Julien Segard’s solo exhibition goes on show at Experimenter, Ballygunge Place
Experimenter, Ballygunge Place recently opened a solo exhibition of Julien Segard’s most recent works, which takes a peek into the ‘transient, haphazard and disruptive world’, as seen through the eyes of the New Delhi and Marseilles-based artist.
The exhibition, called A Second Coming, showcases a wide variety of artworks and installations, ranging from paintings and watercolors to metal and wire structures and numerous miscellaneous remnants of a modern city-life, which doesn’t always have a name.
He chooses unconventional objects; scavenges through the streets of Delhi and collects malleable scrap metal, cloth, wood, paper, bone, plaster, and stone, to turn them into art objects through the processes of ‘construction, destruction and reconstruction’. He sometimes presents a contradiction of ideas, while at other times, connects a thing or an object perceived locally to a larger, universal truth.
Three watercolor paintings in midnight blue- called Hexane, Heptane and Octane, follows the pre-Columbian painting tradition, which depicted socially relevant motifs in small pictograms. Similarly, Julien connects the larger events happening in the country or in the world with whatever is happening around him, in day-to-day life. “In this triptych, I tried to show the contraction in the semantics of the painting and the technique/application. Each pictogram is related to whatever is happening in India; it’s not random. Though it looks like a bit of an apocalypse, it’s a happy one, which still has joy in it,” says Julien, the artist.
Another very prominent artwork, which catches our attention, is the number of framed drawings/ paintings of different kinds of chairs, adorning one singular wall. The artist’s fascination with chairs is deeply rooted in his affinity for the streets, of which he is a frequenter. “When you are outside, you see different kinds of chairs everywhere you go. While some have been discarded after use, others are mended for reuse. Each chair speaks about the inhabitants of the place,” shares Julien.
“Chairs are also a symbol of power- not just in political terms- but in the sense that- one who has a chair has a place in the society-he is not on the ground.” “The chair can also be the point-of-view of a painter, as it offers you a chance to observe whatever is happening around you,” he adds.
A huge work, called Najafrgarh is another one of the attractions, which spreads across the entire wall in an unamassable proportion. The work, as the artist, points out, tries to capture an area on the outskirts of Delhi, which has the biggest sewage pipes flowing through it. “For me, these spaces are very interesting, as they fall somewhere between the natural landscape and the urban infrastructure and depicts the difference in speed of the city and the country life. This piece was somewhat created in an organic way- it started with a piece of paper and it kept growing- with whatever I collected from there-cardboard, wood or paper.”
“I also expanded the work through drawings, where each segment depicts a different time span looking at the place, through different viewpoints. I tried to make it look like a fresco- of a growing banyan tree on the wall,” adds Julien. It is accompanied by small-objects like figures called les-choses, a ceramic structure which was used to isolate electrical cables long back and now stands for the remains of the society.
We see a constellation of different objects, suspended from the ceiling through strings, as the next installation- which creates shadows on the wall. A series of charcoal drawings, depicting the city architecture, seen through fragments, make up the next series. This particular series preceded the Najafgarh and sees the work in its dismantled form, the artist tells us.
We see a marked influence of the Art Povera movement of the 1960s, in all his works- and its basic philosophy of creating the ‘form’ with simple elements- and finding a relationship among the hitherto, unrelated objects gathered or introduced in a series.
He uses wires and structures, resembling pieces of architecture like a singular wooden frame of a window pane, without the glass or isolated metal frames, with a thick cable passing through it- as art installations too, reminiscent of the familiar concept in India, called ‘jugaad’.
Julien is a modern-day flaneur, although not perambulating directionless, but finding ideas and inspiration in the streets. He still chooses to call himself a contemporary artist but one who lives in today and asks questions about whatever is happening around him.
A Second Coming to be on display at Experimenter, Ballygunge Place till July 26