdom, chlorophyll absorbs the red and blue components from sunlight, which it transforms into vital energy. It is for that matter, and in a magical sort of way, the only structure that can transform the plain encounter of cyan and magenta into a brilliant mint green. This natural element is one of the main ingredients in Adrien Vescovi’s mixtures, infusions, and other painting mixes. Through a process akin to dye, he develops a substance’s active principle by boiling a liquid and progressively tinting the canvases. His fabric is structure-free, the frames disappear only to reappear in another form: at times as improvised seating for the viewers, a Jansenestic bed base, or a colored-pigment mixing tablet. Disrupting the frame itself, he removes the painting from the roughly comfortable minimal surfaces onto which we are invited to contemplate, observe, or appreciate a desalinated landscape.

In the same way colors in tubes cause a revolution among artists linked to Impression, soleil levant, Adrien Vescovi deconstructs the painting medium and surface with every migration of his studio, switching from a more simple and common vertical apprehension, to a new horizontally engineered one.

Indeed this shift not only concerns the painting’s subject but also the place in which the painting appears. It is with this mindset that he builds each one of his permeable studios, capable of adapting to a valley, to a garden or a street, a city, a suburb, in the daytime or at night. Though a long way from the boats in Argenteuil, from the majestic cathedrals, or joys one can experience visiting the Norman countryside, there still remains a common interest in faithfully reproducing a light that conjures an impressionist meteorology.

In fact, these perceptible climatic changes compose the essence of his painting, whether it is temporarily installed on a roof in the passage des Cloys, at a ski resort near the Swiss border, or in the middle of the street, during his residency at the gallery in Noisy le Sec. Adrien Vescovi’s paintings are windows exposed to the sky’s fluctuations, balancing between crepuscular and diurnal rays, on which ultraviolet and infrared impressions naturally predominate. They are later associated and assembled together. These epitomes of constant nomadism appear to us as scenes of light, brightly colorful or tie and dye constructions, they are transported, hanged, and sometimes abandoned. Their more recent form echoes a suspension or hammock: a temporary resting place that symbolizes leisure but also an invitation to take a nap, out of sight. This makeshift bed offers isolation without extracting the sleeper from the exhibition and its context. What more splendid feeling than to be literally cradled by a painting?

This hanging sleeping bag evokes the panoramas and other pictorial renditions of endless color ranges or a certain garden in Giverny – the truly noteworthy element of Monet’s home in the Parisian suburbs. And yet, this ephemeral vessel could also be the fruit of a sort of islander seclusion, motivated by the pleasures of solitude, by the life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe, the sailor who spent 28 years on an un-inhabited island on the coast of America.

Arlène Berceliot Courtin, May 2016

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The forest beyond reason by Arlène Berceliot Courtin
Les ateliers d’artistes de la Ville de Marseille, May 2016

Adrien Vescovi is a French artist based between Paris and Les Gets, in the Haute-Savoie department. For years now he has been developing a practice at the crossroads between painting and artisanal textile work, often in the form of monumental pieces that question the traditional painting format but also our relationship to landscape and abstraction. His installation for the Casa de Francia gallery is in two parts: five large format “paintings”, whose canvases are transformed by the sun, rain, and infusions made from plants found around his studio in Savoie, share the space with an in situ installation soaking in the pools facing the gallery, in which pieces of fabric are immersed in a juice of local plants and pigments for the duration of the exhibition. Once the exhibition is over, they will be sent back to France and become elements for future art works, laden with the Mexican climate and landscapes.

Interview between Adrien Vescovi and Dorothée Dupuis, Mexico City, September 16, 2016

You graduated from the Beaux-Arts in Annecy in 2006. We met when I was at the head of the residency program at Triangle France in Marseille in 2010. At that time, you were still doing a lot of video, performance, installation, and drawing. Painting didn’t yet play an important role in your work. Would you agree there was a turning point in your work and when would you say that it occurred?

Everything went very quickly once I started working with fabric. But really, these considerations had always been there, they just became more established and progressively defined. For instance, some of the things that I make today are manipulations I had experimented with as a student: I projected objects onto canvases, their shapes were abstract and I would paint them in black and white – I’ve always had these questions of light and abstraction in mind. When we met at Triangle, I was working on the “Aires de Jeu” drawings (Vanishing Point, 2010). What first started as a well-defined, functionalist drawing then drifted into something completely different. Painting was something I always contemplated, even if I’d put it aside. In 2012 I walked past a storefront that was under construction and hidden by a giant piece of fabric that was gradually covered with dust, dirt, and graffiti… the first textile works stemmed from that.

