THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

Octavio Zaya. 2018

Sometimes you have to forget, or, if you prefer, momentarily set aside the things you know – those acquired procedures and habits that we use to help us interpret an artwork. Any consideration of the issues Joël Andrianomearisoa raises in his work necessarily has to begin with the artist’s poetic imagination. Although his creations are not particularly challenging to analyse, the contrast between the specificity of the titles he chooses for his works and exhibitions and the all-embracing, opaque abstraction in which those same works operate seems somehow to suggest the existence of some undefined, perhaps inexplicable – and perhaps even impenetrable – tendency. It is as if we are looking at an encounter between two different entities.

Andrianomearisoa’s exhibition at the Centro de Arte Alcobendas brings together a group of works which all tend towards abstraction, but from different registers. But whether the artist’s point of departure in these works is cloth on canvas, paper, tapestries, papier mâché or collage, they all share a certain sense of ambiguity which sometimes links them to the landscape and sometimes alludes to objects and structures. Andrianomearisoa in no way attempts to approach abstraction through pictorial recreation of appropriation, or from a stance critical towards painting or abstraction. Abstraction is simply another element that helps us dissolve any sense of anticipation, any preliminary narrative. On that basis, Andrianomearisoa places us in a space and a situation that are both unpredictable, where any effort we might make to possess the work, to endow it with meaning as an end in itself, is constantly interrupted.

These works do not aspire to transmit a sense of anti-illusionism. Their aim is just the opposite. Here we are not looking at what would usually be considered the essential elements of painting – brush, paint and canvas – and there is no intention to engage with the practical techniques that have historically been used in abstract painting. Here, literality and minimalistic aspirations are present in appearance only. Indeed these works are more reminiscent of that type of formalist painting in which the artist would mentally immerse spectators in vast colour fields as a means of pushing them into a wholly fictitious space, as, for example, in Andrianomearisoa’s cloth on canvas work The Complex Horizons (De l’Amour et d’un Romance), 2018. What we are talking about, then, is a kind of distracting trick, manipulation or falsification within the work itself, in its execution, its crafting and its potential. But at first sight, the work offers no clue as to its meaning, and this space sheds no light on the structuring of the artist’s discourse.

That is not to say that Andrianomearisoa’s work is self-referential or lays any claim to its own distinctive niche. Actually, the artist is not all that far from the “neo-conceptualists” and “neo-minimalists” of the late 1980s and 1990s, who emerged to challenge – among other things – subjectivism, emotionalism, and the heroic stance adopted by the “neoexpressionists”. Like them, Andrianomearisoa adopts abstraction to serve his own interests. As I suggested earlier, abstraction is a vehicle. Moreover, Andrianomearisoa is fully aware that abstraction is a force which operates in both the economic and social spheres. For him, abstraction also creates potentially poetic images and can be used to address his own personal experience. The originality and the quest for the absolute which marked much of classical abstract art from Malevich through to Barnett Newman are here replaced by an ambiguity and an ambivalence that are never fully clarified. Andrianomearisoa seems not only to break free from the anguish of what has influenced him but also to assert his desire to expand his own visual language.

This s nowhere more evident than in the titles of his works and exhibitions. Here we find something different, something that does not usually correspond to the realm of the works themselves, and when it does – like in The Complex Horizons, which ostensibly refers to landscape – is immediately dissolved in a specific definition which contrasts with the image we see in the work (in this case ( De l’Amour et d’un Romance) (About Love and an Affair). The title of this exhibition illustrates the establishment of two disjunctive, complementary spaces: that is to say, two spaces that are separate but at the same time intrinsically linked, space which considerably extend the visual language of the works on display while simultaneously presenting the spectator with the dilemma of choosing between different alternatives. But just how far does a title like No habíamos terminado de hablar sobre el amor (We Hadn’t Finished Talking About Love) – the title of this show in Alcobendas – explain and expand upon the work we are going to see or have already seen? What kind of works does it suggest? In what kind of space does it want to place the spectator?

In a recent conversation, the artist admitted that, as we suspected, the title of the exhibition is taken from Jean Genet. That in itself undoubtedly puts us in a whole new mental arena, evoking images that contrast with the opacity of the works on display. Like Genet’s never-ending love, such titles – with their references to names of books, poems, verses, films and groups – forge a compact, intense space of possibilities in which we are allowed to conjure up all kinds of narratives. Here, the artist’s poetic imagination is condensed and spectators are bombarded with references and images that involve them directly in the work. But what work are we talking about? Where does a work start and finish? What should we focus on – the physical, visual space of the objects and structures the artist offers us or that imaginary space made up of fragments of other ideas, other discourses, other origins?

There is admittedly an abundance of darkness, but the artist also celebrates light. I said earlier that Andrianomearisoa uses abstraction to create potentially poetic images and to address his own personal experience. Similarly, the titles help him to establish interruptions and disjunctures that highlight the resources of his own imagination and reveal the other side of his intentions. Andrianomearisoa lives and works between Paris and Antananarivo, Madagascar. His art and his ideas arise out of both locations, and cannot be said to be determined, given meaning or fixed in one single space by either of them. From the economic, political and social legacy of colonialism, the adoption and adaptation of colonial cultures and the affirmation that both his own subjectivity and the culture of his country are essentially different, Andrianomearisoa fashions a discourse of disjuncture and contrast, a dialectic space marked not by the successful hybridization of the parts but by a continuous sliding backwards and forwards between one idea and another. Like the empty containers of his series Vestiges of Ecstasy, 2016-2018, his reality is made up of remembered objects and ideas that are progressively shaped over time but which lack any real content in themselves.

The disjuncture and the interruptions come into play precisely in this in-between space, between the work and “its references”, between the titles and “the work”, preventing us from grasping the artist’s imagination in a clear defined space. It is here where Joël Andrianomearisoa weaves together the ambiguities, contradictions and possibilities that endow his work with meaning and depth.

A veces uno tiene que olvidar o, si se prefiere, aparcar momentáneamente lo que sabemos, los protocolos y hábitos que hemos adquirido y que utilizamos para acercarnos a una obra de arte. Si nos proponemos abordar las cuestiones que pueden derivarse de la obra de Joël Andrianomearisoa no podemos empezar sino a partir de su imaginación poética. Aunque la obra no parezca presentar mayores desafíos, intuimos una corriente irresuelta, tal vez inexplicable, o tal vez hermética, cuando advertimos el contraste entre la especificidad de los títulos de sus exposiciones, y de los que el artista elige para sus obras, y la opaca abstracción general en la que se desenvuelven las mismas obras. Parece como si contemplásemos el encuentro entre dos entidades diferentes.

 

La exposición que Andrianomearisoa presenta en el Centro de Arte Alcobendas reúne un grupo de obras que en su conjunto se acercan a la abstracción desde diferentes registros. Sin embargo, ya sea a partir de textiles sobre lienzo, papeles, tapices, papel moldeable o collages, estas obras de Andrianomearisoa comparten cierta ambiguedad, que unas veces las relacionan con el paisaje y otras veces hacen vaga referencia a objetos y construcciones. En ningún caso, el artista se propone aproximarse a la abstracción desde una recreación o apropiación pictóricas, ni desde un posicionamiento crítico sobre la pintura o sobre la abstracción. La abstracción no es más que otro elemento para ayudarnos a disolver cualquier anticipación, cualquier narrativa preliminar. A partir de aquí, Andrianomearisoa nos emplaza en un espacio y una situación imprevisibles que comportan una interrupción constante de cualquier esfuerzo por acaparar la obra como finitud.

 

Estas obras, entonces, no tienen una voluntad anti-ilusionista, sino todo lo contrario. Aquí no confrontamos lo que sería esencial a la pintura—brocha, pintura y lienzo—ni existe una intención de implicarse históricamente con las prácticas materiales de la pintura abstracta. Aqui ni hay literalidad ni vocación minimalista sino en apariencia. Si acaso, las obras se acercan más a aquella pintura formalista que se proponía la inmensión mental del espectador en vastos campos de colores para impulsarnos en un espacio ficticio, como en el caso de sus textiles sobre lienzo Les Horizons Complexes (De l’Amour et d’un Romance), 2018. Incluso sus obras monocromáticas—me refiero particularmente a las diferentes versiones de su The Laberith of Passions, 2018—obvian la pintura y la abstracción sumergiendo nuestra atención en los pliegues y repliegues del papel negro y sus matices. Hablamos, pues, de una suerte de artimaña, manipulación o falsificación que nos distrae en la obra misma, en su factura, en su destreza y en su potencial. Pero, a primera vista, la obra no nos acerca a su significancia, ni este espacio nos facilita la articulación del discurso.

 

Esto no quiere decir que la obra de Andrianomearisoa sea auto-referencial o reclame para sí un espacio de autonomía. En realidad, el artista no está muy lejos de los “neo-conceptualistas” y “neo-minimalistas” que surgieron hacia finales de los 80 y durante los 90 para contestar, entre otras cosas, al subjetivismo, el emocionalismo y el posicionamiento heroico de los “neo-expresionistas”. Como aquellos, Andrianomearisoa adopta la abstracción para sus propios intereses. Como sugerí antes, la abstracción es un vehículo. Además, el artista es consciente de que la abstracción es una fuerza que opera tanto en el espacio de la economía como en el dominio de lo social. Para Andrianomearisoa, la abstracción también crea imágenes potencialmente poéticas y puede servir de medio para abordar su propia experiencia. La originalidad y la búsqueda de lo absoluto que caracterizó a buena parte de la abstracción clásica, desde Malevich a Barnett Newman, se sustituyen aquí por una ambiguedad y una ambivalencia que nunca acaban de resolverse. En este contexto, el artista no sólo parece liberarse de la anxiedad de la influencia sino que enfatiza su deseo por expandir el lenguaje visual.

 

Donde este perfil parece más evidente es a partir de los títulos de las exposiciones y las obras del artista. Aqui nos encontramos con un espacio diferente que en lo general no se corresponde al espacio de las obras, y cuando parece hacerlo, como en el caso de Los horizontes complejos, que parecen apuntar al paisaje, inmediatamente se disuelve en una especificidad que contrasta con la imagen que nos ofrece la obra: (Del amor y de un romance). El título de esta muestra es un ejemplo del establecimiento de dos espacios disyuntivos y complementarios—es decir, separados e intrínsecamente relacionadas entre sí—que, por un lado, extienden considerablemente el lenguaje visual de las obras y, por otro, establecen una alternativa y un dilema en el espectador. ¿En qué medida un título como No habíamos terminado de hablar sobre el amor—bajo el que se presenta la muestra de Alcobendas—informa y expande la obra que vamos a ver o que ya hemos visto? ¿Qué obras sugieren ese título? ¿Donde se emplaza al espectador?

 

En una reciente conversación con el artista, este reconoce que, como sospechábamos, el título de la muestra procede de Jean Genet. Ello, sin duda, nos sitúa en otro espacio mental y sugiere imágenes que contrastan con la opacidad de las obras. Como el amor interminable de Genet, estos títulos –que hacen referencia a títulos de libros, a poemas o versos, películas o nombres de grupos, etc—conforman un espacio de lo posible, contenido e intenso, en el que se nos permite elaborar toda clase de narrativas. Aquí se condensa la imaginación poética del artista y en el espectador se disparan las referencias y las imágenes, y nos hace partícipes de la obra. ¿Pero de qué obra hablamos? ¿Dónde empieza y dónde termina la obra? ¿Dónde debemos poner nuestra atención, en el espacio retinal que nos ofrecen los objetos y construcciones que nos presenta el artista o en ese espacio imaginario que son vestigios de otras ideas, de otros discursos, de otros orígenes?

