Am I Stuck in the Negative Space?

I have a confession to make: my favorite artistic period is early modernism. I love Donald Judd’s boxes and Sol Lewitt’s colored lines, I live for Eva Hesse’s abstractions and I get lost in Rothko’s early work. And yet, at the Mehdi Chouakri show of Philippe Decrauzat pieces investigating motion, I found myself stuck in the past and not at all happy about it.


Move Along


Time for confession number two: my biggest art pet peeve is redundancy. Don’t get me wrong, I adore homage, I admire reinterpretation, and I can even get solidly behind reappropriation, but nothing is more boring than going to see new work that you looks exactly like work you’ve seen before – for the last 40 or 50 years.


Allow me to set the scene: “four triangular star-shaped paintings are hung separately on each wall….the dominating portion is black, the outer borders are accentuated by linear bands, perfectly painted color gradings from light to dark.” Unusually shaped canvases—Lichtenstein got there first, a focus on illusion using gradations of stripes and color—see Joseph Albers circa 1970, artists focusing on motion and illusion—the list is simply too long.


Bringing it All Back


And so I ask myself, what is of interest here? What I am I given to look at that I haven’t seen before, what am I asked to consider that I haven’t considered in this way to date?The answer came back to me, appropriately enough, from the boomerang in the corner. It wasn’t the largest work or the most expensive, but I have never seen a boomerang labelled “The Primitives” in the corner of a gallery before. And, although it reeks of art history from Picasso to Duchamp and beyond, at least it felt new and interesting in its own small way.


phillipe-decrauzat-5BAPS writer Hannah Nelson-Teutsch with the saving grace: the boomerang. Photo: Chris Phillips


  • Mehdi Chouakri – Philippe Decrauzat “Anti-Illusion” – November 24th 2012 – January 12th 2013, Tues to Sat, 11-6pm [Price range of works:  €3,000 – €21,000]
Article by Hannah Nelson-Teutsch