May 15 – June 14, 2023
Julien Colombier et Gabrielle Kourdadzé
Galerie Ars Longa

Nothing predestined them to work as a duo in the context of the same exhibition. Nothing, that is, except painting. If painting has its secrets, it’s always possible to pierce them and catch a glimpse of what might bring them together. All it takes is a good understanding of the artists, a sense of their motivation to use this medium, and an appreciation of the similarities and differences between them. Nothing, then, but painting and the desire of a third party.

Gabrielle Kourdadzé’s art is driven by the human, Julien Colombier’s by the vegetable; one is rooted in reality, the other in the imaginary. The latter uses photography to capture this or that posture of individuals encountered here and there; the former leaves no place to the human species and his universe is pure fiction. One might therefore think that they are poles apart, but having chosen painting as their medium of expression and the figure as their plastic vector, they come together in the way they approach this exercise. Of course, the latter’s art is based on the problem of inscribing in space one or more figures – or even fragments of figures – contained within the support on which they are depicted, while the former’s approach is based on letting go of surface colour to express something of a vital force. But in both cases, it’s an attempt to express a being-there, in the sense that what governs their respective art stems from that inner necessity that Kandinsky defined as the sine qua non of any creative act.

What’s more, each of them has a drawing practice that is constitutive of their approach, and thus at the source of their creation. Kourdadzé’s is based on meticulous attention to detail, and her inks on paper play with subtle monochrome values. Colombier’s drawing is the very framework of his field of practice, whether it occupies an entire wall or the surface of a single sheet of paper, and his use of pastel enables him to play with all kinds of velvety tones and chromatic vibrations.

The term Contemplations chosen for their exhibition speaks volumes about an attitude to painting, similar to the way Gasiorowski spoke of it when we visited his studio and he invited us, at one point, to “go and see Peinture”, embodying it in the mythical-fictitious character of Kiga. Taken from the root of the word, contemplation literally means “to be with a portion of the sky”. It’s an invitation to an elevation of the spirit. But it’s also a question of time, since every form of contemplation requires us to take it or give it. This ties in with the ontological foundation of painting, when we say – once again to these two artists – that “the luxury of painting is to take its time, and the luxury of the painter is to give it theirs. And the viewer must act too. How could it be otherwise, if we aspire to enter painting?

Kourdadzé’s halting figures, like Colombier’s invasive landscapes, demand that our gaze linger on them because, far beyond what is given to see, the subject is never more than pre-text, whereas painting is the text. Texture, matter. In this case, colour, in contained flat tints for one, in brushed strokes for the other – but it doesn’t matter how. What differentiates and unites them testifies to the possibility of a mode that is as inexhaustible in its resources as it is resolutely perennial in the galleries.

Philippe Piguet

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