Jean-Michel Othoniel — Les Nœuds de Babel


Installation, sculpture

Jean-Michel Othoniel
Les Nœuds de Babel

Past: January 12 → February 23, 2013

“Les Nœuds de Babel” is Jean-Michel Othoniel’s fifth solo exhibition at Galerie Perrotin.

For this exhibition, Jean-Michel Othoniel presents four new monumental sculptures and watercolour sketches inspired by Brancusi as well as the colours and forms of Italian Mannerism to the Baroque, developping “the question of the lost body. It’s a matter of creating a volume of absence, constructions with variable dimensions where bodies could nest… There is the idea that there is a body at the center… This refers to the idea of the haloes and aureoles of my earlier sculptures. In my last sculptures, there is something like a body at the center and a knot around; the knot organises itself around an axis and defines a void”. These artworks materialized the psychoanalytic theory of the Borromean rings that structures a subject with a fragile equilibrium between Reality, Symbolic and Imaginary but seem to have been distorted here by an invisible dynamic, capturing the abstract essence of the movement.

Echoed by five mural pieces made of glassbricks, Precious Stonewall, refers to minimal art by metonymy of the eponymous monumental work shown recently during the retrospective “My Way” at the Centre Pompidou and the Brooklyn Museum. These were produced in India at Firozabad and suggest at the same time the visible pile of bricks on the Indian roads and the numerous altars covered with gifts, jewelry and flower necklaces… They also refer to the Stonewall riots of 1969 in Greenwich Village that led to the birth of the Gay Rights Movement. The silence emanating from these works renders them eloquent pieces. The ambiguity of the artist’s works also lays in the equivocal nature of the glass, sacred, refracting a divine light, as stained-glass would in a church, or a secular one, symbolizing the transparency of desire when it becomes a mirror.

The retrospective “My Way” has led to the rediscovery of the artist’s protean work: performances, films, paintings, drawings, glass sculptures, sulfur, wax etc. It has travelled around the world, in 2011 at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, at the Plateau/Leeum Samsung Museum, Seoul; in 2012 at the Hara Museum, Tokyo, at the Macau Museum of Art, Macau and at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. This tour gave rise to a number of prestigious commissioned works: “Le Nœud de Janus” and “Kokoro” for the sculpture park of the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul; “Kin No Kokoro” monumental piece commissioned by the Mori Art Museum of Tokyo for Roppongi Hills…

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The artist

  • Jean-Michel Othoniel