Xavier Theunis — Tout ça ne nous rendra pas le Congo


Collage, drawing, installation, lithography / engraving

Xavier Theunis
Tout ça ne nous rendra pas le Congo

Past: March 16 → April 27, 2013

Backslash is delighted to welcome a first exhibition of work by Xavier Theunis, whose protean approach to the question of representation embraces a wide range of mediums. This preoccupation, which has from the outset been the focus of his work, is here addressed head-on though a series of simulacra, mises en abîme and a number of further reinterpretations.

Tout ça ne nous rendra pas le Congo (None of this will win us back the Congo) takes a fatalistic approach tinged with humor to indirectly conjure up the detached stance that characterizes the artist. An amused allusion to his Belgian roots, the exhibition’s title serves to create an immediate contrast with the formal rigour of the work. A typical expression whose hidden meaning could be said to correspond to the stoical standpoint it would be wiser to adopt in view of the vanity of all things, it is here used as a guide within a work that continually replicates itself, always appreciably different and, ultimately, always the same.

The different works lining the gallery all hinge on the construction of images, yet all take a separate path, each one subject to its own laws and using analogies to evoke the memory of Art in all the wondrous diversity its history offers. From constructivism to minimalism, architecture to design and cartoons, these eras and spheres all serve as sources of research that are revisited, altered and reappropriated. These are the elements that, wrought with a sort of nonchalance, provide a clever contrast with Xavier Theunis’s formal scrupulousness and, as art critic Laurent Boudier puts it, allow the works to evoke “decorative obsession and architectural drawings while keeping them at a great distance by means of humor and a sort of artistic placidity.”

This slight shift is heightened by the empirical way that materials are reordered from one room to the next, switching from plan to volume, emptiness to solidity. Ceaselessly recycled, the off cuts from one composition become the subject of the next. This process produces forms that, although they sometimes disconcert the viewer, can also seem familiar — while wholly retaining their enigmatic nature.

A graduate of Villa Arson in Nice, Xavier Theunis is also represented by the Catherine Issert gallery in Saint Paul de Vence (South France). His work has been shown in a wide range of exhibitions, including at the Mamac in Nice.

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The artist