 

Si por un lado existe una abundacia de oscuridad, el artista también celebra la luz. Decía antes que el artista utiliza la abstracción para crear imágenes potencialmente poéticas y para abordar su propia experiencia. De la misma manera, los títulos le ayudan a establecer interrupciones y disyunciones que subrayan los recursos de su imaginación y también el otro lado de sus intereses. En efecto, el artista vive y trabaja entre París y Antananarivo, Madagascar. Entre una y otra se desarrollan su arte y sus ideas y no podemos decir que una u otro lo determinen, lo signifiquen o lo fijen en un espacio único. Entre la herencia económica, político y social del colonialismo, la adopción y adaptación de las culturas coloniales, y la afirmación de la diferencia de su subjetividad y de la cultura de su pais se trama una disyunción, un contraste y un espacio dialéctico cuya condición no es la resolución híbrida de las partes sino el deslizamiento continuo entre una y otra, Como los contenedores sin contenido, vacíos, de su serie de Vestiges of Ecstasy, 2016-2018, la realidad del artista se compone de objetos e ideas de la memoria que se van moldeando con el tiempo, pero que carecen de contenido.

 

En este espacio intermedio entre la obra y “sus referencias”, entre los títulos y “la obra”, la disyunción y las interrupciones maniobran para que no podamos asir la imaginación del artista en un espacio resuelto. Aquí es donde se entretejen las ambiguedades, contradicciones y posibilidades que dan a la obra de Joël Andrianomearisoa su sentido y su profundidad.

BAROQUE DECLINATION

Delfim Sardo. 2017

In Western artistic tradition, the monochrome or the use of a reduced chromatic spectrum was often associated with a certain mistrust of manual labor — or so say modern discourses.

However, the monochrome has called upon a progressive and inherent proficiency in the fields of craftsmanship and opticality — at least since the emergence of a certain canonical formulation (we could say, after the coming of age of the ubiquitous proposals by Yves Klein and the darkening of the palette by Ad Reinhardt). Even if this process seems to contradict the programmatic character of condensing the range of the palette, it is still self-justifiable: the nominal condensation of the palette entailed the amplification of the subtlety of the gaze; the construction and development of tonal gradients, either assisted by phenomenological or by analytical reasons, called for a very specific know-how and for an increasingly demanding procedural excellence.

In a first approach, it is within this lineage that we can locate the work by Joël Adrianomearisoa, a Paris based artist born in Madagascar, in 1977. Using paper, textiles, glass or photographic images, his pieces are elaborate serial spatial constructions with white and black gradients, evoking Piero Manzoni’s achromas and the work of Robert Ryman. In relation to the latter, the comparison is almost inevitable as both artists develop a serial work that depends on a proficiency of execution in which their production of meaning is contained. Joël Adrianomearisoa’s fake monochromes (fake because they have several tones) are often three-dimensional and do not permit an analytical approach — their proximity to traditional practices, the way they imply timeless, collective, and often ritual procedures (such as how to wrap the body), convokes an anthropology or, at least, the creation of an anthropological procedure dedicated to the complexity of the urban. These traditional and plastic experiences of the body, which include the use of the Lamba (a traditional garment used in Madagascar as a polymorphic cover for the body) and the dressing of the body for the burial ceremonies, are part of the many convocations we can find in Adrianomerisoa’s body of work. We also detect a second difference, which is possibly as significant as the first. The artist outlines a poetics of space through the articulation of spatial structures that, sometimes, convey a certain irony, which is almost hidden behind the delicate materials used by the artist. To put in fewer words, in his work we identify a baroque awareness of space — something we probably owe to his studies in architecture — in the sense that meaning exudes from the fold, from the pleats that structure his visual formulations, from the interstitial spaces that (also) characterize baroque space. Reasonably cryptic autobiographical references, delicate materials, ductile and fragile shapes, all work as engines that activate references to cultural contexts, as well as to the field of the subtle poetics of the quotidian, to the urban as the place where multiple languages converge as image.

JOËL ANDRIANOMEARISOA

Virginie Andriamirado. 2008

En premier lieu, se perd le regard. Ne sachant par quel fil l’aborder, il s’égare dans l’espace de l’œuvre, champ insaisissable, ouvert à la mode, l’architecture, la photographie et la vidéo . C’est dans l’alchimie de ces croisements combinatoires, que naît l’œuvre de Joël Andrianomearisoa.

Chez lui, tout devient matière.

Dans L’étrange, l’artiste filme la nature jusque dans ses moindres frémissements. Il en révèle l’étrangeté sans la dire et la livre au regard comme un premier jour. Elle emplit l’espace et happe le corps-mémoire qui y surgit. Intrusif et secret, il caresse et fouille les entrailles de la matière végétale qui s’offre à lui. Aux heures bleues de la nuit, les flammes qu’il provoque dessinent le présent dans le noir.

S’il fallait trouver un fil conducteur à son oeuvre, le temps et le corps en seraient les poétiques vecteurs. « La seule chose qui m’importe c’est de faire avec le temps. Et ce qui m’angoisse le plus, c’est de n’être jamais dans le temps, d’être dépassé. Ma manière de répondre à ce défi, c’est d’être en permanence à contre-courant ». L’œuvre de Joël Andrianomearisoa intrigue parce qu’elle se construit – à contre temps – dans le mouvement. Elle se positionne dans un va et vient entre l’affirmation et la négation. Construire/déconstruire, habiller/déshabiller, remplir/vider, froisser/plier, éclairer/éteindre : l’artiste se situe dans l’entre deux de ces oppositions qui chez lui se combinent plus qu’elles ne s’affrontent. Dans ces étreintes paradoxales, l’œuvre prend sens, offrant une infinité de propositions.

Les couleurs du noir

Pierre angulaire de son œuvre, le noir est omniprésent dans sa démarche.

Loin d’être monochrome, il est pour lui à la fois une et mille couleurs. Ce parti pris du tout noir, relève d’un défi permanent qui pousse l’artiste à réinterpréter la couleur inscrite dans une démarche sans cesse renouvelée. Selon les matériaux, les compositions, les différents angles d’éclairage choisis, le noir déploie dans ses créations une infinité de nuances.

« Pour moi c’est un défi. Dans chaque pièce, je dois trouver différentes couleurs, postures du noir. Ce n’est pas seulement la couleur, c’est une attitude qui n’exclut pas le reste. Elle tend vers l’universel. Le noir intrigue, dérange, mais il est présent et fait sens partout ».

Si le noir peut renvoyer à une certaine idée de l’austérité et du minimalisme, il donne à l’artiste la liberté de déconstruire, de déstructurer l’édifice de l’œuvre. Le noir ouvre l’œuvre et lui donne la liberté de l’exubérance.

L’étoffe des songes

Depuis ses débuts, Joël Andrianomearisoa a fait du textile un élément récurrent de son oeuvre. Parce qu’il en dégage tous les possibles, il lui donne une polyphonie qui devient langage. Nous sommes dans le langage de la matière qui se laisse fragmenter, plier, froisser, mélanger. La diversité et la superposition des tissus mis en scène dans ses tapisseries, leur donne une densité architecturale qui évoque celle de la pierre.« J’aime la malléabilité du tissu qui permet toutes les combinaisons à travers le nouage, le tissage, le découpage, l’assemblage. Il est porteur d’un langage qui peut aller très loin ».

Sa récurrence pourrait faire écho au lamba, étoffe de tissu omniprésente à Madagascar. Il est vêtement le jour et couverture la nuit mais aussi linceul qui enveloppe les corps. La manière dont il est porté, la matière et le nombre de bandes qui le composent, indiquent la position sociale, l’âge, l’origine même de ceux qui le portent.

« La vie dans les plis »

Le travail de Joël Andrianomearisoa se situe toujours à la lisière des choses. Il n’aborde pas son œuvre de manière frontale, se situant au bord du désir de celui qui la découvre. Dans son travail, tout est finalement question de posture. Celle d’un artiste à l’écoute des palpitements de la vie, qui met en scène, plus généreusement qu’il n’y paraît, une manière d’être présent au monde, « dans le nu de la vie ».

L’espace urbain est celui qui l’intéresse le plus. Les bruits, les odeurs, les images, les éclairages, les mouvements incessants générés par la ville, habitent son univers sans l’emprisonner dans un espace géographique identifié. Ses images emmènent le spectateur vers un ailleurs qu’il n’attend pas. « J’ai besoin d’être surpris par les images. Il faut que la situation soit décalée. Je ne me considère pas comme un photographe. Je suis quelqu’un qui fait des images».

Pour les composer, l’artiste a besoin d’un cadre de départ. Commencent alors les expérimentations, les manipulations à travers lesquelles le projet se dessine. « L’œuvre naît de diverses manipulations qui me conduisent au résultat final. Quand je monte une installation, je n’imagine pas sa finalité. Je connais les éléments qui la composent mais c’est dans l’instant où je les mets en place que je redécouvre quelque chose”. Et c’est là que l’œuvre prend sens ».

Là réside sans doute la virtuosité poétique de l’artiste, dans sa capacité à saisir l’instant substantiel dont nul ne sait quand il commence, ni quand il finit.

Dans le nu de la vie, titre d’un roman de l’écrivain français Jean Hatzfeld, éditions Le Seuil, Paris, 2002.

La vie dans les plis, titre d’un recueil de poèmes d’Henri Michaux, éditions Gallimard.

At first glance, seeing is lost, mislaid in the space of the artwork. One does not know to approach it, an imperceptible field open to fashion, architecture, photography and video. The art of Joël Andrianomearisoa is born from these hybrid exchanges.

In his world, everything becomes material.

In L’Etrange ( 2007 ), Andrianomearisoa films nature in its slightest shivers. He reveals its strangeness without stating it, and delivers it to the eye like a first dawn. Nature fills the space and captures the emerging body-memory. Intrusively and scretely, he caresses and excavates the depths of the vegetative material. In the darkest hours of the night, his flames outline the present in black.

If it were necessary to find common strands in his work, time and the body would be his poetic vectors. « The only thing that matters to me is to deal with time. And what frightens me most is never to be on time, to be outdated. My way of answering this challenge is to be permanently against the current, » he says.*1* Andrianomearisoa’s work puzzles because it builds itself, against the flow of time, in movement, a back-and-forth between assertion and negation.To build or deconstruct, to dress or undress, to fill or empty, to wrinkle or fold, to light up or turn off-the artist is situated between these opposing forces that, according to him, combine rather than conflict. In these paradoxical connections, the works offer infinite propostions.

The colors of black

Black, as a color, is the cornerstone of his work and is omnipresent in his process.

Far from being monochromatic, Andrianomearisoa’s black is one and a thousand colors at the same time. The all-black choice is a permanent challenge that urges the artist to reinterpret and renew the color unceasingly. Depending on the material, composition and lighting angle, his blackness unfolds in endless nuance.

