Les quatre saisons

A solo show by Pierre Ardouvin
January 16 – February 20, 2010.

In 2006, during ArtBasel, the art market Mekka, Pierre Ardouvin had furbished Chez Valentin gallery’s exhibition booth with the tiers of a traditional theatre, so that the Fair alley became a stage and the visitors (« Au théâtre ce soir ») its performers : a spectacular inversion of what actually creates a show. Nominated for the Marcel Duchamp prize in 2007, he staged a huge revolving board up on a pedestal, with « Marcel » in golden letters in relief, heavily highlighted, with a Dalida song in the background: a mixture of playful double entendre and assessment of vacuity.

Today, for his exhibition at Galerie Chez Valentin, «Les quatre saisons» echoes other sirens, but uses the vanity artefacts as well. Starting with the makeshift Vivaldi pieces that surround us, played so many times, repeatedly recycled in lifts, answering machines, airports…in all the waiting spaces, in the betweens created by our modern world where silence would become disturbing and vacuity obscene. So, something is provided, a token of good intentions. The music is broadcast from a revolving stage where old worn out couches replace the wooden horses of childhood’s merry-go-rounds. Merry-go-round or single machine offering itself as its own show in an inversion similar to the Basel gimmick. Hanging from a peg on the wall, a death costume with its livid mask and ghostly shape. End of the game, the costumes are put away in cupboards, only the mechanism of the show remains turning endlessly like an old record player when the piece is finished.

Just a few pale spotlights lights up the wintry scene the characters have deserted replaced by the wandering spectators. In the background, first a synthetic landscape, « Soleil d’hiver »: a grey coloured door against a wall equipped with an electric contraption producing a flat light like a weird sunrise over a grey field in a frosted lightless morning mist. Elsewhere, in the cosmography of an office setting, a small cork notice board scattered with shiny piercings. No more messages, just stardust. Fake glitter, not up to the postcard shine of the « Quatre saisons », patchwork of four seasonal landscapes smattered with red paint, to bring us back to cliché reality. But it’s merely a world of absence which can only find some weight and density through a series of watercolor collages where imagination plays substitute for obsolete postcard images.

Sandra Cattini