Lyrical Nature
 Rock Wood Water Earth, this suite of ten prints, each consisting of a photogravure with a response in woodcut, owe their existence to a more specific origin: the Sequoia National and Pfeiffer National Parks in California, which the artist visited following a Gottlieb Foundation Grant given in May 2009. His ten-day trip provided him with a wealth of material, imagistic and conceptual. The visual poetry of the forest and grand natural scenery has been wonderfully used by Labauvie, who remains close to literature, and has quoted Rimbaud, Valery, and Genet to explain his art. The photogravures are based on photos taken during his visit to California; they anchor the woodcuts, whose organic forms adjust to and translate the images captured on camera. As a group, and over time, the suite of images establishes a remarkable sequence, whereby the essence of nature is transformed into highly developed imagery that extrapolates from known forms into abstraction.
The forms are evocative in their graphic simplicity, which emphasizes nature as coherent rather than random. In Les grands esprits s’entortillent a group of five yellow organic shapes, attached to each other, highlight the photograph of a sequoia tree underneath them. The composition conflates an organic abstraction with a natural one, leading its viewers to consider the relation between art, or culture, and nature. Intuitively, the print works as a mediation between what becomes in Labauvie’s hands a false dichotomy—his imagination is suffused with a scenery that doesn’t contrast so much as support a poetic interpretation of what he has seen. Another print, Watchtower, incorporates five transparent circles that shed light on a forest image; they intensify the visual interest of the photogravure that preceded them in the artistic process. The circles are perfectly drawn, and as geometric forms they assert themselves in some variance with their background, yet one does not sense that a conflict is occurring; rather, the two kinds of imagery coexist within the same space, each of them contributing to the overall sense of the composition.
Tokopah Falls consists of a photogravure of falling water, over which two rough rectangles, connected by a curving line, exist. One triangle, on the left, is vertically aligned; the other, on the right, is horizontal. They offer windows through which the details of the falls can be seen, while the rest of the composition is covered with a silver gauze that effectively hides the water. It is fair to say that Labauvie consistently presents a close-to-mystical connection with the nature that has so inspired him; the pictures of trees, rocks, water, and earth provide him with the foundation for the final image he builds. At the same time, though, he never lets go of the artistic tradition, primarily French, to which he belongs. The visual poetry Labauvie proposes deftly integrates a prelapsarian view of nature with a highly sophisticated cultural enterprise; thus the prints argue for a common goal. His unified, visionary intelligence, combining the manmade and the biotic, shows us that even now, in times when nature is being attacked in so many ways, there exists conditions in which the world is not undone.
 
Jonathan Goodman
New York, November 2010
 
 

A SEASON
Poetry and Sculpture
Marcelin Pleynet


“Towering up within itself, the work of art opens up a world in which it upholds the reign.” M.Heidegger, “the Origin of the Work of Art”

Musical line in the hand, in the mouth, in the ear, in the roof of the mouth, in the nave, under the arches, through the archway: the voice.
Poetry and sculpture: the same
To think and to sculpt: the same
Art: in Greek “tekhnê.” Art is the virtue of poetic intelligence.
Poetry and Sculpture: what one must think...in Greek.
One must catch the note.

Poiêsis of poiein: to make, to create, to produce talking about mankind – to pull ahead, to give birth, to plant thought in the soul, “If only a god could make you stand fast yourselves, tense with all your power and command the rest of your men to stand fast too.” Illiade X III 55
Poiein: to make, to prepare, to execute, to build. To build a residence for each of the gods.” At last when the sun’s fiery light had set, each immortal went to rest in his own house, the splendid high halls Hephaestus had built for each with all his craft and cunning.” Illiade I 608

Poetry and sculpture: the same. The artist inventor to whom any technical miracle is not impossible remembers that Hephaestus is the god of fire, that he is also the god of metal and metallurgy, the creator of the art of forged iron.
“There is neither any art (tekhnê) that is not such a state nor any such state that is not an art, art is identical with a state of capacity to make (poietike) involving a true course of reasoning.” Aristotle, “Nichomacean Ethics”

To forge, to draw, to engrave, to sculpt, to speak through the voice.

The Chou Wen said: “ Art is made up of limits, it resembles the paths which delimit the fields.”
The limit, the line, the path defines and opens the field.
The limit is disposed to define the presence of space, as presence, the unlimited welcome of the open there.
“Using new methods to draw and project in space, using this space, and making use of it to build as if one had to deal with a newly acquired material.”
J. Gonzalez, “The Sculptor Picasso and the Cathedrals”

The sculpture opens the voice as it opens up the field.
The invisible opens the sight, and constructs the regard.
“Now the state of the art is Giotto.”
The air is alive, he forges the line, the flower: “ which from all bouquets is absent.”
The line forges the invisible atmospheric links, which connect us to the horizon.
diségno: drawing and intention
diségno d’una citta a volo d’uccello: space free of time.

