Karsten Greve

Brassaï & Dubuffet

02 Apr - 21 May 2011

Graffiti de la Série V, Animaux: Chimère, 1933-1956
Gelatin silver print
50.8 x 40 cm / 20 x 15.7 in
Frame: 53 x 42 x 3.5 cm
2 April - 21 May, 2011

The Karsten Greve Gallery with the support of the Dubuffet Foundation, is pleased to pay homage to the artists Brassaï and Jean Dubuffet in the context of an exhibition that reveals for the first time a reflection on a theme that connects them in a rather astonishing way - "Graffiti". Brassaï and Dubuffet approach the city as though it were a large prehistoric cave, as spectators of a wild and anarchic society stripped of any kind of aestheticism.

Equipped with his camera, Brassaï captured ordinary traces of the inhabitants of Paris' streets beginning in the 1930's, thus discovering a hidden and unsuspected, though omnipresent expression. Dubuffet, incorporated the materiality and the texture of daily life on his canvasses, on paper and in lithography. In his opinion, the materiality does not show differences between human beings and their urban lifestyle. Human creatures are depicted, preferably in front of walls, detached from the space, stuck vertically "like posters, neither more nor less alive than the graffiti they resemble so much, they could be mistaken for it".

Setting off in search of real and imminent life, but through spontaneous and urban photos - the best known being his night shots - Brassaï (1899 - 1984) was fascinated by the phenomenon of graffiti, which reflects an irresistible and existential need to inscribe one's presence in matter, thus immortalising the unconscious soul born of wounds and hope. In his figures, animals and in his shrunken, deformed and violently collapsed, wrinkled and cracked faces, Brassai discovered a frightening magic through this primitive form of expression that questions the role of man, of nature, of death and love while at the same time inviting the eye and this encounter with the unknown.

Offering another perspective to the definition of "Graffiti", the exhibition will also reserve a large place for a lithographic series by Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) inspired by the poems "The Walls" by Eugène Guillevic that he worked on starting in January 1945. Dubuffet often sought to create a dialogue between his works and literature. The wall, an element that is already present in his work, not only takes on importance at the figurative and textual levels, but is also manifest technically in the form of direct engravings on a solid lithographic stone that becomes a wall. Scraped, scratched and slashed, "the wall seems (to him) like a book, an ample book, on which one can write and read".

Two major post war artists are herein being featured: Brassaï, a less known member, though an important one, of the Surrealist movement, and Dubuffet, who was at the origins of Art Brut.

Tags: Brassaï, Jean Dubuffet