02 n°91 sep/oct/nov 2019
02 n°91 sep/oct/nov 2019
  • Prix facial : gratuit

  • Parution : n°91 de sep/oct/nov 2019

  • Périodicité : trimestriel

  • Editeur : Association Zoo galerie

  • Format : (210 x 297) mm

  • Nombre de pages : 92

  • Taille du fichier PDF : 9,6 Mo

  • Dans ce numéro : les frères Quistrebert.

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2 Guest Bernard Frize 4 Bernard Frize, ST78 n°2, 1978. Laque alkyde-uréthane sur toile/urethan alkyd lacquer on canvas, 35 × 27 cm. Collection particulière/Private collection. Photo Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Philippe Migeat/Dist. RMN-GP/Bernard Frize/Adagp, Paris 2019. 1 Bernard Frize, « Quoi, Pourquoi, Quand, Comment, Où et Qui », in exh. cat. Bernard Frize. Sans repentir, Dilecta/Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2019, p.189. Initially published in 2010 in the exh. cat. And How and Where and Who (Morsbroich Museum, Leverkusen), Ostfildern, Hatje Cantz. 2 Bernard Frize, in Sans repentir, op. cit. note 1, p.96. 3 David Barrett, in his review of the exhibition at the Frith Street Gallery, London, in Frieze n°26, 1996. of the result. The forms are those of colour distribution, and the conception of all its effects (consequences) is that of the conception of the image. I don’t even know if there is an image. There’s the recording of an event and an indexation of its rules  : which is a picture. » 1 Some pictures, by way of their titles, are, incidentally an allusion to this idea, such as Standard and Poor’s, namedafter the financial rating agency which in particular publishes the index of the main share prices on the New York Stock Exchange. As an additional irony, the picture dates from the year of the great stock market crash of 1987. But here, needless to say, the picture is just the clue to itself, indifferent to the abstractups and downs of the stock market. For Frize, the process, and the fact that it is left for all to see in the finished picture, is not an end in itself, but a way of highlighting « the order and materiality of which perceptible experiences are made. » It is possible to detect in these preoccupations a connection with a whole swathe of 1960s’art. But if we were to compare the processes that Frize imposesupon himself, involving the Sol LeWitt method, for example—the idea as a « machine that makes art » —, the great difference would be that the result is neither foreseen, nor foreseeable. If the idea (or the procedure) is a machine, it is, in his case, dysfunctional. Frize says he does not know anything about the aesthetic result—this is what he says, but it is also what we can see. Some paintings look like flops, or common-or-garden works. What he is looking for, through self-imposed rules, is a sort of indifference to what comes about, but not towards the way it comes about, the goal being to be freed from the grip of decision-making, by adopting a definite method before the fact. He also says he spends a not inconsiderable percentage of his time comingup with strategies which enable him not to become involved, and to paint as lazily as possible. For example, he often has recourse to procedures based on problems of mathematics or chess. He has, for example, drawn inspiration from a classical problem such as the Seven Bridges of Königsberg for the composition of pictures, and a chess problem for the making of Spitz. (The problem being  : is it possible for the knight to cover all the squares of the chessboard and, in so doing, what drawing produces all its moves ?) In both cases, we can note that it is a matter of exhausting the possibilities of movement on a flat surface akin to that of the picture. In his painting, Frize starts from a logical basis which helps him to obtain compositional solutions based on a rule, be it in the layout or the use of colours, their repetition or, on the contrary, their variation. Talking about « solutions » in painting may seem very scientistic, but the intention, it just so happens, is different. Logic does not guarantee the making of the « best » painting (« scientifically » certified as such), it is a literal solution—the resolution of a trivial issue  : what to paint, and how to paint it. « The subject of my work is not to create processes and rules, they are solely means for doing my work and wanting to work. Painting is a way of exploring ideas and giving them a body to inhabit, so as to be seen and shared. » 2 The aim is to do as little as possible, and not to lay claim to anything scientific ; he tries to introduce situations in which he has nothing more to do, and where things happen « by themselves ». The technique involving the painted brushes, which help him to apply these multi-coloured lines, is also a way of not choosing—of acting in such a way that the mixture of colours eludes the artist. Traditionally, the palette is the place where colours are mixed. Here, it is the canvas which assumes the function of mixer. Sometimes chance produces the procedure, caused by an accident in the studio. This is the case with the paintings in the Suite Segond, made of collages of films of dried paint formedonthe surface of paint pots that have been left open. The technique used with the Six Premières épreuves starts from the same principle, it involves the films of paint obtained from a mixture of colours in the same tray, which acts in a way like an image developer, as directly as you would do with photographic equipment.
