An exhibition of Eric Baudart
January 8th - February 19th 2011

The Galerie chez Valentin is proud to present the third exhibition of young artist, Eric Baudart, winner of the 2010-11 French contemporary art prize, le Prix Meurice. His work, which is situated between naturalism and artifice, is the product of materialist equations employing powerful visual forms, which defy the basic rudiments of what we assume to be real. At the centre of his practice Baudart’s interest is in the process behind the fabrication and the emergence of his ‘substance-images’. In these paradoxical territories the organic merges with the virtual, and matter itself seems as much characterized by its spasms and jolts as by its minimalist placidity. Baudart’s universe initially presents itself as the product of measurements and equivalences, which project a semblance of quantifiable logic to the viewer. On closer study however his works are found to consist of blurry outlines, holes and structural gaps, which renders the possibility of deciphering uncertain. This is perhaps because the artist’s material has been persistently manipulated creating a strangely magnetic emanating effect, embodied by the immaterial turbulences rather than the cold equations of the rational. Thus, Eric Baudart’s work presents the viewer with the meeting place of unknown territories whose precious and sophisticated allure is counterbalanced by the spectacular if not hallucinatory effects that they emit. Baudart often seems to render the familiar potentially indistinguishable. Brought back to its purest material state, the object, despite being clearly implied, has become impractical, its purpose dissolute; it exists in contradiction to its own substance. Fascinated by the transitions between states of matter and potential of each stage of development in terms of form, Eric Baudart manipulates the material he uses meticulously, modeling it and reworking it with precision, playing with the effect of textures and saturation until he has created a hypnotic object which demands our full attention.

Much like an alchemist, Baudart seems to instill an almost magnetic force in his work, especially in the Crystal series that he started in 2008. These resin sculptures (the artist’s chosen material) result from a chemical process in which the resin occurs as an accidental residue. Marked by the imprint of time that the artist deliberately seeks to preserve, their precious fragility contrasts with the material’s movement, which seems to be frozen at the point of convulsion. Often the artist lets his material take its form independently: he witnesses the transition that the work undergoes without necessarily imposing his will on it. Often, the viewer’s gaze is arrested by these images which seem almost devoid of the real and are no longer accessible by an intellectual or systematic approach but lend themselves exclusively to a sensitive reading, which is more unstable because it is not codified. With Baudart, transparency is not simply an illusion: this surface effect is a tool that the artist employs to question the viewer using artificial filters, which in turn destabilize our perception. Baudart’s works are therefore to be perceived as dynamic objects which oscillate between relief and flatness, transparency and opacity, the soft and the hard, organic and chemical. They give witness to the complexity and fragility of appearance and reveal the porous boundaries between reality and the virtual. It is here, in the interstices of such boundaries, that these works invite the imagination and its projective capacity to infiltrate.

Clara Guislain (translated by Eliza George)