Le Forum is pleased to announce its plans to stage “Soleil Noir” (Black Sun), an exhibition by noted French artist Laurent Grasso this autumn. Born in 1972, Grasso is the 2008 recipient of the Marcel Duchamp Prize, an honor bestowed upon the most groundbreaking artists residing in France, and has continued to draw keen attention for his inspired achievements in recent years. Though Grasso’s solo exhibitions have been held in museums around the world over the years, this marks his first full-fledged solo showing in Japan.
In many instances, his works originate from research into historical or scientific documents, subsequently evolving into portrayals of mystical events, legends, supernatural phenomena and other captivating subject matter. For example, he has marshaled the styles and techniques of the Flemish school of painting in the 15th to 16th centuries, pre-Renaissance Italian pictorial art in a sustained quest to realize works depicting solar eclipses, auroras, meteors and other celestial events rarely if ever painted back in those days. Such embodiments serve to confront and often undermine our conventional impressions of reality and time. The painting is supremely early modern in its style and technique, yet spawns futuristic impressions akin to science fiction. It represents fictional imagery, which simultaneously exudes profound visual depths reflecting the true picture of the world around us.
The phenomena played out in his paintings are further rendered through video, animation, sculpture and other chosen media. In this exhibition, the “Black Sun” motif is treated in media spanning marble, mirrors, neon and other modes, repeatedly reconstituted in images staggering and neutralizing time, and posing perennial riddles to the viewer.
While seeking his muse from light, sound, electricity, magnetism, cosmic energy and other physical features, Grasso is also adept at articulating mythology, supernatural occurrences and other intriguing images. Bringing that approach to the forefront, he expertly renders the bonds existing between scientific and mystical realms in poetic and at times sublime terms. A mix of the past, present and future, moving back and forth between reality and fiction, his ambiguous works serve as an apparatus for viewing the world through different lenses, unveiling a new history in bold and elaborate pictures.
Among the new works to be featured on this occasion are numerous pieces that while reflecting the artist’s conventional style also entail images of his interest in Japan. Upon visiting Japan ahead of time to perform research, he found himself inspired by dogu (clay figures), Noh masks, gold-leaf-covered folding screens and other traditional Japanese expressions. This exhibit includes a standing statue combining images of Medieval European priest and Japanese dogu. While furnishing a mix of the Occident and the Orient, it projects a strong inconsistency barring them from neither side. Moreover, Grasso has referenced a number of documentary records in exploring supernatural occurrences, legends of the Edo Period and other aspects of Japan that he has transformed into works. Yet another new challenge undertaken for this event comprises the quest to bring his own unique interpretation of the Japan’s architectural elements into the architecture of his own exhibition, with this emerging as one important component in these works.