To be the here.
To forge, to build a residence, a word to reside in the sky.
What is elevated rests on the earth.
Underground, the dome rises and rests on the earth: here you are.
“As in nighttime anxiety, the stars show us the points of hope in the sky ...
It is these points in the infinity which were the forerunners of this new art:
Drawing in space.” J. Gonzalez, op. cit.

Even in the house where they listen and live through the days that have a real price for the inhabitants of the earth, the sky is spangled in its movement.
“In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo”
T.S. Elliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
What does the sculpture speak about? That the infinite is always there and that beauty is frightened for us.
“The desire to bring the I multiple to an I unique to the infinite.”
A. Giacometti, Writings
Sensations too, and the air here present, imperceptible.

“To make sculpture in such a way that the sculpture becomes a season that one goes through.” Dominique Labauvie, “Of Sculpture as a Filter”
Color, a gold line in the forge, the sunbeam crossing through the deafening truth on the other side of the house. And the landscape resonates all around. It resounds, it constructs in reason. Before us, around us, before and behind us, the air is grave, engraved, to sculpt in the air, as the eye crosses one line to another welded. “So mustn’t it be taken into consideration this short moment, even being very brief as a jump need not be long.” S. Kierkegaard, “Philosophical Fragments.”

It is a strange thing to be obliged to jump in order to rediscover the ground on which we are standing.
Think about the sculpture that says yes two times, immeasurable space, and the volume: thoughts around the earth, not about its density but in its transparency
of being.
What freshness, this light which comes through the windowpane!

Volume: of the Latin volumen (roller of written sheets) of voluo: to turn thoughts over in his mind. Voluta volute, a band in the form of a spiral (Greek: helix which describes a circular movement, a curve, the zigzag of a flash of lightening – circular evolution of the stars – the folds of the ear – the volute or spiral of the column’s capital – the twisted vine – twining.) Volumen: roller, recess, in particular: roller of papyrus on which was written a work or part of a work – a book, just here...
the day slowly

Gong – thought – inward vision. What we see here, letter by letter, through the pages introduces the volume to the voice, which gives the tone and in its rhythm determines its curve, its forge, and its deployment.
“ In reality it is the fatherland, the ground of the homeland. What you are searching for is very near, and is already on its way to meet you.”
F. Holderln “Le Retour”
“O Rumblings and Visions!
Departure into affection and new sounds!” A. Rimbaud, “Departure, The Illuminations”

translated from the French by E. Greenberg



Une Saison
Poésie et Sculpture
Marcelin Pleynet


“Quand l’oeuvre d’art en elle-même se dresse alors s’ouvre un Monde dont elle maintient le règne.”
M. Heidegger, “L’origine de l’oeuvre d’art”

Ligne musicale dans la main, dans la bouche, dans l’oreille, dans le palais, dans la nef, sous les cintres, à l’arc de la voûte : la voix.

Poésie et sculpture : le même.
Penser et sculpter : le même.

Art : en grec “ tekhnê “. L’Art est la vertu de l’intelligence poétique .

Poésie et sculpture: ce qu’il faut penser … en grec.

Il faut attraper la note.

Poiêsis de poiein : faire, créer, produire en parlant de l’homme - tirer en avant, faire naître, semer une pensée dans l’âme : “Ah ! qu’un dieu veuille donc agir si bien en vos coeurs que vous teniez vous – mêmes fermement et sachiez donner pareil ordre aux autres. “ ( Iliade, XIII, 55.)

Poiein: exécuter, confectionner, exécuter, bâtir.
Bâtir une demeure pour chacun des dieux :
“Et, quand enfin est couché le brillant éclat du soleil, désireux de dormir, chacun
rentre chez soi, au logis que lui a construit l’illustre Héphaïstos, aux savants pensers.” ( Iliade, I, 608.)

Poésie et sculpture : le même . Se souvenir qu’Héphaïstos est le dieu du feu, l’artiste inventeur à qui aucun miracle technique n’est impossible ; qu’il est également le dieu des métaux et de la métallurgie, le créateur de l’art du fer forgé.

“ Il n’existe aucun art (tekhnê ) qui ne soit une disposition à produire (poietiké ) accompagnée de règle , ni aucune disposition à produire ( poietiké ) qui ne soit un art ( tekhnê ).”
Aristote, Ethique à Nicomaque

Forger, dessiner, graver, sculpter, traverser la voix.

Le Chou wen dit : “L’art est fait de limite, il resemble aux chemins qui limitent les champs. “

La limite , la ligne, le chemin établit et ouvre le champ.

La limite a disposition à produire la présence de l’espace, comme présence, acceuil illimité de l’ouvert là.

