press release

This solo exhibition by the artist Zilvinas Kempinas, a Lithuanian artist living in New York, is produced by Le Grand Café contemporary art centre in collaboration with the Atelier Calder (Saché). This will be the first substantial showing of the artist's fascinating work in France. By means of magnetic tape, he delivers an experience of the visual and acoustic presence of the body in space that is both fugitive and vertiginous. Since the beginning of this decade he recurrently uses this material; not for its primary function - sound and image - but for its physical properties of lightness and reflectivity. The unspooled tape, whether set in motion by motors and air currents or immobile in space, is deployed as if playing with constructed or random geometry (parallel lines, columns, loops…). Every structure created by the artist relaunches the dynamic forces present and proposes a perceptual experience that engages the whole body. Light, movement, gravity and enviro nment show themselves as the determinants of a work that creates itself, and as truly central to the artist's investigations.

In Flying tape, 2004 or Double O, 2008, the magnetic tape floats to the noise of industrial fans, creating random forms that give the works a marvellous hypnotic lightness. Whereas for Parallels, presented in 2007 at Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre, tape fixed in parallel lines beneath the ceiling of the exhibition space gives the piece the sensation of an infinite horizon, subtly changing and drawing on the contrast between black and white, stillness and movement, like a mirror inverting space.

Mobile sculptures, site-specific installations, the creation of sensations linked to movement and light - all these elements seem to connect Zilvinas Kempinas's work to the experimentations of 1950s and 1960s kinetic art. But Zilvinas Kempinas pushes the investigation on visible to an extreme. In effect, what is impressive and disconcerting is the way in which he manages to make us feel the limits, the tipping point of the work: from its inception to its collapse, its disappearance.

"Poetic, minimal, the artist then creates 'living' sculptures whose infra-thin form always succeeds in totally investing the space. From the depths of an unbearable lightness, Zilvinas Kempinas creates the monumental with minimal means, like a fleeting but spectacular act, a game with the void." *

The exhibition at Le Grand Café will present works conceived in 2008 and an installation previously unseen in France: Still, presented in 2003 at PS1 in New York. Slow Motion, produced during his residency at the Atelier Calder from January to June 2008, will also be shown. Finally, the Galerie des Franciscains will house for its part the installation Big O, playing on the monumentatility of the site.

This summer, Zilvinas Kempinas will also take part in Manifesta 7, European contemporary art biennial, in Italy from July 18 and in a group exhibition at MoMA Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco in August. The Kunsthalle Vienna will be showing Zilvinas Kempinas in a solo exhibition in autumn 2008.

* De Yodel à la physique quantique, Palais de Tokyo, Archibooks, Paris, 2007

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Zilvinas Kempinas

Kurator: Sophie Legrandjacques