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"Appui, tendu, renversé" - Jimmy Robert

>> VERSION FRANÇAISE

Appui, tendu, renversé by Jimmy Robert (born 1975 in Saint Claude, Guadeloupe) is the first exhibition of this size dedicated to the artist in France. The fruit of a coproduction with Nottingham Contemporary in the UK and the Museion in Bolzano, Italy, it looks back at more than twenty years of work.

Jimmy Robert, Sans titre (Ompdrailles), 2013.
Impression jet d'encre, tube en bois, 144x97x10cm.
Vue de l'installation « AMIA Photo Prize Exhibition 2016 »
Musée des beaux-arts de l'Ontario, Canada, 2017.
Photo : Dean Tomlinson. Collection du Frac Grand Large - Haut-de-France.
Courtesy de l'artiste, de la galerie Stigter Van Doesburg, Amsterdam, et de Tanya Leighton, Berlin.
Jimmy Robert, Sans titre (mur), 2015.
Impression jet d'encre, bois, scotch de masquage,
240 x 152 cm (impression) 414 x 152 cm (installation).
Vue de l’exposition "It’s not lame…it’s lamé" Tanya Leighton, Berlin, 2015.
Courtesy de l'artiste, de la galerie Stigter Van Doesburg, Amsterdam, et de Tanya Leighton, Berlin.

In seven rooms on the ground floor, Jimmy Robert’s exhibition offers a broad overview of the artist’s career since 2001, assembling a large collection of photographs, videos, sculptures, texts and works on paper, often presented in the form of installations combining these different mediums. In a novel, nonlinear way, the exhibition establishes a dialogue between the works, which are sometimes far apart in time, giving visitors the possibility of an augmented, updated reading of the artist’s practice.

Since the early 2000s, Jimmy Robert has been placing the identity and representation of the black body at the centre of his approach, more broadly exploring questions having to do with the desire, perspective and vulnerability of bodies, sometimes their absence. It is often the body and voice of the artist himself that are presented, in installations mixing writing, poetry, dance, movement and images.

Taking a special interest in paper — which he uses not only as a printing and projection surface, but also as sculptured material — Jimmy Robert cuts, fragments, crumples and unframes his images, and often presents them right on the floor: this was the case for one of this most recent series entitled Plié (2020). The body is exposed in its fragility, in the process of bending, crawling or falling.

The photographic installation Untitled (Ompdrailles) (2013) presents an image curving on both sides of a pole over which it hangs. On one side appears a pedastalled bronze sculpture of two wrestlers, about whom it is not known whether the first is preventing or precipitating the fall of the second; the other part of the image reveals Jimmy Robert’s collapsed body: it extends the sculpture and gives it a new narrative, one that is less conquering and no doubt more oblique. This turning of the body upside-down is also found in the title of the exhibition, which refers to a gymnastics pose, balancing on the hands.

If it is a question of bodies, it is also a question of dance and movement in the work of Jimmy Robert. He regularly collaborates with classical ballet or contemporary dancers, while also owning his personal lack of skill. Far more than technique, he is interested in how a body performs in a space and interacts with others. In the video installation entitled Vanishing Point, he films a drag queen he met in a Rio de Janeiro cabaret, who is presented in front of the Capanema Palace designed by architect Lucio Costa, typical of the megalopolis’s modernist architecture. The dancer’s body and hair cause the surrounding space to resonate differently, literally driving it wild.

In interviews, Jimmy Robert often makes reference to clubs, spaces in which everyone performs, flirts, dances with varying degrees of ability, watches and is watched, invents a type for themself and constantly positions themself in relation to others, to music, to light. It is also this kind of space and this play between bodies that inform his artistic practice, as do more learned references to minimal and conceptual art, which particularly inspire him.

Throughout the exhibition, and more broadly in Jimmy Robert’s practice, one finds a number of references to other artists, through various forms of appropriation, copying and citation: they place the figure of the author in a state of crisis, while offering a polyphonic composition. Thus Jimmy Robert converses with Yoko Ono, Yvonne Rainer, Marguerite Duras and Marcel Duchamp, but also with more discreet artists like Brazilian poet Ana Cristina César, and with visual artists who have made disappearance and withdrawal an artform in its own right.

Jimmy Robert, Untitled (Plié II), 2020.
Archival inkjet print, satin ribbon, wood veneer and wooden pedestal,
print size: 43 3/8×59 in, pedestal size: 78 3/4×78 3/4 in.
Installation view, “Apropos Papier: Jimmy Robert - Plié”, Leopold-Hoesch-Museum, Düren, 2020.
Photography: Peter Hinschläger.
Courtesy of the artist; Stigter Van Doesburg, Amsterdam, and Tanya Leighton, Berlin.

Throughout the exhibition, and more broadly in Jimmy Robert’s practice, one finds a number of references to other artists, through various forms of appropriation, copying and citation: they place the figure of the author in a state of crisis, while offering a polyphonic composition. Thus Jimmy Robert converses with Yoko Ono, Yvonne Rainer, Marguerite Duras and Marcel Duchamp, but also with more discreet artists like Brazilian poet Ana Cristina César, and with visual artists who have made disappearance and withdrawal an artform in its own right.This is the case for Surinamese artist Stanley Brouwn, famous for having systematically rejected the reproduction of his works in images, or Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, who died prematurely during a sea crossing conceived as a work of art.

Jimmy Robert sketches his own radial genealogy in time, and offers other convergence lines capable of deviating from known trajectories, while building a resolutely subjective and private friendship policy. Behind the masking, covering and disappearance games the artist plays, it is a veritable erotic of materials and surfaces that shows up everywhere. Fabric, leather, wood, the quality of papers used are all skins and tactile surfaces that summon the sense of touch and grab visual attention.


Marie Cozette

EXHIBITION PARTNERS :

The exhibition Appui, tendu, renversé is the product of a partnership between three institutions: Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, Museion in Bolzano and the Crac Occitanie in Sète.

The first stage of the project was presented at Nottingham Contemporary from 26 September 2020 to 18 April 2021 (curated by Nicole Yip), and the second stage was shown at Museion in Bolzano from 28 May to 29 August 2021 (curated by Bart van der Heide and Frida Carazzato).


BIOGRAPHICAL ABSTRACT :

Jimmy Robert was born in 1975 in Guadeloupe. He studied at Goldsmiths College in London and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. He lives and works in Berlin, where he also teaches at UDK / University of the Arts.

Jimmy Robert is represented by Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin, and by Stigter van Doesburg gallery, Amsterdam.

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