“Projeter et dessiner dans l’espace à l’aide de nouvelles méthodes , utiliser cet espace et s’en servir pour construire comme si l’on avait affaire à un matériaux d’acquisition récente.” J. Gonzalez, “Picasso sculpteur et les cathédrales.”

La sculpture ouvre la voix comme elle ouvre le champ.

L’invisible ouvre la vue et construit le regard.

“A présent c’est Giotto qui a le cri.” J. Gonzalez op. cit.

L‘air est vivant, il forge la ligne, la fleur, “l’absente de tout bouquet”. J. Gonzalez op.cit.


La ligne forge les invisibles liens atmosphériques qui nous rattache nt à l’horizon.

diségno : dessin et dessein.

diségno d’una città a vólo d’uccèllo : l’espace libre du temps.

Etre le là.

Forger, bâtir, une demeure, une parole pour y demeurer dans le ciel.

Ce qui s’élève repose sur la terre.

Dans le souterrain, la voûte s’élève, repose sur la terre : vous y êtes.

“Comme dans l’inquiétude de la nuit, les étoiles nous indiquent des points d’espoir dans le ciel... ce sont ces points dans l’infini qui ont été les précurseurs de cet art nouveau : Dessiner dans l’espace. J. Gonzalez op.cit.

Même dans la maison, lorsqu’ils écoutent et traversent les jours qui ont un véritable prix pour les habitants de la terre, le ciel est constellé dans son mouvement.


“ In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. ” T.S. Elliot, “The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.

Que dit la sculpture ? Que l’infini est toujours la et que la beauté tremble pour nous.

“ Désir de ramener les I multiples à un I unique à l’infini. “ A. Giacometti, Ecrits.

Les sensations aussi et l’air présent insaisissable.

“ Faire en sorte que la sculpture soit comme un saison qu’on traverse . ”
D. Labauvie, De la sculpture comme un filtre

Couleur, ligne d’or dans la forge : la vérité assourdissante de l’autre côté de la maison qu’un rayon ensoleillé traverse. Et le paysage tout autour résonne. Il résonne, il trame dans la raison. Devant nous, autour de nous, devant nous et derrière nous, l’air est grave, gravé , sculpté dans l’air qu’un regard traverse d’une ligne à l’autre soudé.

“ Devrait-ce donc pas aussi entrer en compte ce petit instant si bref soit-il, car d’être long il n’a nul besoin, étant un saut . “ S. Kirkegaard, “Miettes philosophiques”.

C’est une chose étrange que de devoir sauter pour retrouver le sol sur lequel nous nous trouvons.

Penser la sculpture qui dit deux fois oui, l’espace qui n’est pas mesurable, le volume : pensée autour de la terre non dans son bloc mais dans sa transparence
à l’être.

Quelle fraîcheur cette lumière qui traverse la vitre!

Volume : du latin volumen ( rouleau de feuilles écrites), de voluo : rouler dans son esprit. Voluta volute, bande roulée en spirale ( grec : helix, qui décrit un mouvement circulaire, une courbe, zigzag d’un éclair - évolution circulaire des astres - replis de l’oreille – volute ou spirale du chapiteau d’une colonne – vrille de la vigne – sarment).
Volumen : rouleau, replis, en particulier : rouleau de papyrus sur lequel était écrit un ouvrage ou une partie d’un ouvrage – livre ici même ...

le jour lentement.

Gong – pensée – vision de l’intérieur. Ce que nous voyons ici lettre à lettre à travers les pages ouvre le volume à la voix qui donne le ton et, dans son rythme, détermine sa courbure, sa forge, son déploiment.

“ Freilich wohl! das Geburtsland ists, der Boden der Heimat,

Was du suchest, es ist nahe, begegnet dir schon . “ F. Holderlin, “Le Retour”
“En vérité c’est bien le pays natale, le sol de la patrie; Ce que tu cherches est là tout proche et vient déjà à ta rencontre.”

“O Rumeurs et Visions!
Départ dans l’affection et le bruits neufs! “ A. Rimbaud, “Départ”, Les Illuminations.


Copyright Marcelin PLEYNET




Texte d'inauguration de l'œuvre de Dominique Labauvie "HORIZONS SUSPENDUS", le vendredi 4 Avril 1992, quai de Seine - Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19ème
 
" Car c'est poétiquement que l'homme habite ".         Hölderlin
 
On inaugure ce qui est inaugurable, mais aussi et d'abord ce qui est inaugural, ce qui témoigne d'un présage favorable, ce qui est de l'accroissement accordé par une rencontre, ici une sculpture, une statue; ce que l'on rencontre sur son chemin dans la ville que traverse " l'homme qui marche"  ( Beau titre d'une sculpture de Giacometti ).
Une sculpture qui statue, une statue ( étymologiquement : un être debout).
Debout devant nous elle marque la place où se tiennent les choses et les hommes. Elle dresse, elle fixe, elle établit ce qu'en elle et par elle nous découvrons : nous nous tenons debout là, dans ce moment, dans la première surprise, l'inaugurale surprise du moment où un homme s'arrête parce qu'il est dans la ville qu'il habite et qu'il est habité.
 
