19 Jan Thierry Falisse – Orbis Factor
Du 18-02-2016 au 20-03-2016
Somewhere in the work of Thierry Falisse there is a form of silence, a muteness or the absence of words which, elsewhere, exist. However, the least one can say is that he tells stories. His images – essentially paintings, but also sculptures, photos and videos – seem to be a response to the silence that is produced by passing time. Thus, each of his works signposts an ensemble of family recollections, lived or constructed on the basis of verbal exchanges, photos, videos and objects steeped in memories. From 18 February to 20 March, Yoko Uhoda Gallery presents the exhibition “Orbis Factor”, for which he has designed around twenty new pieces, some of them the outcome of a trip to Korea, last spring, in pursuit of his origins. It was the conclusion of a long, slow process of encounter with unsuspected parts of his history.
The painting of Thierry Falisse is figurative and stamped with a certain realism, because of its facture, its relation to photography and its subjects, often taken from everyday life. Nevertheless, reality appears there more as a source of inspiration than as a completion in itself. The original images, sifted through the screen of intimism, become a pretext for painting. Art and reality thus meet in a fertile and existential exchange. These last ten years of work have seen him pushing his technique to extremes and committing himself to the path of a certain letting-go, open to quiet breakaways and making light of the accidents that are particular to the medium. Thierry Falisse maintains a voluntarily ambivalent relation with the canvas, where risk-taking flirts with control. Likewise, his thematic obsession with memory has really over this same period. Starting from an attempt to narrate death, as far as this can be done, it has been progressively enriched by an encounter with a culture, that of his origins. The tale of his background has thus gained substance: absence, exceeded, has been transformed into the rich soil of a love story with multiple faces.
This evolution can be considered by the measure of his artistic career. Three solo exhibitions marked these changes of course (although in a disordered manner): the first terrain investigated by Thierry Falisse is that of mourning. For several years, he commits to images, in grey tones and beneath a particular whiteness, the brutal death of one of his brothers. The grand finale of this work was the exhibition Reconstruction. Meanwhile, another approach opened up and saw his first experimentations: for one exhibition, the artist designs an installation based on family archives, essentially photos and videos, realized by his father in Seoul, at the start of the 1950s. On this occasion, the very objects are side by side with the works as tangible traces of the pictorial inspiration. Five months later, he brings together a few initial paintings produced at the commencement of these same recently discovered archives. They are, at this time, the fruit of a new desire, that of wanting to know more about his origins, that of discovering the Korea that he knows only through the filter of images and words. The artist takes a new turn: personal genesis is not only a motif anchored in the past, but becomes an engine of discovery. The exhibition that is being put together at the Yoko Uhoda Gallery could well be the grand finale of this work.
In a few words, here is the story: in 1950, the father of Thierry Falisse leaves for Korea, where he is to stay for three years, until the end of the war. In order to get there, he has just one contact, a priest living in Seoul. Once there, peacefully following an armed battalion, he starts to gather food scraps and redistributes them to populations in hardship. Progressively, he manages to bring together various aid workers and set up a dispensary and an orphanage. It is in this context that he meets his future wife, the mother of Thierry Falisse. This story has somewhat the effect of a legend, an original myth which the artist set out to trace. He went to the locations of snapshots now familiar from having successively held them in his hands and viewed them. He returned from his journey with new images, the prolonging of the myth, of his story of which he is the privileged observer.
The exhibition will probably open with this painting: Isabelle. This woman come to offer her assistance to the father of Thierry Falisse and whose benevolence shines through the glance exchanged with the mother. Further on, Jangdokdae is an evocation of the jars in which certain culinary preparations were preserved in the cellar during his childhood. The exhibition “Orbis Factor” will be built over two floors and will bring together paintings, photographs and sculptures. Among these, scattered throughout the space, large-format reproductions of piano keys form the word Disorder, which is also the title of the biggest painting in the exhibition. If asked, the artist will mention a form of social disorder which could be linked with his feelings as a young boy surrounded by 8 brothers and sisters. The fact remains that these two works, which are unassuming but are the exhibition’s most impressive, retain a certain mystery. Could they be the fruit of this feeling of chaos associated with every frantic course in the tangle of our filial backgrounds? Could it be that they evoke the opposite of the meaning that we give to our acts by putting them down to the continuity of a family tie? Might they already be telling what comes next?