A big season lies ahead for artist Pascal Pinaud. Two exhibitions are currently featuring him near Nice (“Sempervivum” at the Fondation Maeght and “C’est à vous de voir” at the Espace de l’Art Concret), before being followed up by another at the FRAC Marseille.
The south of France is fertile artistic territory, and Nice is one of its breeding grounds. Near the end of the 1950s, the Ecole de Nice wrote a chapter in the history of art. This artistic movement asserted its independence from Paris, led by figures including Arman, Albert Chubac, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, Ben and Bernar Venet. Found at the crossroads of different movements – Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus, Support/Surface –, this school would add colour to the French scene.
Pascal Pinaud is a child of this Nice School, even if he was born a bit further off to the west, in Toulouse, in 1964. Graduating from the Villa Arson (Nice) in 1990, he has taught at the same school since 1999. He has also carried out a number of projects in the region, such as an “exuberant composition of hybrid street lamps” for a tram stop in the Saint-Jean-d’Angély district (Nice, 2007). The three institutions which have programmed Pascal Pinaud in 2017, the Fondation Maeght, the Espace de l’Art Concret and the FRAC PACA, thus pay a fine homage to a child – albeit an adoptive one – of the region.
One retrospective, two in situ projects
At the Fondation Maeght, “Sempervivum” resembles a retrospective: paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations and neons, produced between 1989 and 2016, are being shown to the public. “The show conveys the impression of a collective exhibition,” confides Pascal Pinaud. He’s not wrong either, so wide a formal spectrum is covered by the artist’s works. Pascal Pinaud works in series that never find a conclusion. “When I left the Villa Arson, I had four series underway. Today, there are 34 of them,” he sums up.
The Fondation Maeght is thus showing his car-paint works (Tôles), his reproductions of vandalised paintings (Écrans), namely showing Kasimir Malevich’s Black Cross (1915) paint-bombed with a dollar sign (Ecran n°3 EA (00A18) (2000)), his Diptyques composed of fabrics and canvases featuring ornamental motifs, and also his Patères, works made of transparent plates recuperated from glassmakers, assembled with other junk elements. There is also a set of works that Olivier Kaeppelin, director of the Fondation, already revealed in Busan in 2014 when he was curator of the Korean city’s biennial: a matching of On the Way (2014), a ceramic sculpture representing an earthen path, and Stères de bois, a photographic and sculptural ensemble of piles of wood; a set filled out by the Test’Art, enlarged photographs of panel-beater colour tests.
At the Fondation, a special mention goes to an impressive wall of drawings: 105 formal variations using a range of techniques, from collage to salvaged materials. “Drawing has a freedom and economy found in no other medium,” states the artist.
Meanwhile, at the Espace de l’Art Concret, “C’est à vous de voir” offers a hybrid project which reveals Pascal Pinaud’s sense of scenography. For the artist has also curated a number of exhibitions, namely at the Villa Arson (“Trivial Abstract” in 2009) and the Galerie Nathalie Obadia (“Upsadream” in 2008). “I wish to re-inject physiological saline into art,” he announces. “I don’t do exhibitions in white spaces with works every two metres.”
“C’est à vous de voir” recreates a domestic space inside the Château de Mouans, which houses the Espace de l’Art Concret. And what is Pascal Pinaud’s aim here? “To challenge the gaze while restoring to the Château its usage value.” We see a number of rooms, from the living room to the bedroom; a number of works as well; but also furniture items and craftworks which the artist himself collects. All this without any plates. There are carpets aplenty and the universe is a little dated, but the artist recognises it clearly: “These are my tastes!” It’s a funny sensation to walk around in a ‘domesticated museum’ which urges viewers to query the meaning of the institution, and the way in which it fabricates the gaze. “It’s what lies out of range that interests me,” explains Pascal Pinaud.
The next stage of the Pinaud shows is in Marseille, from 1 July to 29 October. The FRAC is placing two platforms at Pascal Pinaud’s disposal, to design “an architectural setup,” in the words of Pascal Neveux, the institution’s director. The exhibition will be accompanied by some historic pieces.
Materials and the memory of gestures
According to Olivier Kaeppelin, “Pascal Pinaud picks up everyday elements; he transforms them and offers an artistic experience of them.” Materials and gestures: above all a craft worker’s gestures, those of woodworkers, embroiderers, panel beaters… Pascal Pinaud’s work is inscribed in the memory of social rituals. “It’s work that is organised around clear protocols and whimsical poetic escapades,” explains the director of the Fondation Maeght. “Pascal Pinaud works on the artistic lexicon of our society from which he extracts components in order to transform them into work whose heart takes an abstract form.”
In formal terms, the two exhibitions reveal Pascal Pinaud’s taste for abstraction and his search for a new modus operandi for painting, one adapted to the 21st century. His influences are manifest, from minimalism to Support/Surface, enabling him to “deconstruct” the grammar of painting. But parallel to these series, Pascal Pinaud also shows more astonishing objects, such as his Arbre à fèves 11A21 (2011): a tree trunk and branches made from lucky charms from galettes des Rois (a traditional French pastry in which charms are embedded, to celebrate Epiphany). “A sculpture made up of a DNA of winners,” jokes Pascal Pinaud in front of this funny-looking tree with a popular-art aspect.
This artisanal aspect is well and truly a characteristic of Pascal Pinaud; his works are patchworks of fabrics, canvases, knitting, corrugated iron, ceramics… All materials which have not been transformed by the artist’s hand but by those of artisans. Since 1995, Pascal Pinaud has signed his name as PPP (for “Pascal Pinaud Painter”). He has gone as far as exhibiting these three letters on the ground in PPP (2006), as if signifying a collapsing artistic paternity. In Pascal Pinaud, there is a type of negation of the work of the sacrosanct figure of the artist. “PPP is a company that supplies pieces,” he announces. A collective, interdependent studio, where a new path in painting is being explored.
“Pascal Pinaud, Sempervivum”, until 5 March. Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, 06570 Saint-Paul.
“Pascal Pinaud, C’est à vous de voir”, until 5 March. Espace de l’Art Concret – contemporary-art centre, Château de Mouans, 06370 Mouans-Sartoux.
“Pascal Pinaud”, from 1 July to 29 October. FRAC PACA, 20 Boulevard de Dunkerque, 13002 Marseille.