I find it exciting that you seem to have found a work protocol – you call it a “form” – with which you are comfortable and able to produce fluently: I feel that is something essential in any meaningful artistic practice, no matter the medium or subject. By focusing your practice around certain specific issues – you call them “painting questions” – of color, composition, format, craft, you place it both within a Western art history and in  discussions of painting. Daniel Dewar uses the word “post-minimal” to define practices that attempt to question – and transcend – the relationship between an art work and its production, posited by 60s and 70s minimalism. Minimalism extended its experimentations from the pictorial space to a three dimensional space, by introducing a modern approach to objects in relation to their means of production and indirectly exposing social issues linked to these production methods: especially the relationship between art and craft, craftsmanship. How does your practice associate with these questions?

I’m a very formal person: form is what allows a discourse per se, to develop. This is an interesting aspect of Reto Pulfer’s work for example. Without the process, there is no work, and ultimately there’s often nothing left but traces. At first I worked with raw material. Then one day, I left two big canvases outside my studio (in Paris at the time) and they slowly became discolored, leaving a natural pattern behind. After a series of works created in Paris (Through, Twin Bubble Gum, Grey Memory, 2013/14) I decided to set my studio up in my grandfather’s old woodworking shop in the Alps because the rays of light there are stronger, which accelerates the work process. My second work session there was during the fall, the trees had turned yellow, red, orange – it was beautiful and I hadn’t experienced fall in the mountains for a while. So that’s when I started the decoctions: it came from a simple desire of making a “juice” from this landscape. Until now it’s only ever produced a pretty common brown: it’s more of a conceptual gesture, an idea, even if I try to come up with new colors. I’m currently researching natural colors that are produced elsewhere – I’m planning to go to India soon – where the minerals offer different opportunities, particularly in relation with desert landscapes that are of course a reference in 60s and 70s American art, which you mentioned earlier.

You commented on mysticism earlier: you seem to think there is an absolute and spiritual dimension in art and painting. If one were to consider that many of today’s practices  attempt to recreate typical gestures from Western modern art and appeal to painting as a symbol of a pre-state of representation, something primitive, opposable to artistic movements like relational practices or to new technologies, like the Post-Internet movement – though they do it in a very citational way – it almost seems like a heroic quest, and yet very conservative and nostalgic. Your work makes me think of the Myth of Sisyphus, in the sense that it allows you to detach yourself through a certain poetry – though we should be careful with poetry’s catch-all concept – and many of your actions are useless in a plastic sense, they are invisible to the eye.

I tell myself that every time! I’m in the studio, repeating these gestures that take hours without really knowing what shapes will come out of them, what colors. I like that haziness, though I’m getting better at managing the processes, at knowing when something will come out of them or not. Ironically, there’s a specific way to get unexpected results, you go through repetition, displacements, shifts. These are important notions that Deleuze spoke about in “Différence et répétition.”

It’s like Rosalind Krauss’ essay on the grid, except my surface is the studio’s facade, and my system is irregular. I don’t want to give “identifiable” signs or tell stories. I work by  deconstructing patterns.

Is technique important to you?

I don’t know. There has to be a bit of control. I try to apply myself. I’m very methodical, I need the space to be well thought out. Every day when I come in, I organize my work space, it’s a way of focusing, entering a sort of meditative state, like a trance.

But really the meditation comes when I’m sewing: when I’m sewing 7 meters of fabric together, the sound of the machine becomes hypnotic . I have a hard time concentrating, probably because of a snowboarding accident I had when I was 23 and still a student in art school: I was in a coma for 24 hours. I did some research on memory disorders and realized that a ton of people had them, that they are also a consequence of modern life and my work allows me to address that, through questions of traces, of material that are loaded and unloaded with information which we ultimately don’t see. I repeat absurdly rigorous gestures as a means of not losing track.

