François Morellet | DASH DASH DASH

Portrait pour  artforum

François Morellet | DASH DASH DASH

2 May 2015 – 22 August 2015

Blain|Southern is delighted to present DASH DASH DASH,an exhibition of new and historic works by the acclaimed French artist François Morellet. The artist has created two monumental site specific installations for the gallery’s vast 9,20 metres high and 39 metres long space in Berlin. Shortly following his 89th birthday, the exhibition is the first major display of Morellet’s work in Berlin since his 1977 solo show at the Neue Nationalgalerie, and will be held during the city’s Gallery Weekend.

In an unlikely pairing, Morellet manages to combine humour and playfulness with strict mathematical systems, making work which is whimsically titled, aesthetically uplifting and conceptually rich. He has worked with geometric forms throughout his long career and although he has employed a variety of media and techniques his interest in grids and planes remains constant.

The centerpiece of this exhibition, the new site-specific 3D Bandes décimées (2015) and 3D concertant (2015) are characteristic examples. These two large-scale vinyl installations cover opposing walls in the gallery’s groundfloor space. On one wall the artist has created a repeated sequence of overlapping vertical and diagonal lines; on the other wall these are repeated in negative form, creating origami-like shapes. Morellet plays with our visual expectations; planes and lines are tilted, symmetry is disrupted and geometry is altered. The result, as with much of Morellet’s work, is playful, beautiful and challenging, inviting the observer to engage intellectually as well as aesthetically.

Mounted on the outside wall of the upper exhibition space, is π Weeping Neonly (2014), an iconic Morellet work in neon. Comprised of 42 white neon lights, the work is arranged in a pattern that was determined by using the number π. The neon tubes are connected to each other by electric cables and joined to power transformers. The visibility of cables and transformers, and material in general, is an integral part of all of his works.

The upper space has been divided into two rooms, the first housing a suite of monochrome paintings. These works are produced with the same system as the large scale installation downstairs as the titles reveal accordingly, 3D concertant. The system used for the site-specific installation is evident throughout the whole exhibition. The second room contains a series of ‘neon paintings’ set against painted square canvases. They are arranged according to the lines and stripes of the monochrome paintings in the first room. Since 2005, Morellet has produced the series Strip-teasing in which the artist explores his interest in the ratios of lines. Lines can adopt different appearances depending on the medium in which they are executed: pencil, stripes, neon tubes or the demarcation line created by different colored surfaces. In Strip-teasing sur la pointe trames 75°-165°, 100°-190° (2006) the lines are painted as thick black stripes on one side and on the other in fine thin lines. While the thick stripes fill the most part of the canvas, the thin lines appear almost dematerialized. In 4 à 4 bleu toile brute (2012), the four neon tubes are fragments of two squares of the exact same size as the raw canvas on which they are set. Although the arrangement of the neon tubes appears random, the artist used a grid and the number πas a guideline for the composition.