« For me it is a challenge. In every piece, i have to find various colors, different postures of black, »says the artist. « It is not only the color, but also an attitude that does not exclude the rest. It aims toward the universal. Black is amazing, disturbing, but it is present and makes sense everywhere. » Black can embody austerity and minimalism, but it gives the artist the freedom to deconstruct and disintegrate the structure of the work. Black gives him the freedom of exuberance.

The fabric of the dreams

From the beginning, textiles have been recurrent elements of Andrianomearisoa’s work. As he extracts all their possibilities, he gives the materials a polyphony that becomes language, the language of a material that lets itself be split up, folded,creased or mixed.

The variety and superposition of fabrics in his tapestries give them an architectural density that recalls stone. « I like the flexibility of the fabric, which allows all the combinations through tying, weaving, cutting, matching. It carries a language that can go very far, » he says.

The recurrence of fabric may echo the lamba, the ubiquitous textile form of Madagascar. It is a garment in daytime and a blanket at night, and also a shroud to wrap the body. The way one wears the wrap, its material and its number of stripes indicate social position, age and origin.

La vie dans les plis *2*( Life in the folds )

Andrianomearisoa is always on the edges. He does not approach his work in a direct way, but places it at the edges of the desires of whomever discovers it. His work comes down to a question of posture. He listens to the pulses of life with more generosity than they are given, and finds a way to be present in the world dans le nu de la vie, in the nude of life.*3*

Urban space is a primary interest as well. The noises, smells, images, lights and incessant movement that generate city life compose his universe without imprisoning him in a specific geographical space. His images take viewers to places even the artist does not expect to be. « I need to be surprised by images. The situation has to be completely staggered. I do not consider myself as a photographer ; I am someone who makes images, » he says

To compose a work, the artist needs a basic frame. Then the experiments begin, the manipulations that outline the project. « The work arises from various manipulations that lead me to the final result. When I set up an installation, I do not imagine its finality. I know the elements that compose it, but in the intant I set them up I discover something else. And that is when the work makes sense, » Andrianomearisoa says.

His poetic virtuosity lies in his capacity to seize this moment of signification, when nobody can tell beginning from end.

ENDNOTES

1 ALL QUOTES COME FROM JOËL ANDRIANOMEARISOA, INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, NOVEMBER 2007

2 THIS PHRASE COMES FROM THE TITLE OF THE COLLECTION OF POEMS BY HENRI MICHAUX, LA VIE DANS LES PLIS, REV.ED ( 1949 ;REPR.,PARIS : GALLIMARD, 1990).

3 THIS PHRASE COMES FROM THE TITLE OF THE NOVEL BY JEAN HATZFELD, DANS LE NU DE LA VIE ( PARIS : SEUIL,2002).

JOËL ANDRIANOMEARISOA

Jean Loup Pivin. 2001

Joël Andrianomearisoa croise les genres et les styles : il ne se veut ni couturier ni architecte ni vidéaste, ni designer, ni artiste et pourtant il souscrit au travail du couturier, de l’architecte, du vidéaste, du designer ou de l’artiste. A travers son intuition, apparaît ce mouvement de fond qui traverse les expressions artistiques de notre époque, celui de faire là où on a envie de faire sans autre souci de faire, laissant de côté la carrière spécialisée. Avec le costume et le corps comme points de non retour pour habiller le présent. Un costume cousu, un tissu teint, une image de papier, un film numérique, une matière d’acier, de laine, de bois, de béton ou de coton filés, pour que défile au cœur de la société, le temps, son temps.

Joël Andrianomearisoa se permet de rêver en volume et en matière, un rêve régulier comme une équation mathématique. A la fois intuitivement et intellectuellement, il coud le béton et burine le textile dans une présence de ses rêves découpés au cordeau pour les corps sensuels qui s’y glisseront. Des corps ondulants dans une architecture rigoureuse comme un Mies van der Rohe.

Dessiner et coudre : remettre le corps au centre. Un corps, mille corps qui rêvent et qui rient, qui posent et s’exposent aux autres, sans aucune gène ni fausse pudeur. Joël coupe et découpe une géométrie de l’abstraction, pour une réalité de chair et d’esprit.

Le textile est là , l’image, le bois et le béton aussi, à plat comme un dessin à y glisser son corps et ses rêves. Les regards perdus dans la certitude de la séduction, de l’amour et de l’amitié. Les têtes élégantes, fières ou déférentes, douces ou rudes, d’aujourd’hui comme d’il y a vingt ans ou cinquante ans ne gardent rien d’autre que la propre liberté de chacun dans le monde à être dans son temps, dans son humanité. Antananarivo, la ville capitale de Madagascar, avec ses mille visages et regards vit son devenir à son rythme comme à celui des autres villes du monde. Paris. La libération des pays comme des peuples passe par la libération des rêves de chacun.

Joël Andrianomearisoa vit et travaille à Paris.

DISCOURS DE ROSELYNE BACHELOT-NARQUIN, MINISTRE DE LA CULTURE, PRONONCÉ À L'OCCASION DE L'INAUGURATION DE L'ŒUVRE AU RYTHME DE NOS DÉSIRS DANSONS SUR LA VAGUE DU TEMPS

Roselyne Bachelot. 2022

Monsieur le préfet, cher Thomas Campeaux,

Monsieur le président du Centre des monuments nationaux, cher Philippe Bélaval,

Cher Joël Andrianomearisoa,

Mesdames, messieurs,

Chers amis,

 

C’est un immense plaisir d’inaugurer, ici, parmi vous, la première œuvre, issue du programme de soutien à la création artistique Mondes nouveaux. Vous connaissez tous cet appel à projets et ses modalités originales de soutien à la conception puis à la réalisation d’œuvres artistiques.

Cette méthode était inédite : c’est un programme qui a été imaginé pour que tout parte des artistes, de leur vision et de leur sensibilité, en leur permettant de créer au gré de leurs envies, de leurs besoins et de l’avancement de leur pensée, de leur travail ou de leur inspiration. En un mot, ce programme offre aux artistes – seuls ou en collectifs – de laisser libre-court à leur imagination, par-delà toutes les classifications habituelles de disciplines. Et il leur offre ensuite, également, l’accompagnement nécessaire pour venir à bout de leur projet.

Avec plus de 3 200 projets déposés après le premier appel à manifestation d’intérêt, je me réjouis de constater l’intérêt que Mondes nouveaux a suscité auprès d’artistes de tous âges, de toutes provenances et de toutes disciplines…

Je tiens, ici, à souligner le travail remarquable effectué par tous les membres du comité artistique, sous la coordination de Bernard Blistène. Leur expertise et leurs regards passionnés ont su retenir les projets les plus prometteurs, en assurant une précieuse diversité. Je tiens à les remercier d’autant plus que la crise sanitaire n’a aucunement émoussé leur engagement ; elle n’a fait, bien au contraire, qu’en renforcer la pertinence.

Chers amis, ce moment est particulièrement précieux et émouvant, puisque l’œuvre proposée par Joël Andrianomearisoa est la première concrétisation de ces Mondes nouveaux – qui renforcent la place des artistes au cœur de nos paysages et de nos monuments.

Cette œuvre, intitulée Au rythme de nos désirs, dansons sur la vague du temps, est une injonction poétique à l’action et au mouvement. Les lettres ne sont plus couchées sur le papier, mais elles se dressent dans un face-à-face – un tête-à-tête presque intimiste – avec le spectateur. Elles instaurent un dialogue singulier avec celui qui les observe. Car cette œuvre monumentale, ces onze mots inscrits dans le métal – et je cite là Bernard Blistène – se dressent « comme un souhait inextinguible d’établir une relation à celles et ceux qui les regardent ». Mais l’adresse qui nous est faite, cette apostrophe de métal, est bien différente des typographies géantes qui rythment d’habitude nos regards, comme autant d’injonctions à consommer.

Ici, c’est une invitation pleine de poésie, à la fois très intime et éminemment visible, une forme de dentelle et pourtant monumentale, une invitation à la rêverie tout autant qu’à la danse…

Joël Andrianomearisoa réinvente ainsi la place de l’œuvre d’art et celle des paroles de l’artiste-poète dans la société.

Et ce n’est pas anodin que cette œuvre soit présentée au grand public dans le cadre de l’ouverture de la Cité internationale de la langue française. Cette concomitance montre l’effervescence artistique de l’espace francophone, dont vous êtes, cher Joël Andrianomearisoa, l’un des brillants représentants. Et elle incarne l’ambition que nous avons pour les artistes en France, à la fois témoins des mutations sociales, éveilleurs de conscience et passeurs de rêves.

 

Je vous remercie.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Ministre de la Culture

Mr Prefect, dear Thomas Campeaux,

Dear Philippe Bélaval, President of the National Monuments Centre,

Dear Joel Andrianomearisoa,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It is a great pleasure to inaugurate, here among you, the first work from the New Worlds artistic creation support program. You are all familiar with this call for projects and its original modalities of support for the design and production of artistic works.

This method was unprecedented: it is a program that has been imagined so that everything starts with artists, their vision and their sensitivity, allowing them to create according to their desires, their needs and the progress of their thought, their work or their inspiration. In a word, this program offers artists – alone or in groups – to let their imagination run wild, beyond all the usual classifications of disciplines. And then he also offers them the support they need to complete their project.

With more than 3,200 projects submitted following the first call for expressions of interest, I am pleased to see that New Worlds has attracted interest from artists of all ages, backgrounds and disciplines…

I would like to acknowledge the remarkable work done by all the members of the artistic committee, under the coordination of Bernard Blistène. Their expertise and passionate looks have retained the most promising projects, ensuring a precious diversity. I would like to thank them all the more because the health crisis has in no way dulled their commitment; on the contrary, it has only strengthened their relevance.

Dear friends, this moment is particularly precious and moving, since the work proposed by Joël Andrianomearisoa is the first realization of these new Worlds – which strengthen the place of artists at the heart of our landscapes and monuments.

This work, entitled Au rythme de nos désirs, dansons la vague du temps, is a poetic injunction to action and movement. The letters are no longer laid out on paper, but they stand in a face-to-face – an almost intimate face-to-face – with the viewer. They establish a singular dialogue with those who observe them. For this monumental work, these eleven words inscribed in metal – and I quote Bernard Blistène – stand “as an inextinguishable desire to establish a relationship with those who look at them”. But the address that is made to us, this apostrophe of metal, is very different from the giant typographies that usually punctuate our looks, as so many injunctions to consume.

Here, it is an invitation full of poetry, both very intimate and eminently visible, a form of lace and yet monumental, an invitation to reverie as much as to dance…

Joël Andrianomearisoa thus reinvents the place of the work of art and that of the words of the artist-poet in society.

And it is not insignificant that this work is presented to the general public as part of the opening of the Cité internationale de la langue française. This concomitance shows the artistic effervescence of the francophone space, of which you, dear Joël Andrianomearisoa, are one of the brilliant representatives. And it embodies the ambition that we have for artists in France, both witnesses of social change, awakeners of conscience and purveyors of dreams.

Thank you.

Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, minister of culture

LES HERBES FOLLES DU VIEUX LOGIS

Françoise Docquiert. 2022

Les herbes folles du vieux logis c’est le titre choisi pour sa dernière série par Joël Andrianomearisoa. Un titre emprunté au poète malgache Maurice Ramarozaka et à son recueil,  lui qui pensait la poésie comme une manière d’être et de vivre à travers les géographies multiples.

