Thomas Lévy-Lasne — L’asphyxie

Exhibition

Drawing, painting

Thomas Lévy-Lasne
L’asphyxie

Ends in 5 days: September 3 → October 24, 2020

Les filles du calvaire is thrilled to announce Thomas Lévy-Lasne’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. A former resident of the Villa Medici (Rome), he presents an original collection of paintings and drawings. Patiently — at the speed that painting imposes — the artist makes visible, the cultural habits, if not the disaster, of humankind in its relationship with its environment. Collecting visual evidence of this mutation and the anthropisation of the world, Lévy-Lasne reports a renunciation of the idea of wilderness in favour of the modern project of artificialisation and technological utopia.

———

“My painting revolves around a calm aestheticisation of reality: a spectacle on a human scale, a confident materialism, a smiling literalism, an attention to the tragedy of existence in tension with an appetite for painting and a joy in rendering the daily treasure that is the world of appearances.

However, my realism has stumbled on an aporia during the past few years: I have the unpleasant impression that I fit within a time long threatened by the urgency of our vulnerability. The continuity of our lifestyles in satisfactory conditions seems to me to be a major collective challenge.

It then remains to find ways to integrate this vertigo: the Asphyxiation exhibition at the galerie Les filles du calvaire is a first attempt. As our sensibility is already blunted by the flood of information carried along by the Anthropocene era, we do not believe in what we know. Perhaps it is the role of art to bring the question to life rather than to state it.

I’ve looked for what a contemporary landscape painting could be: a tragic landscape. A landscape that questions the spectator’s heedlessness when it is this passivity that will be the cause of his loss by the landscape itself. A dis-anthropocentric landscape that human agitation leaves indifferent, without any hierarchy of representation, a landscape as banal as the evil it contains.

Devant%20l'abre,2020%20copie 1 medium
Thomas Lévy-Lasne, Devant l’arbre, 2020 Oil On canvas — 150 × 120 cm Courtesy Galerie Les filles du calvaire

I started from a thorough survey of disaster sites such as the Chernobyl power station, its red forest, its ghost town, and the entrance to the Auschwitz–Birkenau concentration camp and the serenity of its weeping willow tree. I also present the plastic strata of the Normandy dunes, the standardisation of Picardy landscapes by the food-processing industry, the suspicious beauty of the sunsets of polluted outlying areas, the explanation that out-of-touch tourists require in front of a tree. Finally, two paintings depict the reconstructed jungle or marine gulf biotopes visible at the Biodome of Montreal, a museum that claims to be “alive”, but which seemed to me to be a science fiction vision of a totally artificial world.

My choice to use charcoal, that is to say burnt pieces of wood, for the immersive 3 by 4 metre drawing, Le Bosco of the Villa Medici is not insignificant. It is certainly the representation of a shimmering and immemorial place, but it is nevertheless doomed to a rapid disappearance; the trees are ill and fall due to the violence of new Roman winds. I also present a variety of charcoals on paper around the theme of the spectacle: cinema, concert, theatre. The reserve of white paper and the light is staged by more or less dense layers of black. In them, we find the archaic and simple subject of gathering together in groups around a luminous focus.

In these times of sanitary barriers, these banal scenes are already veiled with a nostalgia that leaves me, like almost everyone else, caught unawares." — Thomas Lévy-Lasne