Just a little bit more… exhibition – Laurent Perbos (F)

Opening: 11 June 2003

On view: 3 July 2003

About the works of Laurent Perbos

Originally, Laurent Perbos is a painter- he learnt paining and he did painting. He has not been working in this field for quite a few years, but painting has had a strong effect on his works even today. Practically, none of his works can be described with the expression “painterlike”, which is so trite in the art jargon. Within the oeuvre of Perbos, painting gets an extraordinary place- it is an important standing point of the formulation of the question inspiring the projects of the inventive artist, in which he is not interested in the paining representation and its history or its perception. His aim is the working out of artistic strategies that offer a way out from the nowadays too limited interpretation field, however, they are closely linked to the classical exhibiting situations. The motive power of his work is the permanent dialogue with the painting and, in general, with the basic agent of the traditional representational art genres, with the exhibiting situation, with the receptoral situation of the spectator and the work of art, and the reflexion given for it.

Dispersed painting

The scheduled bus is just drawing into the bus-stop, the passangers are getting on and off, and since everybody is running after his and her daily round, two young men sticks the latest work- a painting- of Laurent Perbos onto the end of the bus. Then, they launch the bus with this burden towards the next bus-stop… With this naive gesture, which is the first amoung the illegal public courses of action of Laurent Perbos, a poetic and basically philosophic question takes shape: Where do these paintings come from? What makes the young artist create new pictures in the contemporary culture, which is overwhelmed with visual information? And what is the source of those paintings?
It is his first work that deals with the problem of the putting of the painting in a favourable position and its appearance in the society. So, it comes from a very honest, personal and simple consideration: the thing what painting does has been withdrawing more and more from the reality experienced in the everyday life, which surrounds and only by the exclusion of which painging would be similar as it used to be in the beginning. The painting set free by this action becomes part of the permanent visual circulation again as the metaphor of the reciprocal effect of the popular and the upper visual culture on each other.

Among the projects of Perbos, which experiment with artistic strategies and that are inquisitive about the onthologic questions of the work of art, his project completed in 1997 takes a significant place. In this, he searches the answer for the naive question: What and how to paint? While the sharpe-eyed art expert has been making efforts to reconstruct the process of the creation in the exhibition halls, there is no doubt about the fact that Perbos is opened to the co-thinking and for him, the atelier is not an alchimist workshop of the genius of the 19th century, isolated from the outside world. Sparing no research accuracy has he been hunting for and collecting feature films, in which a painting turns up in the background or as the part of the story. After, he makes an attempt at the re-playing of the creative process when he paints the pictures found that way. He re-paints the fictive paintings, which exist just in a medialized form and which, actually, talk about the caricaturistic, sematic representation of the painting formed in the society.
He assembles the paintings finished this way as an installation, then, he makes a video, in which the parts of the films can be seen that have been thrown out by the film editor. The moments when the ominous painting turns up.
The way the pictures alternates, Perbos kept the original sound of the films. Thus, the relation becomes the main character of the work that becomes distinct between the paintings and the texts, the dialogues and the situations that can be heard and seen under them. The paintings following up each other and turning up in different contexts of the scenes outlines a coherent narrative, what speaks about the painting, to be more precise, an external interpretation of the painting, created by another media.
Among the projects prying into the identity of the artist and the relation of the art and the work of art of Perbos, he might have gone to the very end at his project “Painter competition”. He met an invitation for a painting exhibition by not putting brush to canvas himself but announcing an open competition, for which everybody could register who did painting on any level. Under the name and the exhibition space of Perbos, all of the artists’ paintings could be found who were attracted by the exhibition situation. Thus, he used his own collegues as “instruments” with the appropriation’s collective and almost impudent gesture in order to, finally, create a so-called painting. Naturally, the final object on the wall was not in a classic work-of-art relation with its fictive creator- Perbos, undertaking the role of the programme organizer and the player made an attempt to cover the wall of the exhibition hall with works of art.