Cette nouvelle série en trois temps –  dessins au pastel, peintures textiles,  carré de fils de soie dorés sur cotonnade – est l’occasion d’évoquer une nouvelle fois l’une des constantes de l’œuvre de l’artiste : l’alliance et  le dialogue avec cette matière originelle  que sont les tissus, liée à sa terre d’origine et dont il se fait fort d’être l’héritier .

Premier temps : des dessins d’herbes colorées au pastel. Si le noir si cher à l’artiste semble envahir ces herbes folles, d’autres plantes s’y entremêlent en les repoussant, presque. Leurs gammes chromatiques atténuent les foncés, assombrient les clairs, déterminent un jeu de tonalités vibrantes. Toutes sont dotées d’une énergie jaillissante. L’emploi du pastel joue sur la lumière comme Joël Andrianomearisoa rêve qu’elle doit le faire. Avec ses dessins, l’artiste y transcrit là deux violences conjuguées, celle du mouvement et de la couleur dont il connait les pouvoirs.

Ces pastels sont suivies, dans un second temps, de grandes peintures textile. Elles reprennent la fascination de l’artiste pour ces supports presque insolites pour la création plastiques –  tissus, papiers de soie…-  auxquels il a conféré une noblesse nouvelle tout au long de son oeuvre et tout particulièrement avec son installation de fins rideaux noirs pendant du plafond I HAVE FORGOTTEN THE NIGHT, à la Biennale de Venise en 2019.  Les toiles des Herbes folles  sont de superbes variations où l’artiste inscrit toute une sémantique nourrie de formes presque géométriques évoquant des grattes ciels  et nourries par le noir de la nuit. En hauteur, les couleurs travaillées en bandes verticales  obéissent à une pratique presque sérielle. Les ors, les beiges, les bruns, les verts ont des tonalités lumineuses et fragiles et jouent sur des effets de transparence amplifiée par la nature même de la matière. L’artiste intervient au niveau de chaque coloris développant ainsi une tessiture de nuances atténuées, mélange de terre et de matière plus sensuelles. Le textile se plie magnifiquement à ses variations de relief et forme des incisions et des couleurs où se révèle un reflet de la matière et en ressort une âme.

Troisième temps Volamena (or en malgache), des œuvres de plus petit format réalisées à partir d’assemblage de fils de soie d’or. Leur volume évoque des chevelures folles, des entrelacs de mèches coupées, pourtant entravés dans un carré ou plutôt un rectangle d’une rigidité presque terrifiante. Un contraste voulu par l’artiste qui est passé maître dans la mise en forme de ces surfaces changeantes, presque mobiles saisies au vif de leur mouvement même minime et par le jeu incessant des matières avec la lumière.

Avec cette série, Joël Andrianomearisoa joue sur de belles alliances plastiques, entretenues comme des respirations qui se déploient dans un espace presque musical. Il allie là la transparence à la peinture et invoque sans faillir la liberté d’essai, d’épreuve et d’expérimentation dont il est coutumier. Les alchimies violentes, patientes, puissantes des trois phases du travail ont une splendeur muette qui témoigne une fois de plus de la vitalité de son esprit créatif, d’une vivacité d’imagination sans cesse renouvelée et d’une poésie en hommage à ses racines.

Françoise Docquiert

Les herbes folles du vieux logis is the title chosen by Joël Andrianomearisoa for his latest series of works. A title borrowed from the Malagasy poet Maurice Ramarozaka and from his collection, the one who considered poetry as a way of being and living across multiple geographies.

This new series in three steps – pastel drawings, textile paintings, squares of golden silk threads on cotton fabric – is an opportunity to once again evoke one of the constants of the artist’s work: the alliance and the dialogue with this original material that are fabrics, linked to his homeland, of which he makes himself the heir.

First step: pastel drawings of colored grasses. If the black, so dear to the artist, seems to invade these wild grasses, other plants intertwine, almost repelling them.

Their chromatic ranges attenuate the darks, obscure the lights, determine a set of vibrant tones.

All are endowed with a gushing energy.

The use of pastel plays on the light as Joël Andrianomearisoa dreams it should. With his drawings, the artist transcribes two combined violence, movement and color, of which he knows the powers.

These pastels are followed, in a second step, by large textile paintings. They represent the artist’s fascination for these almost unusual supports for plastic creation – fabrics, tissue papers… – to which he conferred a new nobility throughout his work and in particular in the installation of thin black veils hanging from the ceiling of I HAVE FORGOTTEN THE NIGHT, at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

The canvases of Herbes folles are superb variations where the artist inscribes a whole semantics nourished by almost geometric shapes evoking skyscrapers and nourished by the darkness of the night.

In height, the colors worked in vertical bands obey an almost serial practice. Golds, beiges, browns, greens have bright and fragile tones and play on transparency effects amplified by the nature of the material.

The artist intervenes at the level of each colour, thus developing a range of attenuated nuances, a mixture of soil and more sensual substance.

The textile bends magnificently to its variations in relief and forms incisions and colors where a reflection of the matter is revealed and a soul emerges.

Third step Volamena (gold in Malagasy), smaller works created by assembling golden silk threads. Their volume evokes crazy hair, intertwining cut locks, yet framed in a square, or rather in a rectangle, of an almost terrifying rigidity. A contrast desired by the artist who is a master in shaping these changing, almost mobile surfaces, captured in the heart of their movement, even minimal, and by the continuous play of matter with light.

With this series, Joël Andrianomearisoa plays on elegant plastic alliances, kept as breaths unfolding in an almost musical space.

The artist combines transparency with painting and invokes, without failing, the freedom to try, test and experiment that he is used to.

The violent, patient and powerful alchemies of the three phases of the work have a silent splendour that, once again, prove the vitality of his creative spirit, the constantly renewed liveliness of imagination and a poetry that pays homage to his roots.

Françoise Docquiert

AU RYTHME DE NOS DÉSIRS DANSONS SUR LA VAGUE DU TEMPS

Bernard Blistène. 2022

« Le plaisir du texte a été évincé par le désir du sexe et la mission des écrivains consiste à les réconcilier ». Marc Gendron

1

Joël Andrianomearisoa est artiste. Je veux dire par là qu’il n’est à mes yeux ni peintre ni sculpteur, ni dessinateur ni poète, ni vidéaste ni photographe mais qu’il est tout cela à la fois. Andrianomearisoa est artiste et me permet de m’approcher encore davantage de la si belle assertion de Nietzsche selon qui « l’art nous est donné pour ne pas mourir de la vérité ».

Andrianomearisoa est artiste et réalise ici une œuvre de commande qu’il installe un temps, au cœur du château de Villers-Cotterêts ; une œuvre de commande pour un site en passe de devenir la Cité Internationale de la langue française. Ici, Andrianomearisoa nous apostrophe en français et nous invite : AU RYTHME DE NOS DÉSIRS /DANSONS SUR LA VAGUE DU TEMPS.

2

Il ne saurait y avoir de processus linguistique, explique subtilement le philologue italien Cristiano Leone, sans qu’il n’y ait le fondement d’un rapport à l’autre. Il ne saurait y avoir qu’une seule perspective dans la langue et c’est parce qu’il le sait et l’écrit que Andrianomearisoa nous livre ses textes, comme un souhait inextinguible d’établir une relation à celles et ceux qui les regardent.

Andrianomearisoa le rappelle à l’envi : il veut intégrer le texte à l’architecture. Il souhaite qu’il fasse corps avec elle. Ce n’est pas tant qu’il veuille lui donner une physionomie monumentale. Ce n’est pas tant qu’il veuille le faire rivaliser avec ces mots et slogans qui nous assaillent au quotidien, comme autant de messages qui sont d’abord des injonctions non pas tant pour communiquer mais sans doute pour conduire à consommer. Voyez les enseignes, voyez les affiches et leurs typographies ! Et c’est sans doute pourquoi Andrianomearisoa veut redonner la parole à la poésie et pour se faire, lui donner visibilité et présence nécessaires.

3

Ce désir, on le sait, traverse notre modernité et Joël Andrianomearisoa nous rappelle combien le poète malgache d’expression française Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo a voulu, au fil de son œuvre, témoigner de façon profondément mélancolique de ce lien nécessaire à tisser. Tisser est d’ailleurs bien un verbe qui prend ici sa pleine signification. Andrianomearisoa ne nous a-t-il pas fait comprendre combien son rapport au texte et à l’architecture s’est d’abord construit de la broderie et de mots qu’il avait fait naître sur le tissu ?

Mais ces mots qui s’échappent du papier ou de la surface sur laquelle ils sont tracés, dessinés, tissés, qui en appellent à la plume de « l’action restreinte » ailleurs décrite par Mallarmé, sont aussi ces mots qui, de Rimbaud à Marinetti et à tous ceux qui viendront depuis lors – je songe au territoire immense de la poésie visuelle – ont imprimé au propre comme au figuré, la volonté de « mots en liberté ». Souvenez-vous des « naissances latentes » du Sonnet des voyelles et après lui du Coup de dés comme de ces textes qui s’émancipent de la page et vous comprendrez !

4

Le travail de Joël Andrianomearisoa s’inscrit là. Dans cette perspective qui n’est pas métaphore mais d’abord spatiale : une perspective qui, dès lors que le texte s’intègre à l’architecture, prend une autre dimension et, pour reprendre la parole de Bernard Heidsieck « se redresse de la page ». Les mots et les paroles d’Andrianomearisoa, ses phrases qui forment autant de poèmes en prose et de vers libres à la recherche d’autres voies et de lignes de fuite, trouvent au gré des cadres sur lesquels ils viennent se poser en s’appuyant sur les lignes de métal auxquels ils se fixent, un écho à celui de notes venant s’inscrire sur une portée. Ils appellent d’abord à les lire. Ils sont une matière taillée à vif dans l’acier et viennent apostropher le regardeur pour tenter de rêver un ailleurs.

Ils sont aussi une injonction. S’il nous faut « danser sur la vague du temps », c’est que ces mots incitent nos corps à se mouvoir, à retrouver après la pénitence, la joie du mouvement dont le confinement des deux dernières années nous a privés. Ils en appellent certes à la danse mais d’abord « au rythme de nos désirs » car le désir met le corps en mouvements, tend vers quelque chose ou quelqu’un, engage au risque et à l’inconnu, nous exacerbe. Il est dynamique. Il est un appel à la jouissance qui nous met face au vide, à « la Chose inter-dite » dont a parlé Lacan avec l’intelligence joueuse d’un usage des mots qu’il est seul à manier.

5

Aussi, je vois dans l’injonction poétique devant laquelle nous met Joël Andrianomearisoa, comme l’expression d’une quête ouverte vers un ailleurs inconnu. « Presque-songes » dit un recueil de poèmes de Rabearivelo que Joël m’a montré et ne cesse de souligner. Andrianomearisoa – on le voit et le lit – veut parler avec le monde. Ses mots, ses brides de phrases, ses textes sont souvent courts. S’ils s’échappent du papier pour devenir ces lettres taillées à vif dans le métal, ils se fixent dans une typographie toujours identique : le News Gothic MT Bold, suffisamment lisible et propre à l’édition tout au long du XXème siècle, créée par Morris Fuller Benton dont les caractères incarnent l’avènement de la typographie moderne. Je veux le rappeler ici pour dire combien Andrianomearisoa vient offrir ici une lecture affranchie du geste initial de la main qui l’a tracée, et souligner combien le devenir de la lettre et du mot taillés comme des sculptures confèrent ainsi à l’ensemble, une autorité plastique indéniable.

