For the exhibition Dirty Like a Smiling Fish
Nicolas Krupp Gallery, Basel, 2014
Association 1: The color brown – Droopy – digestive system – Mickey's hand – painting of Aldo Walker.
Association 2: Platforms – cylinders – Armleder – blue cloth.
Association 3: Cartoon octopus – Legos – Crumb – baroque tapestry.
Yoan Mudry plays with layers. His paintings... [First and foremost, but not only, as Yoan's work is above all a work of organizing scattered elements on different levels. It's therefore logical that his objects, texts and exhibitions function in the same way.]
... all his propositions, then, following the way of his paintings, are like a section of a rhizomatic map, a zoom-in on an ensemble of synapses, a framing of a tangled net; lines and knots – sometimes chaotic, sometimes over-organized. Through his eclectic production, the artist proposes his interpretation of states of flux into which we are thrown, and which overwhelm us. Such is the way of lines and knots.
To construct his propositions Yoan uses fragments of images as cultural objects. These fragments find themselves at once witnesses, representatives and actors of different types of visual discourse, whose codes, functionings, influences and limits the artist never stops questioning: Pop culture, directly identifiable when it's reappropriated and détourné, using cartoons and Disney characters, for example (Brave men run in my family, Milk-toast). Culture – or rather, art history – such as in Dialog mit der Marbriers, F.Sculpture or Global Paradise. Punk culture as well, in its own way, with My education and Untiteld Yet.
And in each of these fields of reference, there are still more layers. Yoan plays with both global references and specific ones – common Western history as well as memories shared only by those who were there that night.
Each one of the artist's productions, though they may be considered individually, are part of a larger discourse in which all productions become signs. A bit like the way in which Lemaître interrogates the cinema, Yoan mistreats the boundaries between different parts of the exhibition (the work, the artist, the wine, the spectator, the communication, the space, the time...) This was the case when six hundred people unsubscribed from the Marbriers 4 mailing list after receiving – spam style, non-stop, with no explanation nor signature – more than twenty e-mails comprised of texts by young artists. Likewise when he relegated F.Sculpture to the stock of an exhibition, polishing it and considering that he should mark it at a discount because of a missing piece; a tree branch being used for the realization of a second sculpture.
These operations often go unnoticed. They play with temporality and the in-situ, and there's something performative about them sometimes, difficult to define. Sorts of appropriation strategies in the global context of contemporary art, these gestures/choices are for Yoan the occasion to interrogate the longevity of a piece, a career or the workings of a market.
The elements assembled by the artist create open and moving narratives, models of possible tales. Through the choice of fragments and their situation in a dialogue, Yoan tells stories – but in the style of the Joker and his smile, these stories are often pretexts, never more than half true. They cannot be taken seriously if one is to understand the artist's methods. Point of departure: they have a dimension of lies (and it's perhaps there that we are closest to the artist's universe of reference). But in this case it's a lie that at the same time is truth; a destabilizing nonsense of common sense and a producer of new effects. A sort of Schrödinger's cat turned upside down. The living dead, from the depths of its box, the cat allows for all realities to exist up to that which observation reveals. Conversely, Yoan's work is One until observation – the gaze of the spectator – makes it many.
The artist's images constantly have a double, or even a triple sense. They represent in a literal way their content, but they are also signs permitting us to reconstruct a global discourse. Each œuvre at once constructs the discourse, perpetrates the memory and disturbs it. Each piece is an extension. The image, the exhibition, the object and its building blocks attempt to interrogate the dispositives and micro-dispositives in which they are inscribed, inviting the spectator to question in the same way what hovers above it all.
Always toeing the line of limits – seduction/repulsion, obsessive precision/imperfect realization, language creation/refusal to communicate – Yoan is one of the representatives of a new generation of polymorphic artists, speakers of numeric languages who collect subjectivities that might have once seemed irreconcilable. For these artists, art is politics without political mediation (discourse). Depths and forms no longer find themselves in a system of binary opposition whose explanation gives (or not) the key. They are no longer opposites, nor identical. They become Three or more. They are form-depth-subject-self-other, everything in one.
Yoan's work is also a story of construction and deconstruction, of carving out, of collage, focus and transformations. A story of codes, of signs. It's through the direct analysis/comprehension of codes of the dominant discourse that he elaborates his systems. And it's precisely in these folds that politics is hidden. In caricature and underlining, exaggeration and surplus, in the precise choice of sources and references. The images of the artist, often smooth, always applied, do not offer another spectacle but rather a new, deconstructed and dysfunctional reality whose codes are accentuated or tortured, revealing their intrinsic absurdity. The nudes, such as Fountain or Funny Games are not attractive such as with Koons; the food – Speedfreak, Füller, Pop Up – are always inedible, and stuffed creatures and socks are crucified or exploded. While the composition is precise, sometimes to the point of paranoid obsession, the workmanship is voluntarily imperfect. In the image of the reality he represents, his far-away world is colorful, smooth and alluring. It's by getting up close that one sees the details: poorly cut strings are revealed, social dysfunction, twisted paint and scotch tape, false freedom, solid colors that are not so solid, the abuse and the spectacle.