51 rue des Archives, 75003 Paris
March 9, April 20, 2024

Dominique Figarella’s sixth exhibition at galerie Anne Barrault is entitled « On n’y voit rien » [you can’t see anything]. The title slams home and it is us, yes us who are being challenged. It is like a kind of warning to the viewer: do not enter unless you are ready to get lost, body and soul, in the depths of huge paintings. Indeed you will really have to immerse yourself in each of them. Get closer, step back, and start again. Faster, less far, slantwise, sideways. In brief: your turn to enter the dance. And this, in order to bring our senses back into play in the act of perception, all our senses, without exclusion, and not only the noblest ones –retina and neurons. A pure pleasure of painting appears and unleashes our media prosthesis: “Generation Thumbelina generation (1)” is slowly waking up.

Three decades in the making, the artist has chosen his side: presentation takes precedence over representation, and the anthropological impact of painting prevails over the scholarly history of the medium. Failing to put his finger on it, the artist himself, a stoic at heart, is incredulous (2).  Doesn’t he sum up his endless quest as follows: “Art helps us to try and see together what is in front of us”. So here are five paintings. The colors are vivid: purple, magenta, bright red, dark blue and a hint of green. As to the shapes, they are brilliant, refusing to choose between molecular scale and planetary boundaries. To be more precise, they are sketches of possibilities, born from an ordinary choreography.

Dominique Figarella’s process always starts with a gesture: he begins randomly, moving his arms and legs in every possible configurations. He will then rework the traces left on the canvas. The artist is going to rewrite, for months, these large eruptive jets made in a fraction of a second, with small geometrical shapes made with crayon. In order “to literalize the movements” as he says, a way to to free himself from solipsistic expression.  In fact, any human who lingers through the exhibition has already become a part of a quest: we already seek to decipher together, dreaming as one. As we leave, we may also come away with a new idea of painting as a “participatory culture”(3).

Ingrid Luquet-Gad

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