28/02/2008 > 19/04/2008
Opening on 28/02/2008, from 7 pm to 9 pm
The sculptures of WILFRID ALMENDRA (born in 1972, lives and works in Cholet, France) are elaborate constructions whose artisanal and eccentric approach reroutes their post-pop aesthetic. For Cuts Across the Land, his first personal exhibition in a gallery, the artist presents a group of new sculptures that suggest a mental landscape populated by unusual hybrids of pop culture imagery and natural motifs. Barricaded by their singularity, these creations resist description, or rather render any description necessarily subjective. Like three-dimensional Rorschach blots, describing them inevitably involves interpretation.
To compose his sculptures, WILFRID ALMENDRA draws from a bank of images and elements, partly skimmed off the internet, which he assembles and intermixes. Using a vast array of materials and techniques, the majority of which come from outside the realm of artistic practices, he seeks to ply these varied materials with a process close to performance, where intuition plays a primary role. Each new piece is the occasion to invent an adventure, through empirical experiments with new techniques and even through the physical risks entailed both by himself and by the work.
5.1, an imposing mobile suspended at the center of the space, comes from the improbable intersection of rectangular loudspeakers – evoking anything from a shopping center to a stadium to a jail yard -, truck horns or morning glories, sublimated into a piece of chrome jewellery, like an oversized brooch or earring. Five blossoms deck an aluminium axis with a lead ballast, twisted like a flower's stem or like the frame of a customized car; initially crafted from wood, they have been covered with multiple coats of shellac whose red-to-orange scheme evokes a sunset, in contrast to the severity of the metal stem. The whole seems like an object at once artisanal and high tech, a duality suggested by the work's title, which references a home cinema system. Recalling the legacy of kinetic sculpture when stirred by the passing movement of spectators, its hypnotic and psychotropic effect is redoubled by a mural painting in the background, reflecting off of its metal structure.
Covering the back wall like an abstract landscape for WILFRID ALMENDRA's chimeras, this fresco draws its graphic motif – horizontal lines graduated from black to grey – from racing stripes and its title, Superman, from the daring motorcycle trick in which the rider literally flies behind his bike.
Near to this mural, like the animal to 5.1's vegetable, Flamboyant is a hybrid of a seahorse and a hummingbird transposed onto an imposing, muscular and sensual mass of wood. Its base is covered by aluminium plates and its crown is topped with a lamé mane. The addition of a pair of diminutive wings undermines Flamboyant's monumental presence.
Facing Flamboyant, the three works of She's Electric – undulating ceramic forms covered in shimmering car paint and capped with Teflon horns – seem to inch over felt mats striped with electric green, like glittering saxophones or snails tricked-out by a car customizer that deliver both an apology to speed and elegy to slowness.
Youga, a vaguely anthropomorphic sculpture in galvanized steel and camouflage fiberglass, rounds off this series of dream-like forms.
Finally, in the second room, Cuts Across the Land is a 360° portrait of the artist rendered through successive traces of the artist's profile for each degree of rotation. This self-portrait suggests itself as a metaphor for the exhibition and the artist's work: an initially abstract snarl of lines that gradually reveals its logic and, in the distance between a rigorous base principal and the inevitable approximation that happens during production, its subjectivity.