How do you exist in relation to Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) when you make sculpture? The Scottish artist Douglas Gordon (born in 1966), former Turner Prize laureate and co-author with Philippe Parreno of the cinematic masterpiece from the early 21st century, “Zidane”, on the invitation of the Giacometti Institute in Paris has simply established a dialogue with the ghost of his predecessor to create an accomplished exhibition at the very place that promotes and brings his memory to life (see here and here an other story about Douglas Gordon).
Dear, I know…
His exhibition also begins with a little handwritten note displayed at the entrance to the space saying: “Dear I know you are not there”. He based himself in a neighbouring 15m2 studio, let out by the Institute for the entire curfew period. The minuscule apartment overlooks the Montparnasse cemetery, home to the graves of the sculptor’s friends like Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.
The small studio
In this way he did, in a sense, get under the skin of the artist, who spent his entire life in a studio measuring 24m2, which you can also visit at the Institute.
He had heard about Giacometti back in Glasgow during his adolescence, when his teacher had recommended that he visit Paris if he wanted to become an artist. “I knew there was something special between Giacometti and myself, but I didn’t yet know what.”
His hands everywhere
Douglas Gordon is instinctive, with a piercing gaze. What he first saw in most artists’ works is that “everyone is trying to make you forget the hand in sculpture. The surface is polished, the fingerprints are erased. Giacometti, on the contrary, has his hands everywhere. He leaves marks on all the surfaces. You could even say that he wants to be caught. So that’s what I’ve done.”
The heroes of the exhibition
He’s delved into the sprawling archives at the foundation and established a dialogue with certain works and his own hands, moulded in bronze, wax or plaster. Douglas Gordon’s hands are the heroes of the exhibition. They keep a tight hold on little heads, tiny standing women who seems huge, an endless scrawny leg… He plays with materials, scales, and themes.
Catching with affection
He reinvents the way of seeing Giacometti. We could say that Douglas Gordon catches Giacometti, with affection. Because he discovered a number of affinities with him. Such as the fact that he was born just nine months after his predecessor’s death, in 1966, or that they shared certain books from their respective libraries such as Jean Paul Sartre’s “L’idiot de la famille”.
Sculpture in the broader sense
Douglas Gordon says, “I also make sculpture, but in the broader sense”. However he has also used his body as the basis for a multitude of illustrations and messages. Tattoos that transform him into a kind of moving canvas, or sculpture in the broader sense.
The immortality of the artist
On his hands, when he clasps them you can read: “Every mouth must be fed”. Why the hands? “It’s the last thing I look at every day before I go to sleep.” He’s entitled the exhibition “The Morning After”. At the Giacometti Institute his hands, roving yet fixed, are also a means of expressing the immortality of the artist.
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