Collective fantasmagories

The obsessive putting of the question of “Where do the pictures come from?” does not lead to the projects considering the media, the popular culture and its myths by accident. The wishes broadcasted towards and pressed on us, and Perbos’s research in the field of these idées fixe begot by these wishes inspires him to create fictive situations, which are intentionally naive metaphores of this wish fulfilment. He searches for the tangible impressions of reputation, fame and the results associated with them such as richness and success. And, since he falls short of the criteria listed necessary for being admitted to the portrait gallery, he simply adapt illegally to the emblematic visual situations.
In the capital of the film factory, Los Angeles, he smuggled his own photo into the photoes of celebrities put on the wall of a bar while wathcing the result and the time when the owner would realize and remove it. He even left his own name in one of the flasteroid stars remained empty in Hollywood Boulevard- under it, ironically, his trade’s coat of arms could be seen- a palette.
Connected to his above mentioned “contemporary-collective-wish fulfilment” projects, he created his sticker series named “The Walk of Fame”, in which he also made up ficitive spitting images of himself. These doubles were planned to receive the highest honours -by their extraordinary sports performance- of being found as photoes on stickers in chips bags or cheese boxes by the children. But finally, they did not receive these honours since no company distributing food was willing to put the stickers decorated with the photoes of fictive sportsmen wearing the anagrams of Perbos’s own name as their name into the package of their product.
In case you need a particular performance, there you are: Perbos set up the most absurd records one after another with the aim of having his own documenting stickers advertising his own name and performance and being in the corn flakes boxes legitimetadely as the non plus ultra of the expression of fame. Let us see just a few of his particular performances: the man wearing the most hats in the worls, the man wearing the most jackets in the world, the longest pea-line on a public domain…
An evidently critical attitude becomes clear in the ironic tone of the project since Perbos- still in a playful and nice form- questions cuttingly the real performances of the personalities generating the pictures of wish’s keeping alive. And with the aggressive gesture, by which Perbos wants to infiltrate into our everyday life with the track of his own personality, he claims back his place taken in the everyday lives of these performances and personalities. Even if his plan was not completely succesful, he, however, managed to set up an unquestionable record: he owns the most refusal in the world, which is a wonderful collection of the conceiling and gently refusing rhetoric idioms so typical for the business vocabulary.
In his project that has permanently been carried out from 1999, in which Perbos exhibits simple, everyday objects signed by famous people as works of art, he examines the role of the star cult and its legitimative limits. As the transcription of the duchamp gesture and in its contemporary version, the art’s role played in the society can also be questioned. It means that one artist’s signiture is not enough any more to raise a ready-made to the entity of a work of art. Only the representatives of the widely known glamoure appearing in the media are qualified to make this legitimative gesture.

Forcing inmteraction – sports
Laurent Perbos is a member of the incoming young artist’s generation of the ’90s – they do not believe in the radical manifestations of the ’60s anymore. Besides, they do not think that through their art, by its direct effect, significant social changes can be generated. Using gentle irony and hidden tone, which is free of ideology, almost every work of his expresses a strong interest on social issues. Some of his projects, objects and the situation, into which he puts the audience and the piece of art, have a strong political cognition. The fact that he uses widely known sports equipments in the series of his manipulated objects, is not coincidential.
What else could be a better standing point for his efforts in searching for the creation of new and new communicational situations with the audience than sports? For him, sports means the moments of delirious joy and play, and the stealthal introduction of the well-known rules of the medium into the white cube so foreign from the exhibition.
Through the table-tennis rackets fixed to the table and the ball-automat leaned against it, he intends to deprive us from our childhood frustration caused by always having to miss something from the game: the racket or the ball. However, the patroning gesture asks for its own price instantly at the beginning of the game, since you have to pay with your own freedom of movement in favour of the comfort taken to you- your opportunities are quite limited by the five-meter-long wire fixed to the table.
In his darts series, he creates three boards, playing on which you can only win. The enlarged target, the tiny spear fixed to the central point and the pyramid-like target field provides a real sense of achievement, but after having played for a couple of minutes, you realize that the victory given into your hands deprives you from the joy of playing what was the original purpose of the object.
Thus, the “simply” manipulated table tennis table becomes the metaphor of the existencional question putting by the little intervenience of Perbos. And, if you go on with the chain of ideas already in the media of art, it may lead you to the question of the art’s perception and to the basic problems that are concerned by most of the works of Perbos. The main idea of these problems is that the art what is easy to “digest” and rely only on the power of astonishment, operating with gegs takes away the pleasure of playing, the delirious joy and the investition of the work till the realization.

Let us comply with the invitation of Laurent Perbos – let us leave time to play!