The idea is simple: if you objectify floating mental images, they no longer float, they become legible. My work has often been about that : giving concrete existence to mental images – Jean-Luc Moulène
Larvae and Ghosts is an exhibition of new work by seminal French artist Jean-Luc Moulène. His fourth solo presentation at the gallery, the show is comprised of floor, table and wall-based work. Moulène’s approach is one of perpetual interrogation. Attempts to classify his work inevitably lead to an impasse – his method of object and image-making constituting a clear rejection of the cannons and typologies of sculpture, photography and drawing.
Essentially a pragmatist, Moulène sees his objects and images as ‘tools’ to reveal social or natural phenomena, and his working method constitutes a series of ‘protocols’ or rules for making. His primary concern is the relationship between the object and the image, which are negotiated via propositions around the body – ‘pre-born’ or ‘already-dead’, human and animal, whole and in fragments, declined, allegorical, carnal, grotesque, or clinically exact… This preoccupation with the body may result from Moulène’s work with French performance artist, Michel Journiac, during the late seventies.
The larger works in the exhibition are the first iterations of Moulène’s ‘Coupes’ or ‘Cuts’ which extend the approach of his celebrated ‘Usures’ or ‘Erosions’ – seen in A Slip of the Tongue at the Punta de la Dogana Venice in 2015. Severing generic English garden sculptures from their context and breaching the surface of one figure with the substance of the next, Moulène collapses all narrative, allegorical and material distinctions. The skulls of a donkey and pig – each embedded in a concrete shell of itself and then severed in half – are presented as re-imagined bivalves.
In contrast to the sobriety of concrete and stone, intense colour is conjugated via several further cumulative objects. Les ‘Voyelles’ – the decoding of a poem by the French symbolist Rimbaud – is a lateral aggregation of incongruous found plastic objects, while ‘Fairy Fantasy’, a deliriously grotesque corpus of porcine, polyhedral and extruded shapes, nears the limits of intelligibility.
A group of ink drawings and watercolours, the latter a new medium for Moulène, render still more complex the syntax of the exhibition.
Jean-Luc Moulène: Larvae and Ghosts
Exhibition Dates: April 15 – May 28, 2016
Thomas Dane Gallery
3 & 11 Duke Street St James’s
London SW1Y 6BN