Cette sculpture devient statue lorsque nous la rencontrons de façon inaugurale. Nous ne l'avions jamais vu et nous la découvrons comme elle se trouve sur notre chemin, parce qu'elle se trouve sur notre chemin.
Aussi bien nous passons régulièrement près d'elle, et aussi bien nous l'oublions et nous oublions de la voir parce que nous sommes trop occupés et distraits de ce qui se propose à nous.
Et pourtant, parfois, dans ces occupations qui nous aveuglent, le monde s'éclaire, la sculpture surgit et nous sommes debout.
Combien de fois n'ai-je pas fait cette expérience à l'angle du Bd. Montparnasse et du Bd.Raspail en découvrant à nouveau et avec la même inaugurale surprise le Balzac de Rodin qui est là et qui pourtant n'attend pas ?
Et c'est peut-être aussi parce que les hommes d'aujourd'hui sont de plus en plus occupés, de plus en plus occupés dans leurs occupations, qu'un artiste comme Dominique Labauvie leur propose la sculpture dans la statue.
Un être debout déployant ce qu'il en est d'être debout, déployant le regard entre le ciel et la terre, ouvrant le volume du regard à ses " HORIZONS SUSPENDUS"
 
La sculpture est là pour ceux qui l'inaugurent dans ce qu'elle déploie.
Non plus attachée et pesante comme un objet.Non plus dans la pesanteur de ce qui tire vers le sol, mais dans l'avènement d'une présence qui assure l'ouverture du monde, l'esprit libre de la découverte toujours inaugurale, et d'un homme déployé dans l'ensemble des sensations qu'il éprouve en se découvrant dans le libre mouvement de ses sensations.
Le mouvement de la libre surprise du déploiement d'un corps et d'une pensée.
 
Qu'on s'y arrête dans ce premier mouvement de la rencontre.
La sculpture de Dominique Labauvie n'impose ni droite , ni gauche ,ni devant ni derrière, ni dedans ni dehors, ni haut ni bas.
Attachée au ciel par le déroulement de ses arches renversées , elle s'élève de la terre.
La terre n'est pas son nom mais le sol.
Lorsque nous la rencontrons, l'œuvre d'art, la sculpture engage dans un volume qui est le sol de la cité toute entière puisque ici comme là-bas nous y sommes et nous y habitons.
Lorsque nous la rencontrons elle se découvre et nous entraîne à la suivre dans sa ligne, dans ce tracé qui se déploie et qui est d'abord le déploiement d'un "faire".
Le déploiement poétique, au sens étymologique du mot, d'un faire, de ce qui se fait sous nos yeux et que nous habitons. La sculpture que nous rencontrons nous dit que la ville que nous habitons, Paris, nous ne la découvrons vraiment, heureusement, toujours pour la première fois, dans la première surprise, que si toujours pour la première fois nous nous employons toujours à nouveau à l'habiter et à la faire horizons de nous-mêmes, ici proches et lointains, toujours à nouveau suspendus.
 
Marcelin Pleynet



A Conversation Between Dominique Labauvie and Gregg Perkins
August 2013

This text is culled from a conversation between Labauvie and Perkins on the occasion of Labauvie's exhibition "Wire. Paper. Steel." at the Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. Labauvie is an artist who lives and works in Tampa, and Perkins is an artist, writer, and associate professor at the University of Tampa. This exhibition was organized by the director of Gallery 221 Katherine Gibson.

