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Exhibition from January 26 to March 26, 2017 - Vitrine 7 place du Parlement, Bordeaux

Mathias Tujague - neither "eyes", nor "tears", nor "broth"

Neither “eyes”, nor “tears”, nor “bouillon” (1)

Mathias Tujague's practice, which combines the installation and the production of sculptural objects, is resolutely directed towards the creation of situations and environments to be experienced.

The artist continues his formal research based on “natural” elements (plane tree leaves, charred wood, crystals, concretions, mosses and lichens), which he reproduces or multiplies by changing materials and scale.

Going back to the origins of the Crystal Palace, which gave its name to the showcase, it is inspired by the giant water lily of South America, Victoria amazonica , fascinating by its gigantism, the architecture of its leaves and the incredible beauty of its short flowering.

Discovered in 1801 by the German botanist Thaddäus Haenke, the plant will be named Victoria in 1837 in homage to the English sovereign. After many failures it was not until 1849 to see the first plants grown from seeds to develop timidly at the Royal Botanic Garden of Kew.

A plant is then entrusted to Joseph Paxton, responsible for the gardens of the Duke of Devonshire in Chatsworth. The genius and inventiveness of this young landscaper are no longer to be proven since the construction of the large greenhouse of the estate, admired by all. True to his rising reputation, he will be the first to optimize the growing conditions of the plant and to make it bloom, which was celebrated in London as a historic event and earned him the knight of Queen Victoria.

Fascinated by the solidity of the sheet (the fashion for children photographed on the sheets dates from this period), he was inspired by the network of ribs on the submerged face to build the structure of his glass roofs, in particular that of his head of architectural work, the Crystal Palace. Intended to house the first Universal Exhibition in London, this monumental greenhouse was built in record time thanks to the use of standardized prefabricated elements, an innovative and patented system. The Crystal Palace, inaugurated in Hyde Park in 1851, demonstrates the industrial and technical superiority of the United Kingdom.

Mathias Tujague uses the graphics of the high structure of the nave, cut in negative from a reflective adhesive affixed to the glass. The initial “half-rose” designed by Paxton is doubled, recreating a full circle in order to return to the original inspiration.

In the background, through the play of mirrors reflecting the square, the upper face of the sheet stands out, the one that is naturally visible, like a dispersion of waves on the surface of a body of water. Erected vertically, it seems suspended, similar to a gong, a sun disk or a circular Monet painting.

This scenography surprisingly replays the presentation codes of the stands of universal exhibition fairs and 19th century passages, ancestors of our windows, where “ the possibility of observing from a distance and in complete safety offers an effect of both temporal hindsight. (natural history specimens and dioramas) and an anonymity which gives the viewer a detachment and a power allowing him to contemplate avidly an enclosed and henceforth submissive object. "(2)

The invariable color of the walls is a chromatic average of a painting of Monet's Water Lilies. Each evening, light variations bathe the exhibition space, recreating in accelerated color the evolution of the flower which, in nature, passes in one day and two nights from pearly white to fuchsia pink. Hatching, nocturnal, extraordinary, is accompanied by an increase in the temperature of the flower (3), facilitating the dispersion of a powerful scent of pineapple, irresistible for the beetle which fertilizes it before it fades. and does not disappear under water.

The artist, by multiplying surfaces and textures, moves away from a naturalistic representation, operating a hybridization between plant and mineral.

He confronts the schematized, rationalized and cold reverse side with the organic, undulating and sensual reverse side to shape a “flowered aquarium” (4), a dreamlike environment where the blossoming of an aquatic plant is transformed into a floating twilight landscape.

(1) The title refers to the various defects that could be found in the innovative panes made in the 19th century by the glass industry for greenhouses. They should be avoided because they produced magnifying effects liable to burn the leaves. From the book From the Orangerie to the Crystal Palace, a History of Greenhouses , Yves-Marie Allain, Quæ editions, 2010.

(2) Realm of artifice. The emergence of kitsch in the 19th century , Céleste Olalquiaga, Fage éditions, 2013.

(3) This process of heat production in organisms, called thermogenesis, is extremely rare in the plant world. It is found in the two giant water lilies of the genus Victoria (amazonica and cruziana) , the stinking cabbage ( Symplocarpus foetidus ), the Voodoo lily ( Amorphophallus titanum ) ...

(4) Term used by Claude Monet to talk about his Water Lilies . In 1889, the famous impressionist painter literally fell under the spell of Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac's water lilies presented at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. He is expanding his garden in Giverny in order to obtain these new colorful varieties, which will be an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

The artist would like to thank the Botanical Garden of Lyon as well as the Latour-Marliac botanical establishments in Temple-sur-Lot.

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