Vincent Gicquel's paintings are the work of a comic who hints at all that is ridiculous and horribly banal in the existence of man. It is a comico tragedy, a work of mockery. In these paintings, man becomes the only subject, the unique vestige roosting in the middle of a world where everything seems to have disappeared. There is neither landscape, nor setting and nothing in particular that we can cling to.

In this universe deprived of illusion, man labors engrossed in the solitude of his task, in an ambience of general indifference where glances never cross or meet. He clings to what seems to have become the unique reason for his existence, what he is making. The mechanical aspect of his gestures, his pantomime deprived of sense, make insignificant all which surrounds him. In fact, because there is no world from which one can produce an image, nor any certainty to which we can subscribe, the painting has to give up any descriptive ambition.

Vincent Gicquels paintings derive from an exploration of the contradictory aspects of the facts, the paradoxical aspects of each of our acts. For him our existence is formed by a most impalpable substance which is that of the questions which remain unanswered. The destabilizing aspect in the face of this is our desire to understand.  In front of these paintings there is only one exit; to agree that everything shies away from our prehension, in which our search for a sense is irrevocably in vain.

The reasons for which these characters struggle, and the actions they execute are not of any great importance, what is important is that they do something. What is important is the effort they produce to survive.  This is where humor becomes indispensable; the ability to laugh is all saving. One of the keys which allow us to approach these works is their comico-tragic structure. Vincent Gicquel's laughter is a revolt of the spirit against the absurd. Laughter derived from a philosophy of life "sub speciae ironiae". A mockery resulting from an awareness of the human condition. Everything is entertainment, a diversion from death. Each of these paintings becomes a point of incidence of a reflection; the faithful mirror of reality in which man reflects.

Vincent Gicquel
Born in 1974
Lives and works in Bordeaux


Qu'est-ce que je fais là ?, Galerie Thomas Bernard / Cortex Athletico, Paris
Solo Show, Carlier Gebauer, Berlin

Vincent Gicquel - fétiches Vaudou, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris
Brothers in Arms, galerie Carlier Gebauer, Berlin
C'est pas grave, La Criée centre d'art contemporain, Rennes, France

As-tu vraiment besoin d'aller là-bas ?, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris

Incontinence, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux

Conviction, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux

La belle affaire, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux


Masterpieces 2, Galerie Thomas Bernard / Cortex Athletico, Paris

Résistance, with Sanya Kantarovsky, works from a private collection in the program Chambre à part, galerie Felix Vercel, Paris
Back to the Hood, La Mauvaise Réputation, Bordeaux
One Long Changing Body, carlier | gebauer, Berlin
Debout, François Pinault's Collection, Couvent des Jacobins, Rennes, France
Images manquantes, Galerie Escougnou-Cetraro, Paris, France

Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Grand Palais, Paris, France

The Past is the Past, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Paris - exhibition views HERE

Artgenève, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Geneva - exhibition views HERE

Artbrussels, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Brussels - exhibition views HERE

Artbrussels, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Brussels - exhibition views HERE
Fiac, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Grand Palais, Paris - exhibition views HERE

Matériaux divers et autres bonnes nouvelles, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Bordeaux - exhibition views HERE

LISTE - the young art fair, Galerie Thomas Bernard - Cortex Athletico, Basel - exhibition views HERE


Collection Pinault
Artothèque de Pessac - Les arts au mur
Centre d'art Chasse-Spleen

Interview with Marie Canet the 28th of August, 2009

Can you tell me about your relation to painting? In what manner does it satisfy the fabrication of your images?

I think I adopted oil on canvas for its « classical » side. In each of my paintings, I insist on the unalterable character of things, on the fact that nothing has ever changed and nothing will. Painting is in temporal, it appeared with the cavemen and has got through all revolutions; my painting questions the man, his destiny... A judicious choice which resembles to a bad choice... to play with all those small insolvable contradictions. I love all those things which we cannot really define, which slip continuously out of our grasp, it is the background of my work. Nevertheless, I don't thick that art has much to do with the choose of medium, art - it is to live while I spend my days painting or hopping on one leg, it is exactly the same thing...

And your relation to words?

When I start a painting, I have sometimes a vague sketch or a drawing of a character, the title appears often only later. I have a way of thinking and a way of seeing the world that has an influence on my language and my words. Some of them are extremely important, such as « absurd », « dead », « art », « sense »... When the painting takes a direction that seems interesting to me, often the title imposes itself... there, again, I dont choose much, everything becomes evident, the painting functions, and the title as well. Their etymology is very important for me, I like titles that seem to indicate something simple, precise and which prove to be much richer that we think. In the painting Corps, for instance, the word body (corps) seems to indicate the pink and soft mass that the man has just discovered, it evokes dead bodies that we find after a catastrophe... In fact, this painting insists a lot more on our relation with body in general, our relation to the other and to sexuality... The title Corps was an evidence... I made the choice of liberty but concerning the rest, we don't really choose, things impose themselves naturally or how it suits them and I don't have much to do with all this...

You assimilate sometimes painting to a gastric exercise...

When I paint, I conduct myself the same way as a surgeon does, with the same diligence. I need to say something in a very precise manner, that is why my titles don't include articles, I don't want them to be a word from the dictionary to which I bring my definition... I assemble thus a certain vocabulary, a form of definition of what I am, or more precisely, of what I am not (a definition by default) Canvas after canvas, I approach myself... I dissect...

You told me about a mechanical aspect, a machine and an organic aspect... it is very relevant... I talked about tomographic imagery in one of my texts, it is exactly this, the imagery of my paintings is close to medical imagery. They are simultaneously X-rays of our world and images of my own brain...

I think that there really is a link between my paintings and digestion. My work could be an instruction of how to digest the world, in sort. I would like my paintings to also function in that sense, as if they were pieces of a big machine which represents at the same time the mechanical side of reflection (a brain at work) and the organically side (the one of digestion on a large scale). We must imagine not the peristaltic movements of the stomach, but the movements of a brain which reflection after reflection arrives to digest a certain aspect of the world to better bear it... In fact, art and humor would take on the role of gastric juice...

What preoccupies so intensely the figures of your paintings?

I think that my characters act (rather egoistically) for themselves. Their actions don't have a relationship with the world that surrounds them and even less with people that surround them. When I speak of general indifference, it is because the looks never meet each other... It is in that solitude of Sisyphus where we affair. My characters are the condemned, like me, they never really know what they have come here to do, I think that they don't even try to understand. They do what seems important to them... They debate with oil painting (this famous soft material), using inappropriate tools...

Each of my paintings functions as a fragment of an internal monologue... for me, there is a link between the soliloquy and the purely mechanical repetition of our gestures; we are all puppets, all in the same shit... But there is nothing negative about it! I don't criticize anything, I don't rise up against anything. There is nothing cynical about my laughter, and nor is there anything barbaric in my way of dissecting the world; I simply turn everything that surrounds me to joke, without sparing my work nor the ridiculous man that I am... I have finally a great vitality that oscillates between laughter, indifference and a salutary serenity. I owe everything to my way of seeing the world, and by the way, there is only one way of seeing the world, the one to see it as it is!