Perrotin is pleased to present Prémonitions a solo exhibition of Iván Argote. On this occasion the artist presents a new body of paintings and sculptures. Concurrently, the artist presents Air de jeux at the Centre Pompidou, as part of his nomination for Marcel Duchamp Prize. These two exhibitions feed back into each other, one prefiguring the contours of the other in an endless spiral.
Iván Argote is a sensitive artist. Constantly listening to the world around him, it is with tenderness that he studies the inner murmurings of men and the societies that they have built for themselves, often through illusions. Fragile foundations, an earth constantly trembling, thin as the layer of tar on a road laid bare by the umpteenth construction site in the city of Paris, on which, however, the ego of the powerful has erected empires and monuments. The heroic figures of the national narrative and the monuments dedicated to them are precisely subjects towards which the artist directed his critical gaze for the past several years.
Through a series of interventions in the public space, Iván Argote plays with the collective perception and tests the particular relationship we have with history and its artifacts. By simulating the removal of a statue in honor of Marshal Joseph Galliéni in Paris (Au Revoir Joseph Gallieni, 2021), the relocation of a sculpture dedicated to Christopher Columbus in Madrid (Paseo, 2022), and finally a Levitation of the Flaminio obelisk in the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, a summer 2022 performance as part of his residency at the Villa Medici, the artist reveals our attachment to the fictional narratives that constitute the history of nations. Like children unable to symbolically cut the umbilical cord, we want to continue to believe in our heroes, in their discoveries and their virtuous triumphs, which are as factual as Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales.
Alongside the three films and the installation presented by the artist at the Centre Pompidou as part of his nomination for the Marcel Duchamp Prize, Iván Argote presents a new set of paintings and sculptures at Perrotin. In a game of self-reference where even accidents can seem premeditated, these two exhibitions and the places, films, paintings, sculptures and installations they present feed back into each other, one prefiguring the contours of the other in an endless spiral.
That the exhibition is entitled Prémonitions is not insignificant. The Fallen series of paintings sees the artist returning to this medium, after several years exploring different materials such as concrete. Fragments of obelisks, empty pedestals and amputated monuments stand out in gradations of pastel tones: grayish, yellow or evoking the radical tenderness of millennial pink, like a prophetic dream of the end of a patriarchal and ecologically suicidal society.
The sculptures titled Patience represent statues that seem to be eroded and sliced, abandoned and reclaimed by nature. These pieces show an "anticipation" of a more or less near future, where monuments structuring our public sphere and the political institutions that generated them will decline. The reappropriation of public monuments symbolising political power is an artistic process that is central to Iván Argote's work.
The artist has developed narratives in which the statues of the nation's "great men" are stripped of the symbolic power that animates them: for example, he staged the removal by the authorities of the statues of Christopher Colon (Paseo, 2022) and Joseph Gallieni (Au revoir, Joseph Gallieni, 2021).
Produced in a studio decorated with sets painted by the artist, sets that will themselves become works in their own right, Post Human traces the origins of the obelisk as an architectural form, and its instrumentalization as a symbol and public demonstration of power. The irony of the pigeons as guides (voice-overs are interpreted by actors Nathan Willcocks and Roxane Duran), as numerous as the tourists who flock to the same places of pilgrimage that these famous cities and squares have become, is not unrelated to that of the contemplation of these great architectural gestures that have become tourist trinkets, sold on the street and carried home in a pocket. Reverence and popularization. Fragments of monuments, in the form of an installation of soft sculptures made by the artist, amplify the idea of mobility and immutability of sculptures and monuments in the public space.
Marginalized figures of the public space, the artist rehabilitates and personifies these animals in his new series of sculptures Precious, where we see them interact with different architectural structures and move easily within a city that they have appropriated.
Born in 1983 in Bogotá, Colombia
Lives and works in Paris, France
Iván Argote is an artist and film director. Through his sculptures, installations, films and interventions, he questions our intimate relationship with others, institutions, power and belief systems. He develops strategies based on tenderness, affect and humour through which he suggests critical approaches to dominant historical narratives and attempts to decentralise them. In his interventions on monuments, large-scale installations and performances, Iván Argote proposes new symbolic uses of public space.
Works by the artist are included in the permanent collections of numerous prestigious institutions worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum (New York, US); Centre Pompidou (Paris, France); ASU Art Museum (Phoenix, US); Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (Miami, US); Colección de Arte del Banco de la República (Bogotá, Colombia); Kadist (San Francisco, US); MACBA (Barcelona, Spain).