Centre Pompidou, Paris

MUSÉE NATIONAL D'ART MODERNE - CENTRE GEORGE POMPIDOU | Place Georges-Pompidou
F-75004 Paris

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press release

Since his appearance on the art scene in about 2000, Adel Abdessemed's work has been fuelled by the disaster of contemporary history. The artist uses the language of art to reclaim the forces of violence and destruction: the plaited aeroplanes of Telle mère tel fils [Like Mother Like Son] (2008) or the folded fuselage of Bourek (2005) recall the trauma of the attack on 11 September 2001 with which the century began, the blackened terracotta car bodies of Practice ZERO TOLERANCE (2006) are the vestiges of the urban riots that shook the French suburbs in the Spring of 2005 ; the rows of barbed wire punctuated by double-sided blades and sharpened points of Wall Drawing (2006) refers to the logic of imprisonment (Guantanamo Bay) and territorial division… Installations, performances, drawings, sculptures, videos, photographs: whatever medium he employs Adel Abdessemed captures the rumblings of history to put them into images. He gathers together the signs of violence evident across the world to transform them into cosmic syntagmata, constructing a secular and composite mythological narrative, made from an infinity of correspondances, which speaks of the interminable birth of order and harmony from fusions, displacements, fragmentations, surfaces studded with starry motifs, of disparate images and themes: the ambivalence and ambiguity of the world finds their translation in a work burst asunder, in ecstatic and violent montage effects. From this rhythmic, formal or chromatic work of deconstruction comes a fragmentation of images and concepts that makes reference to the now widespread exchanges between cultures and goods, to the establishment of territories with neither centre nor borders, answering to flexible hierarchies, made up of countless units, with partial and changing configurations. However, while Abdessemed draws on historical material, he uses ornament as the instrument of its transfiguration or stylisation: the aeroplanes of Telle mère telle fils are transformed into tracery; the fuselage of Bourek is rolled on to itself in scrolls; the razor wire of Wall Drawing is converted into perfect circles scaled to the size of the human body… Abdessemed's work is deployed like an ornament, drawing circuits whose meaning and orientation are revealed only in a system of symmetrical or asymmetrical repetitions, variations and inflexions. His works are full of complex references that cannot be regarded as strictly contemporaneous: references to minimalism, to the Wall Drawings of Sol LeWitt or more distantly, to Géricault, to the tragic and burlesque pessimism of Goya or to Mathias Grünewald by which Abdessemed was very explicitly inspired in the four Christ de Décor. Lastly, Adel Abdessemed's pieces are borne by a dreamlike power. In the same way as, in Freudian theory, the previous day provides the sleeper with the material for his dream, – what Freud calls "the day of the dream" – the present provides Abdessemed with the material for his pieces, which will then undergo a process of transformation.

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Adel Abdessemed
I am innocent
Kurator: Philippe-Alain Michaud