AU RYTHME DE NOS DÉSIRS / DANSONS SUR LA VAGUE DU TEMPS traduit à la fois la volonté de formuler un espoir et le souhait de son accomplissement. Il s’agit d’abord de la passion de dire et d’écrire. Il s’agit encore d’exprimer par les mots, à une échelle qui défie la communication, comme une passion suspendue. Celle d’un monde à reconstruire au cœur duquel la parole de l’artiste cède au plaisir du texte, ce « plaisir du texte » dont Roland Barthes dit bien que « c’est ce moment où mon corps va suivre ses propres idées – car mon corps n’a pas les mêmes idées que moi ».

 

Bernard Blistène

THE WAR OF THE SENSES

Jean Loup Pivin. 1997

The war of the senses – Joël Andrianomearisoa

By Jean Loup Pivin . 1997

Joël is twenty. He hasn’t had time to have a professional past yet but he does have a past, even though his young teenage body could lead you to believe otherwise.

At the age of twenty you know how to refuse, especially when circumstances and your own desires give you a step back from social convention. Especially when you know that this society will never accept you for your ability to assimilate, but rather for your talent for protecting yourself from it.

Joël does not answer the question « what do you want to do ? » (with « when you grow up » implied). A question that negates the objects he creates now, as though he was being forgiven for his excesses in the belief that they are merely errors of youth or intuitive objects of chance conceived despite himself. True, Joël is starting out and his future will not necessarily be more inventive or mature or waning, like the market or museum preservation can judge for certain confirmed artists. Like many other people, Joël makes objects and his objects have the quality of invention and poetry. It’s a question of attitude more than career. And that is no doubt where the charm lies, like with Edouard Rajoana in a very different register.

Autodidact ? Objectively speaking, yes and no. After school he only went to the private Art School in Tana for three months, he hasn’t travelled any further than the neighbouring Ile de la Réunion and a very recent trip to Paris for three weeks. Research and a quest more than any kind of training, sharpened by constant experiments and his desire to always look at things with a new eye: in Christiane Ramanantsoa’s acting troupe where he acts and creates the costumes and sets; at the Adeva, a European Union project on design and craftwork, run by two French expatriates, Nadine and Pierre Paris, where he is a permanent consultant. He also has fun making jewellery out of strings and old iron, exhibiting in craft fairs without selling anything, decorating a nightclub or a flat, or being a performance designer by covering his models in earth.

He has few references. They are intuitive and constructed from the imagery taken from magazines and books from foreign cultural centres, friends, street scenes, town and village life: the cloths, forms, techniques, attitudes, smiles and anger of all those around him.

And this is the strange thing, or at least the kind of thing that seems to link up with what we saw in Cameroon, Dakar, Cuba and virtually every other country (but not wanting to make a theory out of it) : Joël’s production and artistic attitude are beyond space and within his own time and could just as easily come from a New Yorker, a Carioca, a Kinshasan or a Parisian. Without wanting to explain for the sake of explaining, one could think that this is a kind of proof that world urban culture is perhaps more constructed and real than we think, that human characters are so deep that no cultural specificity seems to be able to constrain them. And yet Tana could be out of this world with its standstill time, its urbanism, climate, peoples, traditions and way of life.

Beeing an artiste …

Can one be the object of criticism, analysis or a biography at the age of twenty ? Is it rational to acclaim a young man who, driven by media attention, will think he is… what he isn’t or who will become what others would like him to be ? Consequentially, once the newborn flame has been blown out, disillusion and bitterness settle in the heart of the now cursed artist.

Not answering these questions is indispensable, for we are touching upon a double problem: firstly the problem of the nomenclature who fill artistic creation with codes : through the lack of confidence it has in each initiative or new desire – and the age of the initiator is now irrelevant – the society of experts, the media and « authorities » spends its time burying expressions on the pretext of passing them through the treadmill of time, its trends, a certain circle, the convention of pseudo-knowledge and normative training. Is it not possible to be the creator of a unique work with no antecedents and no continuation, to resume Julien Gracq’s anger ? Can we predict the future by analysis of the past alone ? Is it not possible to be a new man with each new project ?

Those who need curriculum vitae should stop reading now and await the improbable.

The second problem is the pressure which the art world exerts on artistic production that has to be inspired and fabulous. Without these epithets it does not even deserve to be registered in History or an art market: not taking into account the fundamentally humble and banal aspect of the artistic act. Transforming simple individualities into pseudo-geniuses, the weakest of whom will truly believe that is what they are. Being an artist is not a job or a career, even less a state, it is a society’s way of qualifying someone who once had the grace to charm or intrigue people with the things he made with his hands, words and body. Whatever the field, (writing, singing, painting, sets or costumes) the moment of creation is the moment when the very nature of the person living it blooms or materialises. The quality of this moment, the only important one, is not linked to its uniqueness or its being inscribed into any kind of continuity. Talking about Joël today means talking about Joël today. In his town, in what he brings to his sleeping world, with disconcerting appropriateness and freedom: design, direction, costumes, writing and above all a certain behaviour, an attitude that could be called poetic. He creates without trying to define himself as an artist or a designer. He creates for the fun of making, unmaking and remaking, endlessly inventing or borrowing from Madagascan forms.

JOËL ANDRIANOMEARISOA, UN MATIN D’ÉTÉ

Jean Loup Pivin. 2008

Joel Andrianomearisoa court aux quatre coins des expressions dans le bruit de l’art d’aujourd’hui. Contemporain ? Probablement dans l’expression parfaite de la fin des barrières des disciplines.

S’il y a un fil à tirer dans les travaux de Joël Andrianomearisoa c’est l’espace, l’espace des performances, l’espace des vidéos et des corps, l’espaces de tapisseries et des textiles, mêlés de deux sensualités, l’une, improbable, totalement désincarnée qui replie sans cesse son carré fondateur, l’autre qui touche des corps dont l’esthétique a tout à voir avec une beauté incrustée dans notre inconscient. Amusant d’utiliser ce mot indéçant de la « beauté » pour évoquer ces corps noirs et blancs de la nuit, la caresse sur une plaie ouverte renversant les attendus que sans cesse le carré noir fondateur va remettre dans sa géométrie du plaisir.

Regarder la liste des travaux de Joël Andrianomearisoa montre une suite prolifique où le doute est souvent absent quelle que soit la nature de ce qu’il fabrique : il a 19 ans quand il fait la couverture de Revue Noire Madagascar avec la photographie d’une de ses performances. Puis s’empilent ensuite toutes les expériences autour du carré alors qu’il fait ses études d’architecture à Paris : le textile, le costume, l’installation, et toujours la performance. De l’ARC du Musée d’Art Moderne à Paris, à Sydney au Musée des Beaux Arts……, Pascal Marthine Tayou l’intègre dans son – Fun Five Fun Story – où il se lie d’amitié avec Moshekwa Langa. Une bande amicale avec quelques autres, dont le petit jeune serait Joël. Aujourd’hui il sort d’un travail sur l’espace et la vidéo dans la direction artistique qu’il partage avec la chorégraphe Kettly Noel pour sa pièce Chez Rosette créée en juin 2008 pour Montpellier Danse et La Villette à Paris. Tandis qu’il commence un nouveau travail de collage papier où le noir qu’il associe toujours à la géométrie laisse parfois percer la couleur.

Joel avec ses affirmations pleines sinistres et joyeuses, n’a jamais été tenté par la gloire du Rien, mais avidement par la sobriété du Tout. Cela ne voudrait rien dire si justement les images et les espaces, l’univers de Joël Andrianomearisoa n’étaient pas là : donner au non discours, ce nouvel inconnu, une forme.

LIMINAL HORIZONS: JOËL ANDRIANOMEARISOA’S “WHEN THE DAY BELONGS TO THE NIGHT”

Neelika Jayawardane. 2016

Sabrina Amrani Gallery is pleased to present When the day belongs to the night, a project specifically created for India Art Fair 2017 by Joël Andrianomearisoa. The artist was interested in envisioning a project that speaks to Madagascar and India’s complex, and multiplicitous landscape of shared experiences, as well as to his own aesthetic interest in memory and nostalgia. The result is When the day belongs to the night, a triptych that is at once a monumental construction undergirded by intricate structures, a painting that experiments with fields of colour, and a tapestry that weaves together melancholia, remembrances, and personal narratives.

Andrianomearisoa grew up in Madagascar, a lozenge-shaped island that is still attached, in the depths of the ocean, to the continental plate of Africa. Yet it has a long and influential relationship with the Subcontinent – through trade winds, the three-cornered dhows, and sailors’ and traders’ adventuresome desires for what lies beyond. Madagascar is thus the embodiment of both influences: one side witness to the sunrise and the cultural pull of the Indian Ocean world, and the other, to the setting sun and the geographic proximity of Africa. One might also acknowledge a third horizon: that of Europe, -France and UK in particular as former colonial powers, drawing Madagascar’s and India’s gaze through their considerable influence.

On a slim island that lies facing north-northeast and south-south west, these monumental horizons – formed by sea, sky, sun, and political history – dominate one’s everyday experiences. In Andrianomearisoa’s work, we see that the linearity of the horizon also reveals the complexity of contact; it exposes the ragged edges of relationships that seem, from a distance, determined to define and delineate themselves from each other using clear and continuous boundaries. But in his horizons, there is an acknowledgement that the Subcontinent of India, Africa and Europe came together in this island outpost – a remnant of a broken love, sometimes acknowledged, and at others, denied, a connection maintained through a sea of tears, forgotten narratives, and intangible memories.

Andrianomearisoa is a trained architect who developed his knowledge under the tutelage of Odile Decq – one of the most esteemed female architects in France – at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris. The influence of architecture – and the artist’s interest in complex layers necessary for creating form and structure – is unmistakable in this triptych. Each section only reveals its intricate, underlying structure when one moves closer; it is only when we develop a relationship with the work that we notice that these three monumental “wall” structures are not impenetrable.

Each section of the triptych is about 3 meters in length and 2 meters high. The triptych’s monumental structure – and the fields of black, perforated by longitudinal mineral veins of gold – suggests a contradiction: it is both a formidable boundary and an invitation. It forbids our desire to enter, indicating an end to exploration and freedom; yet, at the same time, we are drawn to the wall of shimmering black and gold, attracted by the play of reflected and absorbed light.

In order to achieve density and depth in the sections that are black, the artist used new, black cotton cloth made in Madagascar. It was cut into three-centimetre by three-centimetre pieces, which were then affixed to the foundational structure of each part of the triptych, to form dark fields of mobile tiles. However, for the sections that appear gold in this triptych, Andrianomearisoa searched for texture and complexity, in order to project a field of many shades, rather than attempting to create a composition in a singular or pure colour. He favoured used materials, each of which bears the experiences of their previous owners – narratives that were inevitably threaded between the underlying structure of the fibres. Included in the gold sections are fifty scarves, each of which had a previous life and history, about ten metres of tablecloth and napkins, all of which were found in a second-hand market in Madagascar, and some sarees bought in Jodhpur, India. Finally, he also used a colourful material that is made especially for funeral shrouds in Madagascar. This funeral shroud, intermingled with other detritus of existence, reminds us that we, too – so enmeshed though we may be in the business of living and making gold and golden memories – will one day have use for this shroud.