GREGG PERKINS: In much of what I have read about your work there is discussion of how drawing relates to your sculptural practice. Could you discuss how you use drawing within your three-dimensional work?
DOMINIQUE LABAUVIE: Since the very beginning of my artistic practice, drawing was imposed by the materiality of the sculpture. When I worked with a solid block of material, for example a block of stone or wood, I used drawing as a guide because the form that you hope to find is hidden somewhere inside the block. You cannot enter inside the materiality without a drawing. You need a succession of drawings, of lines, to enter slowly, door after door into the subject. As a young sculptor, I was not preoccupied with drawing. I was more a sculptor in the action of sculpture.
Alain in his Introduction to Esthetics states:
Art is a way of doing, not of thinking. This trait, the most evident of all, is the most forgotten.
Art is finally an action that brings about thought.
The Ogival arch is beautiful when created spontaneously; and in becoming a project it loses everything.
With time I discovered that the inherent quality of drawing is just as important as the sculpture. There are two types of drawings; the drawing you make on the material, on the floor, or directly on the wall, and the drawing that exists by itself on a sheet of paper. This drawing on paper is at the same level as the sculpture in its uniqueness of image. It is not the drawing of a sculpture, it is not a drawing that conducts the idea of a sculpture, it is an image by itself. I am not obliged to make “portraits” of finished sculpture. Liberating my thought process regarding line and surface, that led me to discover the fantastic freedom we have within drawing took several years. And so I can say from my artistic point of view, that drawing is the most important art of all. It is more important than painting or sculpture, or performance. The drawing – the gesture in the space – is like the conductor in front of the orchestra; it is the direction.
GP: That leads me to a question about poetry and material choices. For example, some of the steel that you use is reclaimed steel from a local bridge. Do you find that the provenance of the material has a kind of potential for poetry?
DL: In the mid 1980’s I started to work with natural elements such as
heather and reed. These materials instinctively brought me to introduce on the one hand the concepts of soil, mineralogy, resistance, the force field or torque and on the other hand the concepts of fluidity, flexibility, and the hollow body.
At this time steel appeared to be the material of choice to assemble the heterogeneous structure of the natural elements without limiting their specific language. The steel could structurally maintain the elements, accompany the movement of a gesture or be a totally independent structure.
So to finally answer your question, the steel used for Flying Buttress is Carnegie Steel from the Carnegie Steel Company of Pittsburgh. This steel is from the Columbus Drive Bridge that had been built in 1925. I used this material because it was the perfect material for the poetic form of this work.
Richard Serra has said that the relationship between the weight of the steel and the ground is fundamental for his work. But for me, the branches, the reeds, the trembling elements of nature, the movement, the sensuality of the movement, the sensuality of the approach, fingers, and the fingertips are essential to my work. My heritage is not from Richard Serra, but from Alberto Giacometti in the way he had to touch the clay, and to touch it again.1
The material chosen in the act of making sculpture generates a unique and poetic presence as soon as it enters into the body of the form. Through our personal history we memorize that specific intimacy with the material as if it is part of our body.
The provenance of the material plays an active role in the choice of the artist. Its origin is essential and opens the gate for action. If we look at certain European artists and their materials such as Joseph Beuys whose choice materials included felt, grease, trees and a dead rabbit; Gina Pane, Orlan, Schwarzkogler, and Hermann Nitsch for example who use the body as their palette; we can understand the importance that personal history has for the choice of material. It is that intimacy, obsession, curiosity, memory, pragmatism or utopia that conducts the poetic material through the metamorphosis
1 Alberto Giacometti's artistic process consisted of meticulously pinching clay onto an armature so as to produce iconic human figural sculptures, which would then be cast in bronze.
Poetry is not only words, but also souvenirs and images. For example, in “The Waves,” by Virginia Woolf, she writes: It is Perceval, said Louis, sitting silent as he sat among the tickling grasses when the breeze parted the clouds and they formed again, who make us aware that these attempts to say, “I am this, I am that which we make, coming together, like separated parts of one body and soul, are false. Something has been left out from fear. Something has been altered, from vanity. We have tried to accentuate differences. From the desire to separate we have laid stress upon our faults, and what is particular to us. But there is a chain whirling round, round in a steel blue circle beneath.”3
GP: Flying Buttress is the sculpture that will be on exhibition at the Gallery 221@HCC. Describe the process of how you came to assemble that piece.
DL: In a sculpture or a drawing, you have to find the form. In Flying Buttress you have basically one form, which is the belt at the top that is suspended in space. What I have achieved in that piece is something I like very much in art: a certain fragility. What I am searching for is the transformation of the steel, to transform myself in a sense, in becoming the material and to exhaust the strength of the material, but to keep enough resistance for it to work in the space. So the holes, all that fragility, the thinness; it is all very important. I am speaking about fragility as elegance, not weakness. For example, the work of Richard Serra is full of fragility. The material seems to be indestructible, but in reality, if you make any mistake in the form the whole piece will fail. In Serra’s sculpture you are engaged with a work that contains absolutely no doubt. It is sure; it is defined by belief. I do not work in the exact same way, but I need the work to be fragile and delicate like a drawing, like a feather, like the wind; using the trembling nature of the steel and it’s flexibility: something like a sword.
2 For further elaboration on this point see Alain Badiou in "The Subject of Art," where he discusses how artworks and bodies relate. Particularly, he states" So we can say that subject [artist] is always a new relation between a trace [the artwork] and a body." [http://www.lacan.com/symptom6_articles/badiou.html]
3 The eliptical form at the top of Flying Buttress takes its shape from this very Virginia Woolf qoute.

