Iván Navarro, Omar Ba, Claude Viallat

Galerie Templon

Iván Navarro, Nebula II, 2020, hand-painted mirror, LED light, wood, aluminum, glass paint, glass, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy, 48 × 48 × 5 7/8″. © Courtesy Templon, Paris – Brussels.

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Iván Navarro: Planetarium January 30 – March 27, 2021

The City of Lights will be saturated with the radiant works of conceptual artist Iván Navarro as it hosts two new exhibitions, at Centquatre and Galerie Templon. The arts centre is offering a retrospective look at over 20 years of his work while the gallery is unveiling ten radically new pieces, born of pandemic-era isolation; bursting with inspiration and inventiveness, the works are entirely handmade by the artist.

Born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, Iván Navarro grew up under the regime of Pinochet before moving to New York in 1997. Fascinated by the codes of minimalism and American design, he builds electric sculptures whose raw material is light itself. Haunted by his experience of the dictatorship, his work subtly intertwines artistic references and political engagement. He uses lighting, optical illusions and wordplay as tools to transform space, shift perceptions and explore questions of power and control. Over the years, he has created pieces that, behind their enticing appearance as light installations, evoke the darkest themes of our time: torture, imprisonment, domination, north-south inequalities and political propaganda.

With “Planetarium”, Iván Navarro takes the viewer on a poetic journey through cosmic landscapes. Constellations, nebulae and eclipses inhabit large panels of illuminated glass which open like windows onto infinite space. Both sublime and slightly disturbing, his imaginary maps question the limits of astronomy, mental representations and anthropocentrism. At the heart of this star-strewn voyage, pieces such as “Shard” refer to shattering blasts; and “Mirage” also implies a latent violence.

Omar Ba: Anomalies February 4 – March 27, 2021

For his new exhibition in Brussels, Omar Ba, rising star of the African scene, is presenting an exclusive group of paintings more critical than ever. An original and striking portrait of the continent, the show explores the fragility of democracy and individual freedoms.

“Anomalies” opens with a gallery of portraits of imaginary heads of state. Intertwining mythological and oneiric references, the artist subtly denounces the insidious regimes of leaders “who claim to be democratic but in reality, neglect its most important firewalls, from the constitution to the national assembly.” As a counterpoint, another group of paintings evokes the current pandemic. By juxtaposing a dazzling palette with pale, pervasive flashes, repetitive to the point of obsession, the painter exposes the cracks in our social and mental environment. This new work questions the representation of the “individual”, subtly examining the contradictions of our materialistic values of freedom and fulfilment: to what extent must we place limits on our freedom and comfort in order to save lives?

Discarding the codes of traditional painting, Omar Ba has thrown off the shackles of the predefined format imposed by the frame. He has chosen to paint directly on rolls of bare canvas or on large cardboard boxes placed on the floor. He starts by using black paint to prepare opaquely uniform backgrounds before populating them with a profusion of fantastical beings, part human, part animal or plant. Each painting is then cut out, mounted and framed. Omar Ba develops highly personal narratives and metaphors, drawn from daily life as well as ancient African cultures. Abandoning his early abstract style, he has created an enigmatic figurative style with a blend of oil paint, gouache, Indian ink and pencil. He uses this unique, dense and unsettling visual language to communicate the complexity and cruelty of the themes he tackles: political violence, exploitation of nature and the phenomena of domination and exclusion.

Please click here to watch a virtual tour of the exhibition.

Claude Viallat: Sutures and Varia January 30 – March 27, 2021

Represented for twenty years by Galerie Templon, Claude Viallat, an iconic figure of French contemporary art, is taking over the vast space on Rue du Grenier-Saint-Lazare for the first time with a radical exhibition that defies the codes of painting, volume and space.

A member and founding-member of the avant-garde Supports/Surfaces movement in the 1970s, Claude Viallat has established himself as a leading figure in French painting. For nearly half a century, he has spurned stretchers and canvases, instead painting on unstructured or juxtaposed textiles, endlessly repeating the same motif in a palette of shimmering colours.

“Sutures and Varia” offers a selection of works painted in the last two years. The new “sutures” series, elaborated during the recent lockdowns, is anchored for the first time in a reflection on the notion of junction. Fabrics with unusual contours and textures are assembled, as if “sutured” by strips of fabric with floral patterns. These sutures, simultaneously friezes and bandages, are laid loose, carefully folded, and assembled by the artist. The wall can be seen through their gaps, thus revealing the artifice of the combinations.

Please click here to watch a virtual tour of the exhibition.

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