Xippas Paris announce Au-dessous du barrage, the fourth personal exhibition by Yvan Salomone. The exhibition features an ensemble of recent watercolours, together with a selection of painted photographs rarely shown in the past. Painted and drawn over, scratched (etc.), these small-format pictures remind us of the importance of photography as a starting point in the artist’s work. They introduce, in a more intimate register, twenty watercolours of a similar large format, using bright colours.
Yvan Salomone is one of the few artists who currently bases his work on the intuition of a deep kinship between the two techniques (painting and photography). Oil, bitumen and turpentine, which were the basis for so-called plenary painting, are often coating materials, whereas watercolour can be light blood or tear water, as is the revealing bath of traditional photography, which August Strindberg liked to compare to the sea, full of sodium chloride, sulfates and magnesium.
This is the lustral seawater that Yvan Salomone (who lives in Saint-Malo) swims in every day, winter and summer, essentially to receive a daily unction and pardon from the medium he collaborates with in painting. Watercolour is a very demanding medium, which requires technical mastery but also respect for accidents, patience and precision: the water dries quicker than oil, but still slower than one would like, and does not allow for any correction or repentance once it evaporates, leaving the imprint of its pigment on the surface of the paper.
“You’re delusional”, the reader may cry! It’s possible, certainly, but ritual is a fundamental dimension of Salomone’s work. Since 1991, the artist has fixed himself a Benedictine rule (the sea bathing ceremony gives an idea of his capacity for discipline!) which he never strays from, except when he travels: large watercolours emerge from his studio in succession, always in the same format, mostly inspired by industrial sites or deserted ports, or by a no man’s land (in the literal sense — no human figure is ever present in Salomone’s work, like in Eugène Atget’s) of a land forgotten — or rather devastated — by modernity.
Each plate has an immatriculation number, or an inventory number, a title made up of eleven letters, often a portmanteau word that Salomone, an avid reader of Finnegans Wake and Ulysses, is fond of, and is accompanied, practically in secret, not by a caption or comment, but by a secular prayer, as beautiful as it is hermetic […]