GP: Steel is ostensibly one of the most sturdy materials on the planet so when you push it to reveal its fragility, it seems that you are taking sculpture to a new place. At the same time, there is a paradox in using strong materials to depict a kind of ephemerality, and also using drawing to make three-dimensional objects in the sense that the sculptures are enactments of drawings or three-dimensional drawings. That ironic nature is interesting to me because I think part of the poetry of the work is that you are making these sturdy materials look incredibly fluid and fragile, they appear almost vulnerable.
DL: That is very French. At a certain moment in my life, I was responsive to an 18th century French artist named Hubert Robert and his taste for creating images of ruins. I was also fascinated by Piranese’s etchings of the prisons of Rome. We prefer to see a Greek ruin rather than a brand new temple in the Greek style. The ruin is the moment where we confess our fragility in front of eternity. Art is never an answer; it is really a question we ask about ourselves. Art is always a beginning; it is never the final point. Hegel said that very precisely, that the sense of the art is the inauguration. The opening like an exhibition, when you make an opening, you make art. You open the gate. And the drawing or the sculpture is nothing else than that moment of origin. The art begins at the moment when the visitor enters in a conversation with what you exhibit. Nothing else. The art has no future; the art is dead, and it belongs to the past automatically. It is only the origin.
GP: About the past, and the French desire to go back and look at ruins, I wanted to ask you about the relationship of time and distance to your work. In ways time and distance can be synonymous.
DL: Time and distance are different, but at the same time they are connected because they are the only way to measure speed. And speed in art is very important. For example the speed in contemporary art has nothing to do with the speed we observe in the art of Michelangelo. Paul Virilio, in his book “The Machine of Vision” addresses the subject of the speed of vision. Using the war in Iraq as his example, he analyzes how we view and perceive this reality and the “real time” reporting that covered this war. This notion of real time did not exist in the past, in antiquity. Most of humanity completely ignored current events.
GP: Because they had no way of instantly knowing what was happening on the other side of the city, country or the world.
DL: Right. Now the average person believes that they know everything in real time. In art you work with time, you work with the story of your life and you work with an unknown time. You cannot be conscious of everything in a drawing or a sculpture because you are focused within an action. The action is not premeditated – the action is only movement, impulsive movement, construction and destruction. If you see Clouzot’s documentary Le Mystère Picasso, you see Picasso painting. While he paints, he destroys all of the time. So to make one image he needed
to make 15 images, erasing one after another. That is fantastic of Picasso and Clouzot to show this as most of humanity think that artists immediately reach their target. Picasso has no target, he is in an action, and discovers the target after. So that distance is very important and it is important to create that distance with the subject. You cannot paint an apple on a plate like Cezanne without this distance. The more banal the subject is the more distance you need to create it and the more personal history you will need to feed the subject. Contemporary art often approaches real time without any distance. This is not art, it is information. This information and the quality of the image of this information may be the beginning of a new art but it explains nothing. In viewing one of Warhol’s crash paintings with the ambulance and people, one can notice the distance from the event is tremendous; it is not an image portraying pure information about a past event, but an intellectual translation inclusive of Warhol’s thought process and personal history.
GP: The Warhol pieces are good examples. So can you talk a little more about reality and the creation of artwork as they relate to distance? What comes to mind with distance specifically is how the process of fiction can occur between the actuality in the world and how the artists portrays it. Art is on one side and reality is on the other with the potential for fictional treatment of the subject between them. Within that distance between reality and how the artists represents the reality is where the poetry can happen, the fragility can happen, where the treatment of the subject actually occurs. It is basically where the art lives – is between the reality and the creation.
DL: Between these two poles of reality and creation is where the action occurs. The fragility, the vulnerability, to be suddenly brilliant or not, leads to the origin of the gesture. That is the action.
GP: That is an interesting point, because if we go back to Courbet we could discuss realism under this light.
DL: When you speak of Courbet, I immediately think about the painting Bonjour Monsieur Courbet, 1854. It is about a collector and his servant who meet the artist at the crossing of a road. All three come from the same society, and the artist in the painting is Courbet himself. This is interesting because it is a painting by Courbet. It is such an important image for me because it is exactly the representation between the past and the present, that movement about which we were just speaking – between the origin and the dream.
Courbet speaks about how he approaches reality – the reality of the grave in Gustave Courbet's Burial at Ornans, 1849 that depicts a funeral ceremony and an assembly of people surrounding a grave, or the reality of the handshake in Bonjour Monsieur Courbet. But it is not the exact moment, it is just before; it is a moment in motion. It is not like the painting of Jacques-Louis David where everything is transformed into sculpture. Something will happen, but we don’t know exactly what it will be because we are in the present.
That potential movement is what I research in my sculpture. In Flying Buttress you have lines from the orbital form to the floor. Along those lines, you have forms, segments, that are moving visually, there is no real movement, it is a of movement. I like the word pre-figuration – something shall happen. Art is that: something shall happen.
GP: That the moment is full of potential but we don’t know what narrative will become.
DL: We do not know. And that is why I do not know what the subject will be at the beginning of the journey. I begin with the material, the size, and the decision about scale is made. The scale is very important in sculpture and from time to time, I do little pieces in wire that do not require a studio or any special tools. It is a pleasure to play with the scale as small or large pieces produce different senses. And it is a kind of obsession. And I am obsessive in my work too. I am in a moment in my life, where I am really obsessed with the idea of segments. Segments are a very important concept when working with steel because the material itself is heavy.
The segment is the segment of the body. And you approach the segments like a drawing. I can make a line or a form. I need the notion of segmenting the form, piece after piece, movement after movement, because I am unable to immediately create the entire complex form. You enter into the form like you enter into writing: word after word. It is like music. If I compare John Cage and Johann Sebastian Bach, they have something in common, they use repeated segments: repetition. Our body is the repetition of cells, of bones; our memory is based on the repetition of language. Language is the repetition of itself, nothing else. To simply repeat a line is fantastic.
When you see Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings at the Dia Foundation you are humbled by the patience, the energy, and the vertigo of his line work. You start to share his passion, which embraces you.
GP: There is great importance on repetition within your work. When looking at your work I have often thought of music before seeing it as depicting recognizable forms in the world. They have a lyrical feeling. So what is the relationship between music and your work?