Evident in Andrianomearisoa’s use of materials that speak of “dark atmospheres” – the black fibres, funeral shrouds, and materials with unacknowledged or forgotten histories – we note the artist’s interest in psychological undertows that often determine our attractions and aversions. In what appears to be fields of impenetrable blackness and melancholia, there also exist layers of multiplicity and complexity; what seems, from a distance, to be simple, monochromatic sections separated by clean lines are not so distinct from one another. As we move closer to the triptych, we realise that the walls of darkness – which we often fear and attempt to suppress – are always at play with a thousand shades of light and shimmer, texture and depth. We recognise that it is the liminal moments – where the gold intermingles with the black, when the day belongs to the night – that yield richer conversations with our own psyches. Our “shadow selves” – those dark histories that we often suppress into the subconscious, but nevertheless affect our daily decisions – are always with us.

Andrianomearisoa’s work allows us to understand that if we embrace the complexity and beauty of our gleaming shadow selves, if we have the courage to develop a relationship with all that seems unlovable within us, we may learn to relish the conversations that result from acceptance.

Joël Andrianomearisoa is the recipient of the IV Audemars Piguet Award ARCOmadrid 2016. His work, Negociations sentimentales Act V (Sentimental Negotiations Act V) was featured in the ambitious and critically acclaimed exhibition “The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists”, curated by Simon Njami, at the National Museum of African Art in 2015.

M. Neelika Jayawardane is an Associate Professor of English at the State University of New York-Oswego, and an Honorary Research Associate at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa). She was a senior editor and contributor to the online magazine, Africa is a Country, from 2010-2106. Her writing is featured in TransitionsContemporary&, Art South AfricaContemporary Practices: Visual Art from the Middle East, and Research in African Literatures. She writes about and collaborates with visual artists.

L’OUTSIDER

Simon Njami. 2012

Joël Andrianomearisoa est venu à l’art comme d’autres vont se promener. Balançant entre l’architecture et le stylisme qui vont le lasser, son attirance pour les formes pures, dépourvues de fonctionnalité immédiate, s’affirme très vite. La forme sera la matrice autour de laquelle s’articulera la création. Dans ses premiers travaux, on eut pu croire que la forme se suffisait à elle-même, organique et génératrice d’un sens auquel l’artiste n’attachait pas une importance primordiale. La forme comme esthétique en soi, comme manifeste d’une inspiration qui refusait, paradoxalement, de se laisser enfermer dans un quelconque discours. La forme comme unique discours donc, manifeste d’une liberté de créer qui s’affranchit des questions récurrentes auxquelles sont confrontés les artistes qui n’appartiennent pas à l’histoire européenne. Un espace dans lequel on est libre de dire sans avoir à démontrer son identité. La forme comme unique forme d’universalité. Une espèce d’existentialisme artistique qui ferait précéder l’existence à toute essence. Cet objet est brai puisque je l’ai créé, et il porte en lui-même, comme une indicible évidence, sa propre justification.

Il y a, dans cette attitude, une indéniable urbanité. Non pas au sens classique du terme, qui faisait référence à une certaine éducation (quoi que), mais dans le sens urbain du terme. Il existe ici une manifestation de ce que je nommerais la contemporanéité élective. Celle qui nous conduit à inventer notre famille, non pas en fonction de données biologiques, mais selon des codes esthétiques et culturels, presque générationnel. Joël Andrianomearisoa est sans doute plus proche de l’artiste de Tokyo ou de New York que de l’un quelconque de ses compatriotes malgaches. D’où la difficulté qu’il y aurait à le définir, tant les références qui le font être sont entremêlées, contradictoires, parfois. Si l’on regarde l’évolution de son travail, depuis ses premières œuvres textiles directement inspirées par sa période styliste, jusqu’aux « sculptures plan » qu’ils explore aujourd’hui, l’on s’aperçoit rapidement qu’il n’est attaché à aucune technique particulière et que, comme un alchimiste à la recherche de la pierre philosophale, il n’hésite pas à faire main basse sur toutes les formes qui pourraient apporter une autre couleur à son univers plastique.

Photographie, installations, performances, vidéos, sculptures, au sens le plus large du terme, il est prêt à tout envisager, dès lors que l’outil choisi serait le plus à même de traduire son état du moment. Comme un compositeur qui s’appliquerait à pratiquer le plus grand nombre d’instruments possibles pour en savoir la sonorité et les spécificités, il explore les possibles, sans souci de fabriquer une œuvre à la cohérence évidence. Une œuvre dont on pourrait, dire au premier coup d’œil, qui en est l’auteur. Ce qui démontre sans doute, mieux que toute démonstration savante, le trait particulier de son caractère : un trait commun à tous les artistes contemporains qui n’entendent pas se limiter à une zone de confort commerciale et attendue. Je nommerai ce trait de caractère schizophrénie.

Le schizophrène, en termes cliniques, est un fou. Mais rappelons-nous, avant d’aller plus loin, que Antonin Artaud, Van Gogh, Nietzsche ou Nerval, pour n’en citer que quelques uns, avaient rangés dans cette catégorie. Sans appartenir à cette frange de l’art brut que les Américains nomment, avec une certaines ambiguïtés les outsiders, ils furent bel et bien perçus comme des êtres à part. Eugen Bleuler, qui est à l’origine du mot, s’appuyant sur la théorie freudienne, sera celui qui donnera de cette affection la définition qui semble la plus adaptée à notre propos. En effet, selon ce dernier, les notions de personnalité, de soi, de relation du sujet au monde (intérieur et extérieur) jouent un rôle considérable dans cette « maladie ». Si nous comprenons bien les propos de Bleuler, il apparaît que nous pourrions appliquer cette définition à tout être contemporain. La contemporanéité, à mon sens, c’est le renoncement à toute forme d’identité exclusive, à toute forme de nationalisme et d’essentialité. L’être contemporain se meut sur plusieurs dimensions, est fabriqué par de multiples expériences parfois contradictoires, et c’est précisément ce qui fait sa force : il ne se laisse enfermer dans aucune prison identitaire, et son rapport à autrui comme à soi-même s’en trouve complexifié. Lorsque l’on voudrait le catégoriser par rapport à telle ou telle partie de sa biographie, il s’en échappe pour resurgir ailleurs.

Et au-delà, je reviendrai ici sur le terme outsider, qui contient tellement de sens, pour l’appliquer, non pas au travail de Joël, mais à la manière dont il se perçoit dans le milieu de l’art. Il semble toujours vouloir se maintenir à la marge, pour ne pas tomber dans le quotidien d’un métier dont les différents aspects matériels ne correspondent pas à l’élan poétique et désintéressé que l’on prête en général aux artistes. Attitude aristocratique qui consiste à refuser de produire selon l’air du temps et le discours à la mode. Créer un espace original qui n’obérait aucune si ce n’est celle du plaisir initial de faire. Comme si le ponde devenait un vaste champ d’expérimentation où aucun tabou ne serait. Mais sous l’apparente légèreté des propositions de l’artiste se cache une quête que, par pudeur, il n’affichera jamais. Une double quête, plutôt, qui interroge l’essence même de ce que nous appelons art, et de son rapport à l’être intime, à la vie. Etre un outsider permet d’être à la fois dedans et dehors, évoluant dans une zone indéterminée. Cela autorise, ultimement, la mise en scène de la dualité que Deleuze a perçu dans toute tentative artistique : « L’esthétique souffre d’une dualité déchirante. Elle désigne d’une part la théorie de la sensibilité comme forme de l’expérience possible ; d’autre part la théorie de l’art comme réflexion de l’expérience réelle. Pour que les deux sens se rejoignent, il faut que les conditions de l’expérience en général deviennent elles-mêmes conditions de l’expérience réelle ; l’œuvre d’art, de son côté, apparaît alors comme expérimentation. »

Il semblerait que la dualité évoquée ici par Deleuze ne concerne pas tant l’esthétique que l’artiste qu’est Joël Andrianomearisoa. C’est peut-être la raison pour laquelle, consciemment ou inconsciemment, Il tente, à travers ces « expériences » artistiques qu’il poursuit maintenant depuis quelques années, de faire fusionner l’expérience réelle et l’expérimentation, les confondant à travers le prisme de sa sensibilité. Cette géométrie froide qui semble ordonner son œuvre, ce noir dominant, cette apparente « cérébralité », ne sont peut-être là que comme autant de trompe-l’œil, qui masqueraient la sensibilité qui perce dans ses photographies ou dans la fragilité apparente de ses papiers sculpture. Le noir, comme le blanc, deviennent couleur, expressions polymorphes d’un monde en devenir. D’un monde que l’artiste pressent sans parvenir à le saisir tout à fait. D’où cette sensation de déséquilibre permanent, de tension entre l’objet réel et l’objet projeté qui renvoie toujours à autre chose qu’à ce qu’il nous est donné de voir.

Pourtant, à travers chaque œuvre, qu’elle prenne l’apparence d’une nonchalance dandy ou le sérieux d’une structure architecturale, c’est à une mise à nu permanente que nous assistons. Une guerre à jamais ouverte entre la pensée (vécue ici comme une sensibilité indéchiffrable) et l’objet qui est sensée la traduire. Une expérience bouleversante et en même temps régénératrice, puisqu’elle entraine à une renégociation permanente, à une remise en cause constante des évidences avérées. C’est dans l’espace psychologique de cette renégociation particulière que se construisent les éléments d’un nouveau langage plastique et esthétique qui intègre un jeu d’allers-retours permanents, dont la matrice forge ces êtres contemporains qui n’ont plus d’autre choix, pour ne pas devenir fous, que de mettre à jour, au quotidien, l’expression de leurs ultimes dualités. Cette expression, pour être vivante, doit être, comme le savoir nietzchéen, joyeuse et légère, comme ce bricolage qu’Ernst Bloch regrettait de ne plus retrouver les créations de son temps : « Mais nous prenons les choses au commencement. Nous sommes pauvres, nous ne savons plus jouer. Nous l’avons oublié, la main a désappris à bricoler. »

Chez Joël Andrianomearisoa, la main est encore à l’œuvre, et c’est d’elle que jaillit la forme.

ı Gilles Deleuze, Logique du sens, Paris, Minuit, 1969

2 Ersnt Bloch, L’esprit de l’utopie, Paris, Gallimard, 1977

EMBROIDERIES BY JOEL ANDRIANOMEARISOA

Diana B. Wechsler. 2018

Embroideries by Joël Andrianomearisoa

Papeles, telas y maderas son habitualmente los materiales de los que se sirve Joël Adrianomearisoa para llevar adelante su proyecto creador. Ellos son vehículo de la expresividad de sus obras, para la creación de tramas, texturas, volúmenes y formas. El espacio urbano es habitualmente el escenario que estimula su trabajo y a la vez donde se instala a modo de interferencia, intervención o presencia poética. En este caso, con su serie Embroideries, parecería que el estímulo procede de otros espacios, aquellos vistos desde el aire, en los trayectos entre Madagascar y Francia o España quizás, en donde la superficie terrestre se redefine a grandes rasgos, por planos, para describirse en los cambios de color y matices, en una paleta clara, arenosa, con algunos acentos de mayor intensidad que permiten intuir cierta orografía insinuándose. O en gamas de verdes o azules, en donde se sospechan zonas de vegetación o ruidosos mares. 

