Paris, France, 2012-05-07 -
Spiritual ground is the title of a new series of exhibitions which in the coming years will turn the Column Hall of the former Benedictine abbey into an exiting presentation venue for young international art several times a year. In this context, the eventful history, the political misuse and the heterogeneous use of the Abbey over the centuries represents a special challenge for the artistic contributions. The series starts with French sculptor Baptiste Debombourg who uses brilliantly crafted poetic object transformations to create atmospherically charged spatial arrangements that interact with this exceptional location and offer provocative socially critical statements about the consumer world.
In his home country, the French artist Baptiste Debombourg (*1978) is one of the most outstanding young artists of his generation. Meanwhile, numerous exhibitions in France and abroad have brought him international attention. In Germany, he and his works with their brilliant craftsmanship and provocative contents are yet to be discovered.
Debombourgs works are the result of poetic transformations. Using „Objets trouvés“ or the relics of consumption, the artist creates hybrids which negate any aesthetic of use and reduce the originally intended purpose to absurdity. The reuse and the redesign of the depleted in his sculptures is striking and points with skill and plenty of irony to the transience of the material and the metamorphosis of everyday life. Whether architectural floor plans with the shape of firearms, or utilitarian objects from our everyday life – the artistic intervention always makes the previously purely functional objects undergo a transformation which shows them in a completely different light, in another materiality and an entirely different meaningfulness.
Aérial too plays with the idea of destruction and new composition. Specifically conceived as an In Situ Installation for the Column Hall of the Abbey, the ground covering work in glass corresponds to the architectural, the historic and the spiritual character of the monastery, the originally religious function of which characterizes the architecture of the Column Hall with its groined vaulting and its dark granite stones to this very day.
Supported by a star-shaped wooden construction, Aérial flows like a monumental wave of broken glass into the room, carrying with it the light that passes measured through the windows. The crystalline structure of the Broken seems petrified, frozen in a moment of unrestrained movement. Like a church window, Aérial bundles, plays and changes the light. The ensuing reflections, transparencies and shadowings reflect the many different facets of a place steeped in history, the original function of which was literally overshadowed by different uses as beggar Institute, work institute, concentration camp, Cologne Gestapo prison and mental hospital.
The incoming light is particularly important as to the spiritual context of the Abbey. Since the dawn of history, people worshiped the light as the embodiment of divine presence and enlightenment; the heavenly glow played an important role in the construction of shrines, temples and churches. This belief was primarily expressed in the design of the windows which had its heyday particularly in the Romanesque and later in the Gothic architecture. The glass, a very precious material at the time, let in the sunlight, thus bathing the interior of the church with its coloured paintings in a never seen, almost unearthly light which created a spiritual connection between the sacred and the profane world.
All the same, the material chosen by the artist which we encounter every day in various forms of use, does not only reflect the complex layers of significance of light and transparency in the context of Christian iconography, not only does it mirror the disparate facets and functions of the Abbey during the course of time, but it also plays with the paradoxes of destruction and new creation in a place that is as complex and multilayered as the symbolism of the broken glass.
Artist statement / Baptiste Debombourg
All of my projects are somehow or other linked to an aspect of human relationships; our mistakes, our doubts, our desires, and the perceptions we have of some of our realities. My work is based on the exploration of the psychology we have in connection with objects, looking for an induction between reality and the ideal that we are trying to reach.
So I'm trying to analyse and I'm wondering about the sense of our acts (construction and destruction). I concern myself with personal tries that reveal themselves sometimes to be repeated failures. Full of good intentions, utopian or blinded by its own ego, the individual reveals his personal nature. The impression of impotence generated by situations and individuals are simply bringing to light the fragile and endearing nature of the human beings.
My research develops according to different mediums, materials, and mountings like wood, glass, staples, or even drawings. The inspiring influences come from everyday life and more specifically from the objects that are conditioning it. My reflection extends itself to the use of these objects and the behaviours they are causing, until the affective relationship we have with them.
I consider my artistic pattern like a meeting vehicle, a way to link sectors that usually ignores each other, the so-called “noble” and “popular” cultures for example. And for me it is also a way to examine the position and the function of the current art.
Curators of the exhibition:
Nadia Ismail M.A. & Dr. Astrid Legge