Patrice Carré: Sounds in formation (and more)
In the history of Western Art, humour - let alone comedy - doesn’t hold the same prominent place that it holds in literature, in theatre and even in philosophy (Aristotle and Bergson, just to name a few, respectively came up with a definition of the ludicrous and of laughter). A good part of Patrice Carré’s work (French, born in Angers in 1957) is an instance of this particular mode, still quite a rarity in Art to this day. Indeed, there is never a feeling of drama, nor any kind of psychological obsession, nor the assertive finality of dogma, but rather a certain irony – devoid of any kind of snobbery or intellectual overtones – and a natural attitude for highlighting the lighter, and often the funnier aspects of reality, in an actually humorous manner. To be more precise, Carré’s work encompasses everything that is usually confined to those arts that one tends to classify as ‘minor’, like illustrated satire and comic books.
Carré has indeed repeatedly drawn inspiration from the world of comics, in order to gather material to use in his works and instil in them his sense of playfulness and levity that sets them apart from the rest of the international artistic landscape – increasingly weighed down by grave topics (and sometimes by a certain portentousness), ranging from politics to sociology, from psychological introspection to anthropological analysis. Belgian cartoonist Hergé, with his famous Tintin comic books, inspired many of Carré’s works: one of these was showcased in his first solo exhibition for e/static in 2002. The use of the ‘d’après’ is frequent in Carré’s work, which also draws from many illustrious artists, especially from Matisse, and Duchamp. As far as the former is concerned, the faithfulness to the model is always close to complete: in Maquette pour la danse à crans, in 2009, Carré even used the same drawing pins applied by Matisse (or, anyway, some drawing pins which were very similar to those used in the original), thus totally identifying with his very open and pragmatic approach. As a matter of fact, Matisse didn’t hesitate to use anything at hand at the moment of creation, with a very serious playfulness (the same displayed by children, clearly). Carré manifests a similar attitude in all of his works, beginning by the choice of the subject, then moving on to the execution of the piece itself, and finally to its presentation.
In 2008, when Carré was inspired by a 1935 work by Duchamp, Rotoreliefs, he diversified his piece from the original by inventing a new series of images, all depicting an assortment of rather funny situations arising from a summer vacation: thus the title was changed to Rotos de l'été. However, the structure of the work stays the same, and consists of 24 discs, which – like in Duchamp’s archetype – turn on the turntable of a record player, creating peculiar optical illusions (a recurring procedure in Carré’s work). Four copies of the work were made (one of which was acquired by Frac-Bretagne) and one is presented again on the occasion of this exhibition, along with several other new pieces that are going to be showcased for the first time. They exemplify the artist’s peculiar flair for creating relatively simple pieces to make – almost always hand-crafted – but which, already in this phase, contain the essence of his approach: a certain serious playfulness, carried out, in other words, with great care and precision, perfectly balancing fun and commitment.
Nevertheless, Patrice Carré’s art, apparently ‘untroubled’ and light-hearted, is permeated with precise cultural references and learned iconographic quotations of the aforementioned authors, to whom one may also add, among the many others, Le Corbusier, Picasso, Luigi Russolo, Jacques Tati, Alfred Jarry, Christian Marclay.
Patrice Carré exhibited his work in public and private venues especially in France (FRAC Languedoc Roussillon in Montpellier, FRAC PACA in Marseilles, DRAC Pays de la Loire and Musée des Beaux Arts in Nantes, FRAC Bourgogne in Dijon, and galleries in Paris, Marseilles, Villeurbanne, Rennes), but also in international venues (Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Städlische Museum in Koblenz, Galerie YYZ in Toronto, in Canada). He has already realized many public projects throughout the years, the most significant are the following: the Café-musiques Argentine in Beauvais, in 1998, the permanent installation «Les 5 fondatrices» at the médiathèque in Lannion in 2006 and, the same year, the permanent light and sound installation «Les mondes à l’envers» in the underground parking lot of the Lyon St Exupery Airport. As a performer, his original Pop Steam show is noteworthy, and consists in sounds performed live with a set of pressure cookers and the cooperation of Mathieu Chauvin – now at its eleventh production, it was also performed in Turin in 2004, on the occasion of that particular edition of visionair.