Pierre Ardouvin, ‘Tout est affaire de décor’

Exhibition by Pierre Ardouvin
16 April – 4 September 2016
Curated by: Alexia Fabre and Frank Lamy with the assistance of Julien Blanpied
Lightings: Serge Damon
Editing and production assistance: Artfrontline

The next big event at the Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne is a solo show by French artist Pierre Ardouvin. In this theatrical, phantasmagorical presentation he offers an overall vision of his work in the form of meticulously orchestrated display featuring some thirty works, assembled and replayed at the MAC VAL. A mix of new pieces and reactivated works are set out over the 1,350 sq. m. of the museum’s temporary exhibition space, but also in the vestibule and the garden.
‘Tout est affaire de décor’ offers a poetic stroll that takes visitors inside the artist’s singular sensorial world, which they can explore and recompose at their leisure.
If the pieces are autonomous, their dialogue also creates a veritable mental landscape. By appropriating familiar images and objects and subjecting them to his own imaginative logic, the artist offers a kind of personal and collective narrative on the terrain of shared experiences, such as the clichés of popular culture in France in the 1960s and 70s.
His use of the object is linked, above all, to its grounding in the real, and to its emotional and sentimental resonance. The impression of uncanniness that results is due in large part to the scale and positioning of the objects. Ardouvin invents a fictional universe created by an offcentre vision of everyday life, of society, and of what it generates. The décor is reversed, just as questions are turned on their head. Furniture hangs from the ceiling here, while over there a glider with a wingspan of 18 metres spreads across the floor, apparently neither newly landed nor about to take off. Everything is poised ambiguously between relaxation and unease, distance and immersion, suspension and fall. This switching of perspective is what structures this immersive installation in which the viewer, as witness of this disenchanted world, at times becomes the subject of the show as well. Time frames merge and a mute anxiety seeps into the discreet atmosphere of this melancholy and metaphysical scene. Although Ardouvin is well known for his use of sound, and especially of pop music, this exhibition bathes in a thick silence, even if each work has its own, very loud mental resonance.
Behind an outer lightness, Ardouvin addresses themes such as loss, the passing of time, separation and solitude. With distance and humour, he strips the society of the spectacle and questions our presence in the world by projecting us into a suspended space, between the innocence of the child full of illusions and the reality of the disenchanted adult. Behind the festive appearance, the atmosphere is almost disturbing, yet never completely distressing. The artist seems to be saying that something will happen; that something must happen.

Pierre Ardouvin was born in 1955, he lives and works in Paris.
He has had numerous solo and group shows in France and other countries (Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Jumex Foundation [Mexico City], Mori Art Museum [Tokyo], NMCA [Seoul], etc.), and his works are held in numerous public and private collections around the world. He is represented in France by Galerie Praz- Delavallade and in Belgium (Liège) by Galerie Yoko Uhoda.