Mécanique populaire

An exhibition of Renaud Jerez and David Douard
June - July 2011

At Galerie chez Valentin’s request, young French artist Renaud Jerez has chosen a range of his recent works to be presented in tandem with a selection of pieces by his contemporary, David Douard. The “Mécanique Populaire” is the third such collaboration between the two artists. Despite their individual evolution, their respective universes remain intimately linked. Their long-term friendship has created a common ground upon which their imaginary has developed and their cultural and historical references have been nourished. Naturally, through formal and conceptual affinities, their intertwined expressions have together constructed a language that is in continual renewal.

The works presented by Renaud Jerez and David Douard, which take root from a collective mental geography, create objects of doubt, cultivating ruptures and multiple references attracting the viewer through meandering trajectories of meaning. Drawing its source from the latency of the real, their practice rises from a mental intuitive meshwork that naturally embodies hybrid creations, playing with the codes of presentation, painting, sculpture, collage and video. Compiled from a profusion of materials, objects, fragments of readymade items, texts, images, advertisements and organic matter, the work span a vast spectrum between the culture of the trivial and of art history constructing a multi-faceted language which accesses the real through its numerous levels of representation. Their radical artistic gesture, which harbours no complex in relation to the codes and the references that it often manipulates with an ironic and humorous irreverence, can be likened to a form of appropriation, extraction or to the act of possessing the real as if it were a reservoir of raw materials. Refusing the comfort of assigning set meaning, the work avoids the complexity of theorical foundations preferring the intuitive “mechanics” which both cultivate and evoke the notion of doubt. This apparent simplicity spontaneously draws from the organs of the most ordinary of realities and in doing so asserts its relationship with Fluxus. Thus we find that Douard and Jerez’s work is anchored upon the nature of its assemblage, its composition of abstract parts repelling a sense of perfect harmony, preferring the relief of its own conflicting form. Proceeding by accumulation and convergence, or inversely from extraction and simplification, the work presents itself as a pure construction of which the template, the works principal organisation, remains partially veiled, secretive and almost completely obscured. Favouring silences and playing with ellipses and detours, the image is not to be immediately perceived, provoking the spectator’s wandering and disorienting experience. If the spectator attempts to decode the mental trajectory of the artists to reveal the ‘hidden meaning’ of their work, he will find that the piece is built upon a variable geometry, a grid of signs, which can be liberally accessed. Malleable, the work’s accessibility reflects the artists interest in the ‘liquid states’ of thought, the flux and passage of meaning, which bring together realities that we imagined incompatible. It is therefore this bond of resistance that creates a link between the elements (those which we use to arrange our visible world) that the artists wish to question. In order to deconstruct the inflexible appearance of the real, and to render this poetic arrangement legible, the work requires the spectator’s gaze to be extremely supple.

Clara Guislain (translated by Eliza George)