HdM GALLERY is pleased to present ‘Menthe and Caramel’, the new solo show by French sculptor and painter Ivan Messac, and curated by Lu Mingjun. His second collaboration with the gallery following a successful show in London last year, this will be Messac’s first exhibition at the HdM GALLERY Beijing space.
In the title of the exhibition, ‘menthe’ and ‘caramel’ are taken from the titles of Messac’s works, as they convey the first emotion felt when we face his paintings. ‘Menthe’ and ‘caremel’ are two different foods, and they represent two perceptions of taste: menthe is fresh and transitory, while caramel is bitter, dark and sticky. Nevertheless, it is not just a visual experience, but embodies the inherent contradiction and conflict permeating Messac’s Pop (or anti-Pop) images as well as his aesthetic and political practice.
A Pop Philosophy
A lead figure in the French ‘Figuration Narrative’ group of the 1970’s, Messac gained a degree in Philosophy before turning his attentions to painting in 1969. The youngest member of this European cousin of the Pop Art movement, his work has been praised by leading critics, among which are Jean-Louis Pradel and Jose Pierre – the latter of which dedicated an article to Messac in his book ‘Le Dictionnaire du Pop Art’ (1975). A true polymath (Messac is also a published writer as well as a visual artist), his work draws on themes from literature and Greek Mythology as in the works ‘A Nîme on a bonne mine’ and ‘Aubergine et cornichon’, both on display in the exhibition, where figures from Classical mythology are given a Pop Art reworking in colourful acrylic on aluminium. The bold cut out forms, vivid colours and the use of stencilling all unite him with the Pop Art movement.
Starting to work with sculpture in 1983, Messac spent time working in Carrara, the historic heart of Italian marble production before returning to his privileged medium of painting in 2000. The new exhibition combines recent paintings from 2018 with aluminium cut out sculptures from 2013 representing the breadth of Messac’s oeuvre also in his eclectic choice of iconography. A cast of beauty queens, showgirls, astronauts and mythological figures feature in Messac’s paintings which together with a zesty, bold colour palette and witty titling – ‘She did too Much’ and ‘Clouds on Bare Horizons’- contribute to the irreverent playfulness of Messac’s work.
Ivan Messac was born in Caen, France in 1948. Self-taught in painting and sculpture. In 1969, Ivan both earned a Master of Philosophy and participated in an exhibition of Salon de la Jeune Peinture, the young artists’ association created in the 50s. He now lives and works in Sens and Paris. Shown extensively in institutions and galleries, Messac exhibited his work at the Centre Georges Pompidou, at the Musee du Quai Branly, at the Centre d'Art Contemporain de Troyes, at la Patinoire Royale Bruxelles and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Cherbourg.
Lu Mingjun was born in 1978, he obtained the PH.D in History from Sichuan University. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of Fine Arts, College of Art, Sichuan University, and mainly engaged in the research, teaching and practice of modern and contemporary art history, art criticism and theory. He has also served as the art director of Surplus Space since 2015. In the same year, He was the recipient of ‘N. Ho Family Foundation Greater China Research Grant’. Also, He won ‘YiShu Awards for Critical Writing on Contemporary Chinese Art’ in 2016 and ‘Asian Cultural Council Fellowship’ in and ‘The Sixth Chinese Contemporary Art Award’ in 2017.
Hero Who Blazed the Trail to the Stars - acrylic on canvas - 200 x 200 cm - 2018
Elles en ont Trop Fait - acrylic on canvas - 150 x 150 cm - 2018
Menthe et framboise - acrylic on canvas - 162 x 130 cm - 2018
Tout ça pour du caramel - acrylic on canvas - 100 x 81 cm - 2018