« Paris in spring and the views are breathtaking » de Rachel Campbell-Johnston
An artist whom you surely never haver heard of arrives, like a UFO as Le Monde puts it,
at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (www.ensba.fr until May 7). It is transformed into what feels
like a fluorescent white mausoleum as it stages Nice to be Dead , a show of work
by Henri Barande. Go and see it : intellectually intriguing, visually discombobulating,
what upon first sight feels dauntingly impenetrable slowly yields up its mysteries .
Barande, who has buried the entirety of his past scuptural œuvre in a secret trove, is now producing a series of large canvases, all the same height but of varying widths, which (sometimes hung individually, more often in pairs or triptychs) are presented not as discrete pieces but as an installation. Together they read like the visual equivalent of some ongoing text, the final meaning of which is infinitely deferred. Sometimes recognisable works by such masters as Gauguin or Memling appears as Turin-shroud-type inprints on a canvas. Are they emerging or vanishing ? But paired with these fragile apparitions might be an eye-punching acrylic abstract. Periods and styles mix. This is a show about time that never tells you what time you are in.
It’s all very Jacques Derrida and, as densely allusive as it is impossibly elusive. And yet the images have a disconcerting power. You may not know quite where you are, but you will realise that you have never been there before .
So make the most of this opportunity. It might be your last. Barande not only refuses to sell his canvases, but apparently he will stage a show in each country only once.
Extrait du Times du 7 avril 2011