4 Cf. Jean-Pierre Criqui, « Quelques mots à propos de « Suite au rouleau » et du reste. Entretien avec Bernard Frize », Cahiers du MNAM #86, Centre Pompidou, Paris, p.96  : « Il n’y a pas d’harmonie, seulement une construction, c’est une peinture idiote, en fait, c’est absolument absurde. C’est pour cela que j’ai dit que c’était une chose ordinaire. C’est assez peu artistique »/« There is no harmony, just a construct, it’s a dumbsort of painting, in fact it’s absolutely absurd. This is why I’ve said that it was something ordinary. It’s not very artistic at all. » 5 Bernard Frize, in Sans repentir, op. cit., interview with Angela Lampe, p.141-142. 6 Cf. Jean-Pierre Criqui, « Les vertus de l’incongruité  : une conversation avec Bernard Frize », Artforum, Oct. 1993. 2 Guest Bernard Frize 5 This quest for non-choice is further accentuated by the collective making of certain pictures, what is more by people with no particular know-how when it comes to painting. This twofold rejection of control can only with difficulty better signify that it is not there, in the search for technical mastery, that his work is played out. In addition to displaying a rejection of the idea of mastery and « personalization » of abstraction, the collective (and egalitarian) work is another way of linking the work to the economy of the painting, and the symbolism of the approach is clearly not devoid of a political dimension. In this respect, if Frize says that the titles of his painting do not mean anything, it must nevertheless be added that some do mean more or less « nothing » than others, like, for example, Conducteur 0. The French term« conducteur », [i.e. machine operator], evokes the function of the person who, in industry, operates a machine, indicating, by the same token, an affinity with a way of doing things in an ordinary, workmanlike way. Frize’s empathy for the ordinary and for simplicity is perhaps what caused a critic to say, during his first show in London  : « They may not be Conceptual, but Frize’s dumbpaintings ain’t so dumb. » 3 Thanks for that, but we may well wonder about the presuppositions of this nothing if not mixed judgment. To start with, what is a « conceptual » painting ? Because Conceptual art is usually associated with discrediting painting (and this even if a certain number of the most eminent representatives of it—John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Lawrence Weiner…—were painters before being « conceptual ») , the wording may seem Bernard Frize, N°10, 2005. Acrylique et résine sur toile/acrylic and resin on canvas, 185 × 185 cm. Pinault Collection. Photo Bernard Frize. Bernard Frize/Adagp, Paris 2019. paradoxical, and we may thus suppose that the critic meant by conceptual painting a self-reflexive painting of « ideas », displaying in its very composition its intentions, its limits, and its place in culture. The next question is  : by this count, what painting is not conceptual, ever since the Renaissance ? What David Barrett calls ‘dumb’must in fact be taken in a strong, positive sense, without there being any need to link Frize’s paintings with one formor another of Conceptual art. Dumbmeans that the painting is just what it is, a naked reality, and its interest lies precisely in highlighting the work rather than the cultural capital. Frize has said himself about some of his paintings that they were dumb. In his mind, this adjective is associated with the ordinary, and with his indifference about the aesthetic result. 4 His compositions, whether schematic or otherwise, enable viewers to mentally reconstruct the way his paintings have been made. The « signature » of the tools used (roller, spray, brush…), as the scientific police would put it, is also very distinct, managing to demystify the act of painting. « I’m not Houdini, I’m not an illusionist, I don’t make magic, but things that are totally realistic. » 5 If we put ourselves within a longer historical perspective, we may remember that, leaving aside the matter of subjects, what set Academicism apart from « modern » movements like Realism was a concern to forget about manual work, and make it invisible by the application of systematic glazes. The emphasis on artistic means is what links Frize with this realist tradition, and it is not haphazard that Courbet is among the painters he most admires. 6 After underscoring how he sought to make use of protocols to be followed « in order not to choose », it is interesting to also pay attention to the other implications of expressions using what is, it just so happens, chosen  : « first choice », a « chosen » language, « chosen pieces », etc. These expressions are part of the vocabulary of distinction, they point to excellence. They imply that value is a function of choice. And luxury entirely relies on this principle of exclusivity, of the « highly » chosen. Frize takes another tack, which we can readily connect with Realism, which is that of the commonplace. Operators have succeeded stone-breakers, and, in his desire to be « like everyone else », Frize has adopted, in his painting, both the procedures and the means to help him to that end.

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