Esos planos -las superficies de tela en la obra de Joël- se presentan, a veces, atravesados por líneas más o menos sinuosas que remiten rápidamente -si seguimos con la mirada desde el vuelo- a los surcos que se trazan por el paso sostenido de caravanas de animales o gentes, o de ambos quienes en algún tiempo exploraron esos territorios para dejar hoy trazados aquellos dibujos en el espacio que retoma la mirada del artista.

“When the day belongs to the night”, es uno de los textos que se suman a este conjunto de superficies cuidadosamente bordadas, retomando una de las identidades del trabajo de Joël: la inclusion de textos. En este caso, si de lo que se trata es de registrar en el gesto del bordado las marcas de una práctica cultural artesanal, en los contrastes de negros y (casi) blancos, el día y la noche se encuentran, se corresponden mutuamente, como parte de la continuidad de una historia, como parte a su vez de la lógica del migrar en unos casos, del viajar, siempre, en donde permanece, de forma residual el tiempo del sitio de partida.

El espacio de estas obras aparece como una metáfora del espacio real, que es físico pero también cultural, y porqué no, también emocional, por eso, aquella otra sentencia que incluye en esta serie: “We were so very much in love”. 

Con cierta presencia melancólica dada por la localización en tiempo pasado de esa historia de amor, se reinscriben las puntadas de esos bordados en historias de espera y ausencia y a la vez de cierto encierro dado por la rigidez en la que están encuadrados cada uno de estos bordados, distinguiéndose de otros trabajos de Joël en los que las superficies se mueven en el espacio con el movimiento de quienes pasan, de la brisa, o del tiempo. Embroideries estaría más ligado a un tiempo de espera, de atenta contención a través de un gesto reiterado que va dibujando en esa espera los espacios transitados en otros tiempo. 

Acercándonos a las referencias de este nuevo proyecto, en sus palabras: “I was inspired by the malagasy poet Elie Charles Abraham, a great defender of nostalgia that he promotes specially during his exile and from where I borrowed the title of the exhibitions: the seasons from my heart. Landscapes and moods that change and pass, like out life, our society and specially our hearts”.Diana B. Wechsler. 2018

A PERFECT KIND OF LOVE

Murray Kruger. 2010

Joël Andrianomearisoa’s first solo exhibition at the Goodman Gallery Project Space, ‘A Perfect Kind of Love’, seduced me rather unexpectedly into taking seriously his sensual investigation into materiality. The gallery was transformed into a formal and conceptual meditation which utilized the potential of a range of materials and objects to evoke the power of the erotic as a tool to understand the complexities of desire. Cut Cute, a live performance that coincided with the end of the exhibition, underscored this and formed a crucial part of the exhibition. Staged in Fox Street, this ephemeral work also provided a necessary contemplative pause in SA Fashion Week’s Winter 2011 Collections’ proceedings at Arts on Main.

‘A Perfect Kind of Love’ was conceived as an installation of predominantly monochromatic relief works and sculptures built from soft, destructible materials such as paper and plastic. Love Letters, a stack of A4-sized black paper atop a slender plinth, is a poignant introduction to the material and sensual emphasis of the exhibition. The work prompts one to consider the quantity and the repeated monochrome surfaces of the pages on display. The scale of the work is intimate and invites close inspection, just as letters exchanged between lovers are perused closely and once read are treated as the artifacts of an intimate connection. A corresponding stack of paper is displayed close by on a gallery wall. One surface of each piece of paper in this stack of postcard-sized black cards is inscribed with the exhibition’s title in white lettering. It is difficult not to acknowledge the legacy of Felix Gonzalez-Torres in these paired works. However, whereas viewers were intended to become the ultimate custodians of Gonzalez-Torres’s paper stacks, Andrianomearisoa’s Love Letters are destined for the collector, a private exchange that Gonzales-Torres himself only ever made once when he personally sold a complete stack to a collector.

In a work titled Darling you can make my dreams come true if you say you love me too, Andrianomearisoa develops the idea of appropriation implicit in Love Letters with its allusion to Gonzales-Torres’ posters. Darling you can make my dreams come true… is a close grid of 150 found pocket mirrors mounted on the gallery wall. The black plastic flaps concealing the pocket mirrors within have been opened to varying degrees, flirting with acts of revelation and concealment and diffusing the boundary between the surface of the work and the space just beyond it. The mirrors add to the playful quality of the work, channelling a Minimalist impulse to activate the viewer’s awareness of their presence in relation to the art object.

Andrianomearisoa continues his strategy of appropriation and reconfiguration with Boys Cakes, a pile of 96 haphazardly stacked compressed paper bricks. The humble materials and the installation’s ‘impoverished’ aesthetic is an inadvertent nod to Arte Povera. The work has the feel of a ruin, or a collection of objects salvaged from some unknown catastrophe. Amongst the bricks that were not voided by black paint, emerged pornographic imagery of men engaging in sexual acts with other men. I could not resist interpreting Boys Cakes as a contemporary memento mori or vanitas. Gay identity has undergone major moments of crisis, particulary from the widespread threat of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS. Historical moments of trauma like this force us to consider our own mortality by realising the effect that individual action has on a collective body. Boys Cakes is a construction of sexual fantasy that goes hand in hand with a consideration of death. Lust and sexuality can no longer be considered private, and romance inevitably implicates more than two bodies. It seems that for Andrianomearisoa, love is almost synonymous, or at least analogous, with the body. Today both can be commodified and legislated, criminalized and marginalized. Love is a violent political territory, and this remains its attraction as the ‘bad boy’ of all emotions.

A sculpture titled Bondage Cage is unnervingly anthropomorphic. Attached to the gallery wall at approximately knee height, the work seems to cower in the viewer’s presence. It is only once one navigates around Bondage Cage that the structure of a metal cage is revealed behind the mass of tresses which are woven into it and hang from it. The cage appears at once burdened and empowered by the mane of ‘hair’ cascading down its side. With its strands simultaneously resembling braids and the leather extensions attached to whips found in S&M stores, the work is as threatening as it is reassuring. The potential for an intimate experience of the work is underscored by a more promiscuous impulse to caress and pull at it. The work highlights that an art object can induce both cautious restraint and a kind of fetishistic lust.

Le Labyrinthe des Passions (I-IV) (The Labyrinth of Passions), are four square black paper collages respectively, each measuring 250cm by 250cm. Audiences will be familiar with the material covering the surface of these works as tissue paper, the kind commonly found in the shopping bags of more expensive retail purchases. It is a notoriously fragile material, yet in his layering of it onto the square frames, Andrianomearisoa manages to use its tactile possibilities to sumptuous effect. These four works are a prelude to the exhibition’s centre piece, Le Labyrinthe des Passions. This installation of nine black paper collages made in a similar fashion to the aforementioned collages, was a climactic amendment to the gallery’s architecture. The work, consisting of three rows of suspended collage panels, created two passages large enough for viewers to walk through. Meandering through these two passages allows for the inspection of the reverse sides of the collages and for stumbling across an anonymous set of eyes and mouth on two separate collages. Slightly threatening, yet comforting in the way in which it embraces one’s presence, Le Labyrinthe des Passions continues the conceptual threads established by the other works on show.

Andrianomearisoa’s closing performance, Cut Cute was characterised by the same tension between threat and seduction that runs through the works on the exhibition. The performance draws on some of the performative conventions of catwalk fashion shows, in which human models simultaneously animate and become the stage for otherwise inanimate garments. It also emphasises the inherently architectural nature of fashion – items of clothing are soft architectures built to protect and conceal bodies. In this performance, Andrianomearisoa took twenty minutes to improvise dressing six models with a variety of black materials not typically associated with fashion.

I was one of the six volunteers to participate in the work as Andrianomearisoa’s models on the night. A large audience occupied the periphery of a rectangular territory, ordinarily a functioning section of Fox Street parallel to Arts on Main. The area was illuminated with multiple beams of light from overhead studio spotlights. An array of materials awaited the performance, placed strategically within the space by Andrianomearisoa. His inventory included fabric, gaffer tape, insulation tape, plastic packets, paper, ribbon of various widths and rolls of vinyl, all in different shades of black, with the exception of the rare inclusion of an unidentifiable white material. Within moments of the soundtrack starting, an edit compiled for Cut Cute by Andrianomearisoa and collaborators from Paris, he began his transformations. The performers were initially dressed in black vests, trousers and sneakers, while the two female performers climbed into imposing pairs of high-heels. Although I was unable to witness the performance from the outside, my first-hand experience of the materials’ ability to alter the performers’ bodies from their original states so forcefully was profound. As Andrianomearisoa used the performers as anchors in an increasingly full lattice of soft materials, our bodies became a collective unit. Each person’s slightest movement affected the stability of the others. These tenuous and tense connections did not last long though. As the music’s tempo started to suggest the nearing of the end Andrianomearisoa cut at the lattice calculatingly, separating us once again into individual units, now sporting ensembles only an avant-garde couturier could fashion. With this we lined up for the final time, facing both sides of the crowd momentarily before marching off in single file. Our bodies became evocative traces of the performance’s fierce action, where the shifting nature of personal and collective identity was reconciled by an atmosphere of latent violence.

Cut Cute reconciled key elements from Andrianomearisoa’s diverse practice which spans architecture, art, fashion and textiles. The human body remains the locus around which these fields of interests gravitate. Cut Cute’s nod to the protocol of fashion shows is a subversive one, in which the artist visualises an undetermined and spontaneous narrative that goes beyond a premeditated authoritative vision. His process blurs the relationship between fantasy and reality because his well-staged spectacle acts out an uncanny and surreal drama of the work’s own making. Here the fragmented and strange relationships that he puts into play are joyously cryptic. The permanence of art and traditional notions of sculpture are questioned through offerings such as Andrianomearisoa’s, where the ephemeral or short-lived is privileged and performed. The gallery is left behind for an environment that engages a larger public, even though one could claim it has not yet overcome the former’s exclusivity.

Despite obscuring the autobiographical in ‘A Perfect Kind of Love’, Joël Andrianomearisoa still manages to deliver an authoritative exploration of the intimate and private that speak to broader understandings of love and sexuality. The exhibition and its accompanying performance’s articulation of interpersonal and material relationships, is necessarily obscure and tenuous. Yet the dark sense of humour embedded in some of his titles encourages the viewer to overcome any initial reserve and prompted unexpected explorations of his conceptual motivations. A consistent thread throughout both ‘A Perfect Kind of Love’ and Cut Cute was a strange sense of modesty. There was a recurring fragility that undercut his grander and more exhibitionist gestures, to the point where one could suggest that his production is remarkably unmonumental. At every turn there is an acknowledgement of transience and even entropic potential, either inherent to the objects’ construction or the deconstructive actions that Andrianomearisoa, paradoxically, uses as an act of creation. It is his transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary without the need to resort to illusion and trickery that makes his work truly beautiful.

THE FOLD

Delfim Sardo. 2018

The space of our life is neither continuous, nor infinite, neither homogeneous, nor isotropic. But do we really know where it shatters, where it curves, and where it assembles itself? We feel a confused sensation of cracks, hiatus, points of friction, sometimes we have the vague impression that it is getting jammed somewhere, or that it is bursting, or colliding.