DL: The relationship is direct. Music is composed of lines, of interruptions, of different levels of sound, similar to the variations of line, mark and scale in a drawing. The music can embody trembling like the vibrato on a cello or a violin. The vibration of a piece of steel is sound. If you think of Calder, the single vision of his work introduces us into the shapes and movements of musical instruments. What is extraordinary about music is that the music disappears when you stop playing. At the moment that the music stops, the memory of the audience begins to work. Something stays; the emotion or non-emotion stays with the audience.
In front of a painting, sculpture, drawing or performance, it is the same. That is the relationship between visual art and music, because it is the origin that matters.
GP: So then the question becomes: if the drawings and sculptures were diagrams for something, what would that something be? And let’s talk about the drawings that will be on exhibition at the Gallery 221@HCC.
DL: The word diagram comes from ancient music theory. It was defined as the visual language to make musical sound visual. These new drawings are made with two kinds of forms; the diamond and the trapezoid, and they address two different things. In Notes de Silence, the diamonds are holes, places that are completely carbonized. First, a hole, a grave, the tomb in Courbet’s Burial At Ornans, in which the body will be consumed, and at the same time the trapezoid forms transport the diamonds into the space. This duality makes for both a negative and a positive form. That duality is important for me. The holes are more or less open; they are notes that create a musical progression and rhythm from the bottom of the composition to the top, with the high notes at the top, with the lower notes at the bottom. All of the forms are in a sort of smoke because the charcoal is effectively the remainder of a tree that was burned by fire without oxygen. It is an old material for drawing. The cavemen probably used the same material since the invention of fire. The origin of the material I use is important for me just as is the paper size and the white pigments. I use a warm and a cool white, and I mix them to create a perception of disappearance. I imagine that the black diamonds will continue to consume the image, reminding me of Fontana slashing the surface of a painting.5 It is an opening. In essence the notion of diagram is important because it creates the momentum and brings the drawing into a celestial space.
The drawings were made especially for this exhibition, and Flying Buttress was made earlier. Magnetic Fields is comprised of volumes connected by a sort of a dreidel, creating zones of construction and destruction. The pieces are not balanced; they are connected only by the strange diamond form, a sort of magnetic compass. Perhaps you could stack the three columns and see a volume. In the first drawing you have holes, in the other you have volumes.
5 The Italian painter Lucio Fontana famously slashed white canvases and exhibited the paintings as such. The cutting of the surface served both as a compositional element, and to recognize the canvas as an image and an object simultaneously.
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1960, oil/canvas, once belonged to Andy Warhol.

