Curatorship: Claire Le Restif
“Let’s not forget that esthetics is first an ethics of feeling.”
An art center is not a museum but occasionally it has to become one. Thus, today, for the first time, Crédac has mounted a retrospective exhibition devoted to the living work of a deceased artist, Bruno Pélassy. A beautiful and fruitful collaboration played out around his oeuvre, with the unfailing support of the Pélassy family, the artist’s friends (Natacha Lesueur, Brice Dellsperger, Frieda Schumann), art critics and experts of Pélassy’s body of work (Didier Bisson, Florence Bonnefous, Marie Canet), generous collectors, and the art centers Passerelle in Brest, CRAC in Sète and MAMCO in Geneva. Between 2015 and 2016, these institutions will feature in turn exhibitions and events devoted to the artist.
The main aim of the Crédac show is to return to the spotlight the work of this singular French artist, who is etched in the memory of the artistic community but has yet to be discovered by the public at large. Pélassy produced his work in the context of the 1990s, a time of economic hardship and individual and collective traumatism having to do with the AIDS virus, but the decade was also one of artistic ferment in Nice, where he was close to the art school and art center of Villa Arson, then under the direction of Christian Bernard. His friends were the artists Jean-Luc Blanc, Brice Dellsperger, Natacha Lesueur, Marie-Ève Mestre, Jean-Luc Verna and “guardian” artists like Ben. He had his first exhibition in 1993 in Nice at Art:Concept. Pélassy did not attend art school. Rather, he studied textiles and jewelry, which eventually led to his working for the jeweler Swarovski, while from fashion design he was to borrow his processes, materials, and the techniques for shaping them. A do-it-yourself approach joined forces with painstaking work that employed glass and crystal, and the creation of jewelry went on right alongside his construction of cheap little mechanical creatures.
The works featured in the show were all created over a period of ten years. What is striking from the very outset is the diversity of the experiments, both esthetic and technical, which the young artist seemed driven to give form to like some irresistible impulse. There are the “Créatures,” silk and lace organisms moving about in aquariums; “Bestioles” (Bugs), a mechanical bestiary making a spectacle of itself; the portraits done in wax or pencil; his only video piece, Sans titre, Sang titre, Cent titres (1995), a kind of manifesto in which the magnetism of the video tape is gradually erased as it is reread over and over again, damaging the image until it disappears; and the “Reliquaires” (Reliquaries), which contain both pieces of jewelry and one of the artist’s jackets.
The Crédac show refuses to stake out a position that strives to ape a display the artist himself might have devised, but neither does it adopt an overly museum-like approach to presenting the work. Thanks to the present show, Bruno Pélassy’s output can be seen once again and now is part of what is most current and relevant in today’s art. The images to which it refers, the echo of the context in which it was created, and the use of metaphors and figures which it puts out into the world form a vast field of experimentation that allows us to fully measure the interest of this body of work, an oeuvre that won’t go out of fashion, that is somber and luminous, sophisticated and cobbled together, heartfelt and lucid, and above all free.
Claire Le Restif
Exhibition film, directed by Bruno Bellec. © Le Crédac, 2015.
Bruno Pélassy was born in Vientiane, Laos, in 1966, he died in Nice, in 2002. His work is represented by Air de Paris, Paris. In 2003-2004, MAMAC in Nice has organized a large retrospective exhibition Néo-Laos jointly curated by Florence Bonnefous, Didier Bisson, Brice Dellsperger, Natacha Lesueur, Maxime Matray, MarieÈve Mestre… His work has been exhibited in the following group shows : Un Nouveau Festival (Centre Pompidou, 2012), Le sort probable de l’homme qui avait avalé le fantôme (La Conciergerie / Centre Pompidou, 2009), Opéra Rock (CAPC, Bordeaux, 2009), Le Voyage intérieur (Espace EDF / Electra, Paris, 2005).
Events & meetings
With the generous support of Swarovski and Centre national des arts plastiques / Media partnership : Zérodeux, revue d’art contemporain trimestrielle et gratuite / Sponsoring for the opening : Grolsch