Tentatives, métaphores & autres digressions / Sylvain Ciavaldini

from February 20th to April 4th 2015

Since the 1990s, Sylvain Ciavaldini has developed a shifting world in which form is examined from every angle and in all its possibilities. Drawings, sculptures and installations underline the convulsive, unpredictable character of form. The artist questions the origins of creation, the path from idea to hand and the many conceptions of the birth of form. How is it born? How can it be defined, asserted and structured within the frame of the canvas or the sheet of paper, within the space of the studio or the exhibition?

Sylvain Ciavaldini addresses the moment of creation: mental (immaterial) and physical (material). Though he reflects on the artist as a creator of forms and ideas, he is more interested in what becomes of form: its potential for evolving and proliferating, its variations, movements, extensions and hybridizations. His two- and three-dimensional pieces display his research on the indivisible relationship between hand and form: the work of the hand that leads forms to emerge.

For Sylvain Ciavaldini, form is a living, mutating organism. Thus, shape and the shapeless are connected. Form, with its structured outlines, is associated with the shapeless, defined as a raw material, a substance untouched by hand or tool. The shapeless therefore acts as a springboard: it is the genesis of form. Architectures featuring angular, straight and geometric shapes are combined with a series of shapeless puddles, smoke, drips, heaps of matter and tubers, in a constant interplay between order and disorder. The titles of the works feed the artist’s reflection on the way forms are conceived, shaped and evolve: “Form changes and it only realizes its ‘finiteness’ if you define its purpose. To produce is in no way to define, but solely to propose in order to better understand”; “Transitory spaces stimulate propagation and effectively enable transformation, evolution, diversity; they suggest strange combinations.” Titles are the starting point of theoretical essays in progress. Words and forms emerge, echoing each other. The artist generates interdependent forms by connecting them with sticks, rhizomes, bubbles, threads, branches, pipework. The shapeless slips between the meshes of squared structures, escapes from cathedrals and splashes onto checkerboards. It sticks on walls, seeps in, extends outlines by unraveling, flowing or exploding. It can also emerge from its environment, from the top or the bottom of the composition. Thus, it embraces rigidity, grabs hold of it and enjoys infinite evolution. The artist imagines various plastic mechanisms to generate new forms.

Two ways of considering drawing and volume are brought together here: on the one hand, a conception of mastery in which the hand controls every detail, and on the other hand, a conception guided by letting-go. By extension, the artist elaborates a dichotomous reflection on the notions of the conscious and the subconscious, the normal and the abnormal, order and chaos, system and confusion, the known and the unknown, stability and instability. Techniques and approaches vary, elements can be presented in an academic and hyperrealistic manner, while others are endowed with fluctuating, organic and unpredictable outlines. These discordant territories are connected by a recurring motif: the artist’s hands. Hands generate form as an extension of the artist’s body, as what comes out of him. Because opposites attract, oppose and complete each other, these hands draw from various territories of art history and popular culture. The artist collects images from newspapers, books and on the internet to put together an atlas of shapes and subjects he can then combine as he pleases. Digging into the heap of images we are confronted with daily, the artist extracts those he will transcribe onto paper or into space. In his drawings and watercolours, his hands give shape to shapeless matter, which acts here as a synonym for creative intuition and imagination, in order to generate a system of images, structures and organisms. When his hands are not shown, they may be replaced by tubular or machine-like shapes from which forms emerge.

Sylvain Ciavaldini juggles with the contradictions that make up our lives, our relationship with the world and creativity. By experimenting on the manipulation of images and forms, he reflects upon the very foundations of artistic creation. Each of his works can be seen as a cadavre exquis, in which one form summons another. His work shifts the gaze and the imagined. Its boundless freedom constantly opens new doors and new perspectives.


press release - FR (PDF)

press kit - FR (PDF)