GP: These compositions, and the sculpture don’t seem to follow the rules of perspectival space.
DL: It follows the rules of my specific perspective; the use of only two dimensions is the most important characteristic of my sculpture.
GP: So you can infer what the back of the sculpture looks like by seeing the front? In other words, nothing is hiding around the back?
DL: The back is the hidden face through which you enter the secret code of the sculpture. The concept of contrary is very important in life and in the form. “The Psychology of the Form or Gestalt Theory” by Paul Guillaume comes to mind. To see letters in their correct reading, and then looking at them in reverse, they are illegible but they are the same letter. Two-dimensional sculpture is essentially the foundation of my work. This concept was born on a wall with Sumerian and Mesopotamian art, and within the walls of the churches of the 12th century. To make a sculpture that we can walk around is relatively boring to me. The frontal perception is tragic because you don’t have to deal with the side and the back. It is like a movie, it is about frontality. Contemporary society works with two-dimensional imagery. Most of our information is shared through screens of some kind. We are dealing with brief moments and that is the speed at which we perceive our environment. Perception can happen on different levels and on different speeds. You have different kinds of time. The moment you first see a painting, you are confronted with a question, that you may not be able to answer immediately. It is only an impact, a bullet. You feel something, but you don’t know if you are dead or not. Some people need weeks or years, because most of the paintings you see in a museum you only see for a few seconds. Some of the images will stay in your memory, others you will forget. From the book “The Waves” by Virginia Woolf, four or five words will stay with you for your entire life. The time is important. The first impact is important because you have to retain the attention of the viewer. Actually, most artists need to be understood quickly because life is relatively short. It can become an obsession. We need to find the recognizable thing so people talk about the work. Otherwise your work remains unknown. At the same time, you need to produce an image that continues to stay interesting through time. An artist cannot only work in the present. You need to put in your art something about the 20’s or the 19th c. or the 18th c. or antiquity. Something must remain from these times. That is the chain of blue steel that Virginia Woolf was talking about. Art is a connection to the past. When Ai Wei Wei uses pieces of temples, or pieces of furniture destroyed by Mao Tse Tung, he uses the past and to use
Ai WeiWei, Colored Vases, 2006. 10 Neolithic vases (5000–3500 B.C.), industrial paint, Each approx. 30 x 20 cm Coll. Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Dominique Labauvie, NOTES DE SILENCE, 2013. Pastel & Charcoal on Stonehenge. Two panels: 4' 2" x 10' 9" each. photo: Edward Linsmier
the past is to be modest. To believe you are inventing something new is to be arrogant; we need to be a little arrogant, but not too much. What is most important is the connection the artist realizes within the culture of humanity.
GP: Regarding the pieces in HCC, how do you see these works within the larger continuum of your work?
DL: We have defined through our discussion that continuity is the relationship between distance and time. This body of work is new and is more radical because I have excluded the subjective biomorphic forms from the work; I have eliminated the random curves, keeping only the basic gestures of the body – all the connections to my subjectivity have disappeared. Creation, like life is a question of strategy. How do you continue to survive and to continue to be interested in and by your work? It is important to find a way to continue with your physical abilities and difficulties. The more I reduce the work to the elementary forms and symbols, the more I approach the efficiency of the monumental in my sculpture. The reason I am working in the U.S. is the huge American repetitive space, which helps me to keep a strong focus on my journey. It is a country in which the dimension of the space is a human dream. It is a space of abstract expression, without forcing anything.
GP: I wanted to also discuss the smaller wire forms. How do they play into the larger schema of your work?
DL: Because this is an exhibition for students, it is important to show them that we have to translate the form from one size to another. We have to play with both small and big things. These works come from the wire that is attached to the bottle of Champagne called a muselet. It is a little expensive, but I like it. I am not alone in liking Champagne. First you have to deconstruct the universal form that is always the same. It is interesting because the destruction is by itself a transformation. In that destruction of the muselet, the line keeps the memory of what it was before. When you are working with a new material you must remember that the material has a memory: marble has a memory, a branch has a memory, a 2 x 4 piece of wood has a memory.
For me, the little works are reminders. There you find your form. To find a form once is relatively easy. But to do the same kind of research with the Champagne muselet wire over the years and for pleasure, you understand the need to do something relatively new…something with monumentality, because monumentality is not defined by real time scale.
GP: And finally, while we have discussed using pre-existing steel in your work, is there any use of factory made materials in your sculpture?
DL: Yes, from time to time. New steel is fascinating because of the size possibilities in relation to the landscape. When I need lines in steel, I take a sheet of steel and I cut my lines one after another which takes days. The first part of the sculpture is its materiality. I have to create that materiality. You cannot write a letter without memory, without words; you have to have those words in your head. Similarly, to begin a sculpture, you need to have all of the surfaces, and the lines in front of you. It is a part of the work; it is a physical aspect of the work. It is the Voltri pieces of David Smith. And this process takes place while you are physically working on the piece. You think about what is in front of you.

Not unlike what a student does in school with their work. It is an engagement. That is why Agnes Martin or Sol Lewitt made their lines without a ruler; everything was done by hand, like a plowed field, one line after the other. This results in a collective work about that one concept: the making of lines. The sculptor Constantin Brancusi is a master of monumentality because the work was not automatically big. Everything was done archaically with an axe and a saw, but they turned out to be monumental. It is not a question of size or of technical equipment. I feel that the wire sketches are important, in the same way making drawings is important, because the more you work, the more you are inside the work, it is a chain reaction.
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