Georges Perec, Espèces d’espaces

Joël Adrianomearisoa (Madagascar, 1977) develops his artistic work in the fine threshold produced by an indiscernible combination of personal references, allusions to Madagascar’s sociopolitical reality, a certain anthropology of the urban space, and haptic poetry. If the first of these themes is always indexed to his autobiography, and therefore compels us to a certain discretion, which is also inherent to his poetics, the anthropological, spatial and haptic issues he raises can be the object of some reflection.

In the Western world, anthropology of space has had a tradition that, in certain ways, is in opposition to a history of architecture that develops from image (Adrianomearisoa trained as an architect, he is therefore familiar with these issues), particularly obvious in the notion of spatiality advanced by Paul Frankl in the early-20th century (Principles of Architectural History: The Four Phases of Architectural History, first published in 1914), according to whom space is mostly an object of optical perception, a notion furthered by Siegfried Gideon in his Space, Time and Architecture (1941). This an idea of space anchored in visual perception — space as an image —, and one that disregards the body that brings space about, in the sense that space is perceived through vision, and therefore is a datum of experience. The notion of space as a construct arose with Henri Lefebvre, with the creation of representational spaces in which space was always seen as a secretion of the subject — either individual or social. It is upon this possibility that Joël Adrianoamerisoa’s oeuvre is built, in the sense that the sculptural or imaginal situations he creates — which are not limited to their objecthood — are always devoted to a perceptual construction that implies touch — or the anticipation of it. It is based upon this hapticity that Adrianoamerisoa offers the viewer a range of possibilities concerning the creation of intensities. In this respect, it is worthwhile to refer to Gilles Deleuze when he (in Difference and Repetition) notes that the notion of intensity does not exist in the Rationalist and Euclidean formulations of space, where it is possible through repetition.

In this exhibition, Adrianoamerisoa presents works that, in several ways, are declinations of the possibilities of constructing spatialities that, generated by a process of repetition, establish the several declinations of our lived space, which is anisotropic. In fact, this selection of large format pieces, and a sound work that reinforces the project’s spatial nature, proposes both an intensity based on repetition and a hapticity that emerges from the sensual sophistication of the rigorous choice of materials, from their achromatism, and from our craving to touch them.

Waiting for the seventh day that will bring us together in the first hours of the night (2011) is a sculptural set composed of twenty-one elements on a wall, shaping a tension between its material (paper), its near-weightlessness and the massiveness created by repetition (the iteration of paper sheets). This tension is antinomic; repetition, mass and weightlessness oppose in the creation of an interstitially that cuts across the entire exhibition.

The increasing density of the two components of Labyrinths of Passion Act IV and VI (2016) introduces the baroque intensity of the fold, or pleat, reinforcing once more the inevitability of assembling a spatiality from its negative, from the space that lies within it. This produces an intensity that is also made possible by the scale of the work — a monumentality that, nonetheless, is based upon the delicate nature of the work’s construction, tissue paper sheets are bound in folios that make up their density.

The sound piece Somewhere Over the Rainbow (2018) presents us with a sound palimpsest that combines fragments of urban sounds, the poetry of Jean Joseph Rabearivelo (a poet of Madagascar who died prematurely in 1937, and whom Sehghor considered to be the first African modernist), and songs from the artist’s personal memory, in a way repeating the methodology of layered accumulation of different semantic and perceptual levels we have identified in the previous works. On the other hand, the utilization of sound enhances the spatial hapticity of the project, establishing a poetics of space that is based upon an emotionality and contributes to the proposed intensity, while adding a political layer we can discover in the contrast between the camp choice of title, taken from the famous ballad Over the Rainbow, sung by Judy Garland in the movie The Wizard of Oz, and the political situation in Madagascar.

From the different planes of a proposal that is simultaneously aesthetical (in the sense of its plea for a sensorial cognition), spatially haptic and guided by a poetics that emerges from an individual anthropology, arises the fourth characteristic of his work: the persistence of liminality. We owe the concept of liminal space to anthropology; it results from Victor Turner’s appropriation of the interstitial nature of the rites of passage theorized by Arnold Von Gennep. Victor Turner focused his later works on this issue, and particularly on the performative nature of interstitial states, especially in social settings, and defended that these states — the tension between “what lies within” and an outlying shape, and how these fluid states imply a particular performativity — meant the end of the road for the modern concept of perspectival space. The performative space of liminality and its poetic potential are the field of post-modernity, as they refer to human, social, identity or merely subjective states that are not reducible to conditions, but only exist as fluid states.

The work of Joël Adrianoamerisoa is built upon this fluid and negotiated condition; in the interior of the density of his fragile material compositions, in the intensity of the black, within the baroque folds and pleats that produce the different widths of the space he proposes. We remember Perec, as he mused about life, “But do we really know where it shatters, where it curves, and where it assembles itself?”

I do not think so, but that uncertainty is the nature of life.

A Prega

O espaço da nossa vida não é nem contínuo, nem infinito, nem homogéneo, nem isotrópico. Saberemos precisamente onde se quebra, onde se curva, onde se desconecta e onde se junta? Sentem-se confusamente fissuras, hiatos, pontos de fricção, tem-se por vezes a vaga impressão de que se fecha em qualquer lado, ou que explode, ou que esbarra.

Georges Perec, Espèces d’espaces

Joël Adrianomearisoa (Madagáscar, 1977) desenvolve um trabalho plástico no fino limbo entre as referências pessoais, as remissões para a situação política e social de Madagáscar, uma determinada antropologia do espaço urbano e uma poética háptica que se cruzam de forma indiscernível. Se o primeiro destes tópicos é sempre indexado à sua autobiografia e, portanto, requer uma determinada discrição que é inerente à sua poética, as questões antropológicas, espaciais e hápticas podem ser objecto de alguma reflexão.

A temática da antropologia do espaço possui uma tradição no ocidente que, de certa forma, se opõe à história da arquitectura como foi desenvolvida a partir da imagem (e Adrianoamerisoa é arquitecto de formação e, portanto, familiar a estas questões), particularmente patente na visão da espacialidade que foi desenvolvida, logo no início do século XX por Paul Frankl (Princípios de História da Arquitectura: as Quatro Fases do Estilo, de 1914) , na qual o espaço é, sobretudo, objecto de uma percepção óptica, posição continuada por Siegfried Gideon em Espaço, Tempo e Arquitetura, de 1941. Trata-se de uma concepção do espaço vinculada à percepção visual – o espaço como imagem — que não é tributária do corpo que o instaura, na medida em que é pela visão que o espaço é percebido e, portanto, o espaço é um dado que é percebido por um sujeito. A questão do espaço como um constructo veio a definir-se, nomeadamente a partir de Henri Lefèbvre, como a criação de espaços de representação, sendo o espaço sempre uma secreção do sujeito – entendido como sujeito individual ou formação social. É sobre esta possibilidade que se exerce a obra de Joël Adrianoamerisoa, na medida em que as situações escultóricas ou imagéticas que cria – e que não se limitam à sua condição objectual – são sempre votadas a uma construção perceptual que implica o tacto – ou a sua expectativa. É a partir dessa hapticidade que Adrianoamerisoa abre ao espectador um leque de possibilidades de geração de intensidades. A este respeito vale a pena referir a forma como Gilles Deleuze (em Diferença e Repetição) refere que o grande ausente na formulação do espaço racionalista e euclidiano é a noção de intensidade, só possível pela repetição.

O conjunto de obras que Adrianoamerisoa agora apresenta são declinações, sob várias formas, das possibilidades de construção de espacialidades que, oriundas de um processo de repetição, instauram as várias declinações do espaço anisotrópico que é o espaço vivido. De facto, o conjunto de peças de grande dimensão, a que se junta uma obra sonora – e a utilização de som reforça a componente eminentemente espacial do projecto –, propõe em simultâneo uma intensidade assente sobre a repetição, bem como uma hapticidade que deriva da enorme sofisticação sensível da criteriosa escolha dos materiais, do seu acromatismo e da sua compulsão ao tacto.

A peça Waiting for the seventh day that will bring us together in the first hours of the night , de 2011, é um conjunto escultórico em 21 elementos que ocupa a parede e realiza a tensão entre o material (papel), a sua leveza e quase imponderabilidade e a massividade gerada pela repetição – de conjuntos de folhas –, propondo-se como uma antinomia entre a repetição, o peso e a leveza, de certa forma instaurando a intersticialidade como o mote que acompanha todo o projecto expositivo.

O aumento de densidade das duas componentes de Labyrinths of Passion Act IV e VI, 2016, introduz a intensidade barroca no sentido da dobra, da prega e, mais uma vez, reforçando a inevitabilidade de construção da espacialidade a partir do seu negativo, do espaço que fica entre, e que gera a noção de intensidade que é, também possibilitada pela escala do trabalho – uma monumentalidade que, no entanto, assenta sobre a delicadeza da manufactura, do papel de seda reunido em fólios que constroem a sua densidade.

A obra sonora Somewhere Over the Rainbow, 2018, propõe um palimpsesto sonoro que junta fragmentos de sons urbanos e da poesia de Jean Joseph Rabearivelo (o poeta de Madagáscar prematuramente falecido em 1937 que Sehghor considerava o primeiro modernista africano) e canções da sua memória pessoal, de certa forma repetindo a metodologia de acumulação em camadas de diferentes níveis perceptuais e semânticos presente nas obras anteriores. Por outro lado, a utilização de som explicita a hapticidade espacial do projecto, estabelecendo uma poética do espaço a partir da sua emocionalidade e contribuído assim para a intensidade que é proposta, ao mesmo tempo que acrescenta um nível político – no contraste entre a escolha camp do título da famosa canção (Over the Rainbow) cantada por Judy Garland em O Feiticeiro de Oz e a situação social de Madagáscar.

É esta possibilidade de, a partir de vários planos de proposta simultaneamente estética (no sentido do seu apelo a uma cognição movida sensorialmente), espacialmente háptica e orientada por uma poética oriunda de uma antropologia individual, que se afirma a quarta característica do seu trabalho, a persistência da liminaridade. A noção de liminal space é oriunda da antropologia e resulta da forma como Victor Turner apropriou o carácter intersticial dos ritos de passagem teorizados por Arnold Von Gennep. Victor Turner veio a concentrar a sua obra tardia nesta temática, sobretudo a partir da natureza performativa das condições intersticiais, nomeadamente em termos sociais, vindo a defender como esta condição – a do “entre” e da forma como esta condição fluida implica uma performatividade própria – são o fim da noção moderna de espaço perspetívico. O espaço performativo da liminaridade e a sua potencialidade poética seriam o campo da pós-modernidade na medida em que se referem a condições humanas, sociais, identitárias ou meramente subjectivas que não são redutíveis a condições, mas a estados fluidos.

É sobre esta condição fluida e negociada que se estabelece a obra de Joël Adrianoamerisoa, no interior da densidade das suas composições de materiais frágeis, na intensidade do negro, no interior das pregas barrocas que produzem as diferentes espessuras do espaço que propõe. Como perguntava Perec sobre a vida, “Saberemos precisamente onde se quebra, onde se curva, onde se desconecta e onde se junta?”

Creio que não, mas essa incerteza é a sua natureza.