You mention the way a serious accident that you experienced personally has instilled your artistic practice which is both formal and abstract. In that same sense, it’s interesting to see how contemporary art works linked to modernism are very attentive to 60s and 70s “Identity Politics” in conceptual art, which traditionally attempted to liberate itself from issues of medium.

To a certain extent, painting is a personal reflection: it’s a surface, there’s a connection to the mirror. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I really think making art is an attempt to define oneself. In my case, I think it’s more of a way of experiencing objects, that occurs in the studio in a very practical manner. I also try to interact with situations, buildings, interior spaces: I have an eye for design and objects, it’s a fondness I got from my parents who work in the distribution of industrial design. Ironically enough, when it comes to functionality, I try to find something physically spectacular in simple and humble gestures and material. I can sometimes handle over 100 meters of fabric for one work, like I did recently with a curtain that I used to block the access to the Villa in the park in Annemasse (Chunking, 2016). This specific work really reveals that monumental quality, the intense gestures, the relevance of format. In Rezé, I had to work with an imposing structure built by Massimiliano Fuksas in the 90s, made of black metal beams, with slanted walls, so my proposition was to go the opposite direction: hang the paintings directly onto the building (Amnesia, 2015, Tripode, Nantes), in a very light and simple action. The installation process is the moment I have to make decisions, whereas the first part, working on the textiles, is filled with doubt since I never know how the colors will come out. It’s my own way of taming the unpredictable.

TURN OFF THE LIGHTS

Curator: Dorothée Dupuis

Galerie de la Casa de Francia, IFAL Mexico

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Interview with Dorothée Dupuis, Mexico City, September 16th 2016

Hi Adrien,

I’m writing from my bed. I like writing at night, with my computer on my knees, it’s so different from when I’m at my desk during the day, always available, reachable, always prepared to divide my time and continually open new windows on my computer screen. But most of all, I don’t have wifi in bed, so no other resources, no distractions… And I’m pretty tired, like after a busy day. So as I write in this state, I feel the need to extend and focus on one simple thing, for a while, vaguely. It’s probably a good state for writing about, as if it were since, those hammocks you made for the art book fair in Copenhagen, where Theophile’s Papers’ commissioned furniture to present its books on.

I know I’m not the only one who has fond memories of hammocks, books, and gardens: the shadows, heat, summertime, naps, swaying, flipping through pages, not really reading, a happy seclusion, hanging above the ground… I imagine that reading in a hammock, in an art book festival where the sources of information are far too rich for anyone’s attention span, must be quite a different feeling. Maybe offering flexible structures to settle in is also an invitation to accept not to see everything, nor read everything, maybe to the point of turning this subjectivity into a privilege, a welcoming retreat, where one can hide in the very midst of a dense and bustling situation. These long strips of fabric, sewn together with bulky seams, hanging from each end, stand in for the robust furniture that is more adapted and functional for showing books, as the surface of a table, a chair, a shelf twist into the folds of these enveloping and supple forms. A book is also a bound object, its content concealed by its cover or successive pages. Seen from my bed, and probably also seen from a hammock, a book and hammock seem very similar with their folded structures, their plays of showing and hiding, and this closeness makes these two shapes inviting to one another.

Actually, this relaxed state that I am in and am imagining started long before the convergence of a bed, a computer, and a room or a hammock, a book, and a festival. Firstly, it’s the way you relaxed the material itself, because the hammock’s fabric is actually loosened canvas: both untightened and released. It has escaped the frame onto which it was meant to be stretched. The fabric has shifted from the project of a painting to the object of the physical experience of a creased painting, from a flat supporting structure to a tangle of material hanging from two ends. It is a painting that ultimately refuses to be seen entirely, whether it be up close or far away, because it can undo the eye’s distance by wrapping or hiding its beholder. You made these canvases at the residency in Noisy-le-Sec, in the art center where I work mostly during the day. This is where you sewed the different strips of pastel pink, yellow, and blue. The picture you took of the towers surrounding the residency, right before dusk, echoed your vertical composition and its colors. And then, immersed in a decoction only you know how to make, with leaves that you picked from a flowerbed, it suddenly took on a very local dimension. Your trip to Copenhagen transformed this project, allowed it to become functional: from horizontal compositions, the canvases creased, freed from any supporting structure, to become simple  and welcoming objects, shapes at rest.

Good night, and see you tomorrow,

Emilie

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Émilie Renard, 2016