Guy Limone is a painter, but he gave up his brushes for figurines, labels and fluorescent tubes. He paints like a artist as statistician, in a minimalist, abstract manner. With humor, he co-opts the tools forged by the 20th-century avant-garde movements, such as the use of monochrome or fluorescent tubes à la Dan Flavin. A man of integrity and sincerity, he underscores absurdities, fights again disparities and always adopts an offbeat approach.
Described as an “artist of statistics,” Guy Limone came to art via census reports and lists. He lines up tiny hand-painted figures in neatly arranged rows along gallery walls. He gives form to statistic information and christens the resulting work with long names: En l’an 2000 neuf êtres humains sur mille seront français (1993); On estime que chaque jour 326 femmes et 1097 hommes sont assassinés (2004). (“In the year 2000, nine in one thousand human beings will be French,” 1993; “Every day, an estimated 326 women and 1,097 men are assassinated,” 2004.) He’s consistent but not resigned, and he observes our society, revealing its dysfunctions and denouncing its failings. He gives form to social, economic and cultural boundaries through rows arranged in perfectly straight lines. The statistics he reports are reflections of failure. They reveal a world that is more concerned with recording human suffering than with solving its problems.
Returning to the use of monochrome, he uses packages, labels and magazine images like tubes of paint. He arranges these materials in his Tapisseries, which are like large patchworks. These framed, accumulated images are organized by color and form an all-over work that stretches from floor to ceiling. He draws on archives gathered over years to create these constructions. Like a wanderer, he travels around the world and dips into magazines to find these pictorial units. He has amassed collections of yellows, reds and violets from sidewalks and mailboxes, to be used as needed. But the accumulations are short-lived, as the “collections disappear with the work.”
For Limone, the world is as blue as an orange. According to him, Mexico is green, Toyko is black, Fez is yellow. He takes photographs from his obsessions and then arranges his shots on fluorescent tubes. He glues a hundred views directly to the tube. A dimmer switch adjusts the intensity of the light. The support has been transformed into the work; the picture rail has become the painting.
Through his statistical work, the Tapisseries and the fluorescent tubes, Guy Limone uses lists like quotations. This method is similar to Bret Easton Ellis’s approach to literature. American Psycho was the ultimate exercise in name dropping. The novel’s narrator only sees people via their brand-name clothing; he only notices famous people. Ellis substituted the psychological descriptions of a Balzac for portraiture via brand names. Limone is an artist as taxonomer; he classifies and patiently files away labels. Obsessed by color, he photographs and collects images to create ephemeral collections. He constructs the world more than he observes it. He fragments and models his contemporaries, reducing them to vignettes and figurines. As a painter of lists, he has adopted multiplication. A wanderer as much as a gleaner, he collects images, information and statistics to reflect back an image of a fragmented, by not divided, world.