From March 6th to August 2nd 2009

A word from the Exhibition Curator

For more than forty years now,
Noël Dolla has been engaged
in a most singular pictorial
undertaking. His body of work,
and also his thirty-five years
of teaching at Villa Arson,
make him one of the most
important artists in France today.
Many specialists have analysed
his art, and one need only
consult their writings to get
an informed view.

However, I would like to mention one or
two words that, it seems to me,
offer some essential pointers
to Dolla’s world: the city of Nice,
painting, women, fishing,
the domestic, rebounds, masks
and lures. But also, memory.
In fact, all Dolla’s work is about
memory and remembering.
The memory of the actions
and works that came before it.
Memories of the studio,
of its tools, savoir-faire and
techniques. And, at the same
time, a constant questioning
of these memories, a forgetting.
Amnesia. From the outset,
Dolla has proceeded in series,
reprising and reconnecting.
His work appears to
be articulated (torn?)
between two seemingly
opposing tendencies:
a radical deconstruction
of painting and its concepts,
resources, purposes, tools
and histories, and the artist’s
subjective and even personal
or extravagant involvement
in his art. He likes to state
that he steers between
Supports-Surfaces and Fluxus.

The painter (his daily life,
places he has been to and people
he has met, his political
positions, his reactions, what
irked him and pleased him
and anguished him, his joys,
the tragedy and farce – his life
story) is present throughout,
yet masked; hidden.
The retrospective curated
by Christian Bernard at MAMCO,
Geneva, in 2003, very
appropriately put the emphasis
on the rhizomatic (to say
the least) quality of Dolla’s
work, which has developed
in a series of reactions, delays
and iterations.

Moving on from there, ‘Léger vent de travers’
[Light Crosswind] focuses
on recent developments
(2002–2009), illuminating
these with a series of historical
flashbacks. As it now stands,
this show features some
hundred works in a display
specially conceived for
the gallery at MAC/VAL.
The recent works are thus
articulated around the edges
of the space and on two added
picture walls, while this
sequence is punctuated
by three enclosures, three
modules or zones of memory
whose respective themes could
be defined as follows:

1. The development of Dolla’s
work over the decades.
2. The conceptual
and theoretical issues
informing Painting.
3. Personal memories
and family context.

Life, of course, is never that
clear-cut, and this neat scheme
of things is regularly nudged
from its linear path by moments
of friction, resurgence or recall,
like light crosswinds.

Frank Lamy
Exhibition Curator


Petit Journal

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