GUILLAUME AIRIAUD, GAMES OBLIGED

An aesthetic developed without concern for constricting itself in a unique/univocal language, but which plays with a solemn revelry of multiple references will disorient the (overly) well-informed gazer. Guillaume Airiaud offers to entangle us in this very jugglery, this jungle. Yet there is nothing that lends to confusion in the artist’s operative precision. On the contrary, his talent for twisting catalogued, historic imagery inside a game open to disjunction entails taking what the eye knows, and turning it against itself. This demand imposed on the gazer requires a vast conceptual elaboration from the artist with little room for error.

His work is pervaded/pervades itself with Baroque syntagms ranging from the very obvious (the toile de Jouy) to the very simple (use of the classic perspective), to be inserted in an existing syntax bolstered by an aesthetic of discord. The same is true for the other depictions reunited in his installations, whether they borrow from the photographic mechanics represented by the eyepiece of Narcissus Vertigo, the vulgar (kitsch or chic) or the conceptual…Contiguity, omnipresent in his works, is manifested as only a seeming pattern of equilibriums. Above all, the artist/gazer bond put in perspective, the mobility of vocabularies and the reappearance of a close childish friend raise uncertainties about these befitting imaginations and thwart the potential of assimilation.

The recurrence of red, a mark of external dramatization (in the way a surface can be external), ironic dramatization, a (post-traumatic) post event, fosters a troubling strangeness in a scene that may have already been “played out”. It is up to us to fill in the blanks (historia) of this missing tale: the stylistic markers are as much components of Clue.
As such, this game introduces a model of interlocking elements: in this fictional epic that leads us to see what could easily be analyzed like quotes (Anthony Caro, Philippe Mayaux, rococo), lies the gazer’s ability to liberate his/her gaze from references and borrowed materials.

How can we un-inform ourselves, how can we neutralize the usual analysis grids to glide inside a work that seems to offer us an accumulation of analysis grids? Like with Russian nesting dolls, the outer cover of quotes becomes a surface reflecting emptiness.
The pursuit consists foremost of opening (ourselves) box after box, not of obtaining the final object.

Specifically, there is play involved in this act of boxing in: this sophisticated machinery at times reminiscent of the theater of Sade, sets a display of rituals no sooner desecrated, open spaces no sooner obstructed, vanitas no sooner juvenile… associations that are deliberately (and jubilantly) unstable.

We are confronted with a provocation of imbalances that neither sheds off lightness or seriousness: the fiction produced by Guillaume Airiaud unfolds like a space where things come together, fall apart and waver jealously. Perhaps this theatrical creation of an imperfect machine exploring the imperfection of the gazer thus forced to cast off a culture so solicited to the extreme, is exactly what constitutes the most Baroque aspect of these plays.

TRANSLATED BY JOOMI PAK