Oblivion (Colour)


Oblivion (Colour), 2019
Paint, a few drops of jujube juice

In painting the walls of Le Parvis – Centre d’art contemporain, in Tarbes, France, the artist reactivated an action first carried out at the 2019 Venice Biennale, where he mixed a few drops of jujube juice into the paint used to cover the inner and outer walls of the Luxembourg Pavilion. This inframince gesture, invisible to the eye, trans­ forms the paint into a sort of mental placebo and imbues it with the power of oblivion. In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses visits the Land of the Lotus Eaters (the Tunisian island of Djerba), who live on the stupor-inducing fruit and flowers of the lotus tree. The lotus symbolizes a special danger for all explorers: the risk of a welcome so friendly, a land so hospitable that mariners lose all desire to leave. No sooner do they eat it than the thought of returning home evaporates. Scholarly research relates the fruit of forgetfulness to the jujube plant (probably native to Asia and found in Africa more than 4,000 years ago). In the gallery, where the artist performed the action as a ritual, sharp eyes could spot a slight tonal difference in the colour of the walls. Initially imperceptible, the nuance creates a horizon line at the point where the two tones meet and, like a measuring stick, marks the artist’s height (174 cm). This difference further accentuates the characteristic impression of floating in space, like a mirage. The area where the white is warmer reflects the paint used for the previous exhibition, which, by mistake, was produced with a minor chemical change of which clients were not notified.

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    Installation views, Le Parvis – Centre d’art contemporain, Tarbes, France, 2019–2020

Installation views, Le Parvis – Centre d’art contemporain, Tarbes, France, 2019–2020