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L’appel du vide: Cyrille Conan

Carol Schlosberg Gallery

June 28, 2016 - July 22, 2016

Reception and Artist Talk: Thursday, July 21st, 5–7pm

Gallery Hours
M–Th, 10am–5pm
F, 10am–1pm

L’appel du vide, a solo-exhibition of Boston-based painter, Cyrille Conan in the Carol Schlosberg Alumni Gallery. Curated by Pam Campanaro, the exhibition celebrates the artist’s signature abstract vocabulary of mark making, collage, and textures that deconstructs and reconstructs an automatic, intuitive, and improvisational process.

Conan’s studio practice embraces intuitive and responsive mark making, an approach that parallels his own nature and mirrors his frame of mind. The artist says this allows for the paintings to generate as honestly and intuitively as possible, making them a kind of, “anchor to keep connected to realness and truth, like a meditation. There is less thinking and more reacting and building.” Each mark and layer informs and dictates the final composition that ultimately achieves a visual balance of form, color, and repetition. The artist uses a range of materials such as: painters tape, reclaimed wood, remnants of exhibition design, paint, and fabric to narrate the action of painting itself. L’appel du vide continues this method of dialectic making as the artist gathered recent work to “talk and respond to” in the creation of a new large-scale mural.

Conan’s latest, site-specific mural, Beilhan (to stay awake) (2016) emphasises and makes large, stylistic choices and the accumulation of mark-making found within his smaller paintings on board. Regardless of scale, Conan’s use of materials and textures defines his unique perspective; his signature, or handwriting, contributing to the larger narrative of painting. Roiñ penn da (to yield) (2016) and Moment of Hesitation (2015) flank the twenty-seven foot wide, grey gallery wall. These two paintings on board serve as metaphorical bookends to Conan’s painterly story, containing the artist’s mixed-media writing. The artist rips pages from his life as an exhibition and design preparator by appropriating materials from discarded exhibition remnants and mock-ups. Between Roiñ penn da (to yield) and Moment of Hesitation, Conan wheat pasted sample text from the MFA Boston’s current major exhibition, MegaCities, that investigates urban life in Asia. On top of the wheat pasted fragments, Conan taped off three rows of circles and semi circles in blue tape, as if to make zoomed in view of the smaller painting, Pelec’h emañ honnez? (Where is she?) (2015) resting just opposite the mural.

The title of the exhibition, L’appel du vide is a French existential phrase that translates to, “the call of the void.” The expression references a sudden, inexplicable urge to indulge or act on something despite knowing it would lead to unfavorable consequences, such as deliberately letting go of a fragile, porcelain vase or stepping out over the edge of a high point. Human internal censors ultimately override this impulse by rationalizing reasons not to do something, but the option or sheer possibility arises because our minds are built to be flexible and consider all options. Cyrille Conan’s practice mirrors that same flexibility and impulse to engage in an instinct. While we physically don’t act on the call of the void, the artist’s explores it within each of his compositions and as a result, to stand in front of Conan’s paintings is to be at the threshold of an alternate future.

Cyrille Conan is a French (Breton) born, New York City native.  He earned his  BFA in Painting from the Hartford Art School before planting his roots in Boston. While Conan’s  primary practice continues to be painting, he works in a variety of mediums and scales. He has produced site-specific installations and murals across the United States in addition to local galleries and public spaces in Boston, including The Cyclorama and City Hall. Conan lives and works in Roxbury, MA.