Damien Mazières

Text from the monographic catalogue, printed out for the exceptional personal expositions of the projects from the CAPC in Bordeaux and the Zoogalerie in Nantes.

 The vision that Damien Mazières has on our contemporary urban cities could be the one of an alien visiting earth after all human life has been extinguished. All is desert, silence, stillness, captivation. The housing, the administrative cities, the roads, all these structures invented by or for humans appear in his paintings like places unused, untouched where all notions of identity, discursion, relationships, history have been eradicated.

Remain only lines, frames, settings, rhythms, empty spaces and wild colours. The very diverse geometrical signs that outline the urban environment reveal themselves brutally and coldly, just like the structures that enable the channelling and the distribution of men in out of space or the different systems of distinction and wainscoting: parkings, buses, bars in TGVs, conference rooms or buildings are seen like layouts of cages in which you only have to settle into. It leaves a very figurative and curious painting, empty without any story, simply depicting a feeling of drowsiness and lethargy.

The city and the urban landscape, completely numb and deprived of their functions seem suspended in time.

The signalisation sheets instruct nothing: the lights are neither red nor green; the windows are neither open nor closed. The artificial lights and the unreal coloured sky deliver an uncertainty of which time of day it is. If on the one hand everything conjures a general atmosphere, on the other hand nothing is human in these pictures. There isn?t the slightest trace of human activity. Everything evokes abstraction. It is a contemporary reinterpretation of the mysticism of an artist: if long ago, geometry was the subject of adulation, a transcendental quest, it turns out to be here an uneasy object, the foundation of alienation and normalisation.

This utopia vision, appears just like in the paintings of Peter Halley, of prison bars; seen like the principal outlines of our contemporary societies: abstraction seems to have lost all its illusions.

Furthermore, regarding pictorial art, he has singularly descended from his pedestal. The mediums used are simple (cardboards, pieces of wood), the lightings of the rooms of bleu and yellow neon lights give a certain colour to the paintings, a gloomy and sinister aspect that evinces all brightness of the oil painting.

Damien Mazières also produces films through video projection. These extremely slow motion movies only let appear evanescent geometrical forms, similar to video pictures in which the light ? and the hybrid status- disturb the vision that we have of other paintings. The images turn out to be more buoyant and disturbing, not only from a reference point of view but also from a formal point of view.

The singular work of Damien Mazières is created by the equivocal relationship that he has towards abstraction: he combines the two, without opposing them; thus the bridge between the science fiction world, that J.G Ballard defined as a space where the interior world of the mind and the exterior world of reality would connect and melt as one. It is highly improbable that Damien Mazières critics as harshly as Halley the technological and scientific societies or the postindustrial societies in which we live in.

His universe evolves around a mixture of realism and imagination, between awareness and unconsciousness (through dreams and nightmares); if his work is so disembodied, it is because they are not far from these hallucinatory visions that plunge us into gigantic spaces and deserts where it is impossible to measure, thus where we can never figure out the outlines, and even less where to live.

The landscapes that Damien Mazières paints are the complete opposites of the anthropomorphic spaces that depict for us the notions of progression (enter, exit) of time continuum (day, night; interior, exterior; activity, rest), of encounters, of choices, tensions, surprises, contradictions. If men are absent in these images, it is because they have left them, tired of moving in these immense spaces, compartmentalized and systematized, leaving the structures and the frames, the lines and the forms of the societies of the future, idealised and dreamed of by the moderns; maybe preferring another vision or form of utopia.

Elisabeth Wetterwald