AEROPLASTICS Contemporary is pleased to announce the return to the city of his birth of that most Belgian of French artists, Olivier Blanckart.
Like Alice stepping through the looking-glass, Olivier Blanckart traverses the border to return the insult of Baudelaire's pamphlet Pauvre Belgique some 150 years later on. As if, in these times of Bling Bling, it is only beyond Parisian frontiers that work of this kind may be mounted.
For the image, and in particular the photographic image, is the centre of gravity of his oeuvre - the photographic reproduction as such (like in the series Me as...), or the interpretation of a photographic image re-worked in three dimensions as in his various sculptures. Blanckart takes as starting point these images that have become popular icons. Icons whose original content has been lost for the viewer and that the artist then (a)mends, as it were. To accomplish this, he uses recuperated materials: kraft paper, adhesive tape, cardboard, etc. All these worthless materials, generally serving just to wrap and protect things, here are fashioned and sculpted to become themselves the true and valued oeuvre. And it is the very ambivalence of this materials, at once playing the cards of realism and the grotesque, that allows the innate story of the image - now in 3D volumes - to re-emerge.
The A-Men (2008) ironically deconstructs icons of Marvel Comics and those of contemporary art. In this way, the White RY-MAN bursting though a pure white canvas is assailed by super-villains, The NAU-MAN and the SHE(R)MAN. The pithy violence of Bruce Nauman and the grotesque incarnation of Cindy Sherman lay siege to Robert Ryman's pure art.
Politico-religious confusion and its détournements (i.e. deflections, reroutings) are revisited in The Remix of Babylon (2008), a Bush-ian reinterpretation of the distressing disco hit Rivers of Babylon by Boney M.
Katmandoo (2002) deconstructs the official photograph of the Nepalese royal family massacred in 2001.
With NASDAQ (2007), Blanckart takes aim at a strange convergence between the era of conceptual art and the regime of dematerialized technological values. Both were marginal sectors, and both have become established frames of reference.
With Femmes Déviolées (2004-2005), Blanckart calls into question the brutality inflicted upon Algerian women, forcibly unveiled to be photographed by French soldiers during the Algerian War.
Whether it has to do with photography (the series Me as...) or his series of sculptures based upon these images in adhesive tape and cardboard, Blanckart is driven by a very post-modern obsession: the deconstruction of icons and, if possible, knocking idols off their pedestals.