Francia | Instalación | Guillaume Leblon

Arquitecturas antropológicas emocionales

Materialidad, arquitectura antropocentrista, huellas, indicios, espacio y tiempo presente. Compleja de definir, la obra de Leblon es registro de existencias múltiples, pero en definitiva el hacer humano está siempre tangible e inmanente.

Upon trying to figure out Leblon’s work, the singularity of Carlo Ginzburg’s indiciary paradigm came to my mind. It is tracker to know that involves breaking away from generalizations of reality that are clouded by those very generalizations. How do I reach that connection? I particularly focus on the idea of a vestige, which I see almost as a constant search in the artist’s work. They are remnants of existence and records of life.

Leblon is like a tracker of all insignificant things, or things that seem insignificant, but, in reality, aren’t because they are important signs of our existence as human beings. Based on the record of some worn out stairs, the materiality of said object is the depiction of the recording of time and the wear attained by thousands of feet that have walked through that same space for, perhaps, years. We may not know the quantitative aspects, but they have been evoked. It doesn’t matter if we illustrate it with the action of walking across these stairs again; rather we expose the singularity of our vestiges of life, like records of the passage of time.

We could talk about mini-histories surrounding the objects chosen and depicted by the artist in order to break away from the generalization of what ordinary people consider insignificant and that, in the artist’s eyes, becomes unique, unrepeatable, exceptional and surprising.

That which seems to be irrelevant to others, becomes an expression of signs and signals of life in the eyes of Leblon. We often try to link the artist’s work with minimal art or Anglo-Saxon conceptual art, which couldn’t be more incorrect. So, this is what I would like to talk about: conceptualisms and minimalisms, since from the perspective of the major exponents of Latin American contemporary art, they are two very different interpretations. It isn’t accidental that we prefer to quote the work of Félix González Torres (FGT) when it comes to connecting Leblon’s work, since FGT plays with the meaning of his pieces from an emotional standpoint that is loaded with expressions of life, where the concept is exceeded by emotion and this, in turn, transcends the object.

For Latin Americans, emotions and ideologies are seen as a continuous starting point to foster a pensive audience. In Leblon’s case, materiality is the record of our activities as human beings, surpassing the purely conceptual approach in order to fill his pieces with life and the expression of time. They are the vestiges of our time on earth. They are easily recognizable, but in our everyday lives, they go unnoticed. They are the indications of our lives that the sum of all, the materials collapse and break down, and time destroys all.

In regards to time and space which also make up part of the starting point for this artist’s investigations, his architectural constructions in unusual places show our existence on Earth. This accomplishment brings about an enigmatic feeling in the viewer, since by just modifying the usually location of things, he manages to break away from that ordinariness that makes everything normal. That is how it is possible to find ourselves in a small space in an art gallery on the middle of the sidewalk of said place, when our experience is invaded, thus destabilizing what is common. For pieces of furniture, time is what dwells within them. They have faults, they are unstable and are inhabited by other materials, but one thing is certain, they are of man’s creation. Human activity is a constant in the objects chosen by the artist. It is our representation as creators, but paradoxically, our activities just like us, are finite. Time is the winner in the fight for durability; everything can be destroyed.

Here, there are no gestures. The material isn’t long-lasting, rather it is a canvas of the the passage of time, the work that we see, talks about the present but also invites us to think about the future. Nothing is by chance and existentialism invades everything. It is about our condition as humans, our freedom and our responsibility. It is instinctive, like the genealogy of a memory. Leblon constructs that inherit memory through the destruction and the decline of the objects, which transcend our cultural horizons and awaken forgotten knowledge. It recognizes that which we can’t see due to our nature through surprise. Through this, he creates a new awakening in the association of who we are.

Leblon is like an archeologist of strange and abandoned environments that somehow manages to set our present-day reality in stone. Here, our reality seems to be fictional and it misplaces us as viewers. We see the objects, we recognize them, but that instability disturbs us. The unfinished –or maybe what seems unfinished to us– becomes clear to us. It speaks to us about fragility and ephemerality. Here, I would prefer to mention an artistic approach where that depicted isn’t the vision of the world and its knowledge, but rather an extension of reality.

That is why this artist’s work is so disturbing. We have a ton of clues, but we can’t tell if it is a fictional story or a deconstruction of reality –also because our senses plays to cheating us, frequently and radically. That materiality of meager elements arises from the artist’s choice of objects that he finds around him, in his studio. He uses clay, earth, bricks, wood, plaster, felt, cardboard, glass, and concrete to build dysfunctional structures where rigidity, lightness and intangibility coexist. Leblon’s work is complex and hard to define. This is why his work is groundbreaking and elusive. The viewer that hopes to explain it has to be pensive, since they will face recognizable forms from our everyday lives, which under a different context lose their familiarity in the artist’s creative composition. This leaves room for the implicit question regarding his work: What are we looking at?

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