Episode 13: The Ideal


Opening Wednesday September 10, 2014, 5-9 pm
Exhibition until Saturday October 4 by appointment

"Ideal form interests me because it's an impossibility," explains American Paul Gabrielli (1982) who we've invited for the 13th episode of Middlemarch. The impossible is something he consistently seeks out, "I'll have this idea of what I want and somehow, somehow think it already exists in the world, and I go searching for it but never find it, and have to make it, in the end. The ideal that I already have in my head, I need to bring it to life somehow."

This unconditional search for an absolute calls to mind the thinking of fin de siècle French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907), and the Belgian painter Jean Delville, creator of the review L'Art idéaliste (1897-1898). Seeing themselves as demiurges, called to fulfill a social, intellectual, artistic and sometimes even religious mission, they tear down the border between art and life, frequently becoming theoreticians of their own visions.

To acknowledge these historical precursors, we have integrated two emblematic works on loan from Eric Gillis Fine Art: the print La Cathédrale by James Ensor (1860-1959), who theorized his own creative quest – L'Art Ensor, and Jules Van Paemel's (1896-1968) La Tour de Babel, a timeless work addressing an iconographic theme dear to artists, a symbol of their desire to assemble a universal knowledge.

To these two tutelary figures, as well as Paul Gabrielli, we've added the Americans Graham Anderson (US, 1981) and Richard Tinkler (USA, 1975) and the French painter Romain Poussin (1986). All entertain a particular, almost obsessive, relationship with their work. Their sense of time is one of slow maturation in the studio, of introspection, of permanent renegotiation with themselves.
All three share a deep commitment to craftsmanship in the realization of their works. Paul Gabrielli creates sculptures that look like assemblages of manufactured objects but, upon closer examination, reveal themselves to be meticulously fashioned, almost imperceptible works of trompe-l'oeil. Graham Anderson makes fastidious pointillist paintings that leave the canvas largely exposed, allowing for no margin of error. Richard Tinkler produces an enormous quantity of drawings according to precise rules as well as a system of classification and repetition that, according to the artist, "are an attempt to escape from freedom, (...) in a time when we are told that we can do anything we want." In just as singular a fashion, each of Romain Poussin's painting is produced in a series of two, added to the stock of painted works, and further manipulated and combined, to form a subtle, changing corpus of pictorial charades.

The delicacy and the concentration with which they work do not result in showy or overly seductive works, nor demonstrations of conceptual perfection. On the contrary, one frequently finds imperfections, unfinished portions and blind spots in the work. What preoccupies them is too important to be clearly stated, too ambitious to be reduced to simple illustration.

This extreme attention in execution is essential, however, for these young artists, who hold art in high regard, higher even than themselves. Flaubert, in a letter to Louise Collet dated 21 May 1853, wrote, "A soul measures itself in proportion to its desire, as we judge a cathedral before seeing it on the height of its bell tower."

Graham Anderson, born 1981, lives and works in New York. He has recently exhibited at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery, New York, Nice and Fit, Berlin, White Columns in New York, Andrea Melas & Helena Papadopoulos in Athens. He was artist-in-residence at Wiels Contemporary Art Center in Brussels in 2011. He is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York.

Paul Gabrielli, born 1982, lives and works in New York. His work has been exhibited in institutions and galleries both internationally and domestically, including the Cartier Foundation, Paris, 303 Gallery and Eleven Rivington, New York, the Verge Gallery, Sacramento. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Cartier Foundation. His work has been featured in ArtForum, The Paris Review, Art Review, Mousse Magazine and City Arts, among others. Paul is represented by Invisible Exports Gallery in New York.

Romain Poussin, born 1986, lives and works in Brussels. He is cofounder of the project space Apes&Castles opening in October 2014 in Brussels.

Richard Tinkler, born 1975, lives and works in New York. He's currently in the three-person show The Rosebud Roar at Re Institute, an artist run space in upstate New York, as well as the group show Tomorrow's Man opening August 30th, 2014 at Thaddaeus Ropac Salzburg, and curated by Jack Pierson.

  Graham Anderson, James Ensor, Paul Gabrielli, Romain Poussin, Richard Tinkler, Jules Van Paemel, Middlemarch, Brussels