La belle hypothèse
Extract from the text: The virtuality of actuality
A wooden plank above an ideally blue expanse of water – this is an image that several works of art (and not the least of them) have put forward. A Bigger Splash, which David Hockney painted in California, in the summer of 1967. The ochre diving board overhanging the pool, and the spray of water dissimulating the diver. On the other side of the pool, two palm trees, topped by a tuft of green leaves… Calmer, but just as Californian, the water Ed Ruscha photographed the following year for his book Nine Swimming Pools. Three of the nine images show a diving board standing out against the flawless blue. Plants and parasols embellish the surroundings. Delphine Coindet’s La Belle Hypothèse, 2004, carries within itself memories of Hockney’s painting and Ruscha’s photographs. On the ground, a curvaceous turquoise air-bed suggests the aquatic element: water represented by something that would ordinarily be found floating on it. In 1967 (the year of A Bigger Splash), Pino Pascali produced an image of the sea with 32 mq. di mare circa, consisting of some thirty shallow basins filled with blue-tinted water. In 1988, Jean-Marc Bustamante’s Le Verre bleu used a slightly convex plate of glass protected by a low white fence to represent part of a swimming pool. There is no diver to disturb the waves in La Belle Hypothèse, but a plywood E – Poseidon’s trident? – with three prongs of unequal length resting on the inflatable structure. It would be difficult to see the object as a diving board. The colour and the position might fit, but the form seems to lay claim to a type of abstraction that would be incompatible with an exercise in representation. Besides which, this E serves as a support for a large stylised metal flower that is clearly foreign to the world of swimming pools, though it has links to the aquatic realm; one might think of a water lily1. La Belle Hypothèse: Giverny, rather than Los Angeles? Monet of course – Hollywood nonetheless. Or rather, the water lilies in Giverny, but in a cinema studio, under sunlamps. A few steps away from the sculpture, a spotlight projecting a beam of light onto it, imperceptibly ranging over the colours of the spectrum. The flower passes smoothly from orange to indigo, from green to pink, from yellow to red. This chromatic lighting system animates the three elements on the floor, and introduces time into their sculptural existence. But above all, it brings into play a strong sense of artificiality, and turns these three elements into a setting – that of a highly improbable narrative which would be more likely to come to life in the Dreamworks studios than those of Paramount. La Belle Hypothèse syncretises the different aspects of an aesthetic that lends itself to a simplified type of figuration, with a projection into space brought about by the use of the third dimension.
In catalog Delphine Coindet
Co-edited by Centre d’art contemporain d’Ivry - le Crédac / Laurent Godin gallery, Paris / La Salle de bains, Lyon / Evergreene gallery, Geneva / FRAC Basse-Normandie / La chapelle Jeanne d’Arc, Thouars.
Translated from the French by John Doherty.
Film of the exhibition © Claire Le Restif / le Crédac
Born in 1969 in Albertville, France; she lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland.