Opening Thursday 22 March from 4 pm to 9 pm
In the fifteen or so canvases displayed in the exhibition L’Esperança dau Suquet (The Hope of the Top) there are all sorts of things: a beribboned character, a traffic cone used as a headdress, slices of mortadella, the head of a butchered rabbit, oversized boots, shoe boxes for all shoes, railings and fences, a disfigured owl and even a hat with a canister of whipped cream set on a table. Difficult to spot a motif, a subject. “I paint what is in the studio.” Everything intertwines, superimposes itself in a resolutely surprising jumble, just like the famous “chance encounter on a dissection table of a sewing machine and an umbrella”.
But here, chance is not mechanical: beauty isn’t convulsive. It should be seen as a campaign to demystify painting starting from its foundation, its origin: from the grotto to the Neo-Geo (Nez au Géo, 2016), via palimpsest, illusion and self-mockery, to the images of self-portraits in figures/stereotypical models of the artist. The multiple pictorial techniques that he develops, created with the help of paintbrushes for amateurs, with synthetic and rigid bristles, enable him to inject into his compositions a non-dissimulated dose of nervousness. The game of opposites exaggerates the gaze’s illusions, like with Lo Trionf de la Pintura (The Triumph of Painting), 2018, a small-sized canvas in which the artist opposes a cubist-style assemblage with a bottle brush made up of foam chips and the head of a dog sitting on the parcel shelf of a car, the whole painted with an expression of astonishment. In Palhasso XII (The Clown XII), 2018, the nose of a clown – whose Germanic etymology can mean “mound of earth” as well as “clumsy” – integrates the heart of a badly defined mountain suspended in the space. The picturesque and the trivial rub shoulders with the memory of the Great Painters.
This violation of good taste – that doesn’t necessarily mean the production of bad taste – is to be understood as a criticism of all aesthetic beliefs. If the titles of his artworks are sometimes written in Nissart (in Occitan) and often translated into English (the henceforth universal language), it’s namely to fight against any attempt at standardisation, starting with language. Nevertheless, this absence of style asserted as a style in itself – like Martin Kippenberger claimed in his time – does not hinder in any way the recognition of an aesthetic specific to Lagalla. With him, the burlesque is truly an art of the punchline, of shifting, of rebound, profoundly metaphysical and critical of our modes of existence. His artworks mostly function as vanities, but contemporary vanities. Beyond the frivolous, the insignificant or the illusory, there is a conception of the world with a flat ontology, whilst revealing disjointed universes, such as everything that surrounds us, such as real life.
Eric Mangion, 2018
Exhibition in collaboration with the gallery La Mauvaise Réputation, Bordeaux et Espace A VENDRE, Nice.