New work by Jean-Luc Moulène is on view at Galerie Chantal Crousel this month, as the French artist explores a unique body of new works created between 2012 and 2016, the last time the artist exhibited his work publicly. His fifth exhibition with the gallery, Moulène’s work sees the artist continuing his studied approach to the sculptural form, and history of the field in conjunction with various objects and contexts.
Throughout the gallery, a selection of 16 sculptural objects are arranged on tables, including plastic and natural figures, collected objects and constructed forms that draw on a wide range of modern art practice in conjunction with vague signifiers of the world outside the gallery. The pieces, generally diminutive in scale, were all produced in the artist’s studio, although the actual labor performed on each object has been kept to a minimum. They are “objects of concept and movement,” according the exhibition texts, assembled and adjusted based on pre-existing models and situations, allowing the artist agency to act on pre-existing structures to bring them into formal communication with each other. The result is a sense of internal logic stemming from a previously random collection of material.
The conflict of space and representation, of the interior and exterior, is a recurrent theme contained and expressed in this collection. ConquOs, for instance, is an amalgamation of bone and shell, appearing as an elegantly interlocked dance of elements. The work’s interior and exterior spaces alternate in value and visibility, suggesting the intimacies of opposition and interaction. This remodeling of natural forms also reappears in Inverse- reverse, a tree branch cut at each bifurcation then flipped and reassembled. It has been colored red and blue in alternating layers, resembling the illustrations of the human body’s circulatory system. The tree’s anatomical qualities are exposed to evoke life and dismemberment through the act of cutting open, revealing and reversing the natural oppositions of form.
The body has great importance in much of Moulène’s work. In Tête couronnée (Crowned Head) the artist has encrusted five of his own teeth into a found wooden knot, continuing his practice treating the body as “the stake of representation,” exploring it as a site for the convergence or conflict of the material and the social. This exhibition also includes a group of still and moving images, watercolor drawings and two short videos that emphasize the exhibition’s own internal structure. The range of the show centers on the collection and organization of previously unrelated objects, which coalesce into a body of their own.
Ce fut une belle journée brings varied material into close conversation, revealing how, through the masterful intervention of the artist, disparate inanimate articles can form a constellation of impressive aesthetic logic, often functioning as a body of sorts. In Moulène’s own words, “Working on the material also allows for the emergence of an inarticulate language that guides your decisions.” The artist’s work is on view through February 11th.
Jean-Luc Moulène, Ce fut une belle journée (Installation View)
— A. Corrigan
Exhibition Page [Galerie Chantal Crousel]