A few years ago, in a museum, a friend confessed to me that he expected art works to love him. The works of art, he was saying with composure, were supposed to bond with him, to appreciate him and manifest goodwill feelings towards him. On that moment I pretended not to understand. Art works certainly didn’t like me. Moreover, according to me, you should not expect anything in particular from art works. In a condescending way I told him it was in this way that you should really receive an artwork. Obviously, today, I admit that a part of me still insidiously waits for something. Facing an artwork, I sometimes struggle against my expectations, against my most instinctive needs. I also enjoy satisfying them fully, deeply and shamelessly. It isn’t noble, it’s impure, it’s childish. But due to spendings hours complaining about the state of the world, here is what I await from art : no irony, but enchantment and some magic. As a result of scrolling, surfing and sliding on smooth screens I dream in spite of me, not of surfaces but of sticky objects, incarnated and sensual, of stings, of tangible glosses and size reduced delicacies.
I take a fresh look at this friend’s confession: I remain touched by this old and romantic idea that the love the artist poured during the creation of an artwork could infuse in it and then diffuse like a fragrance (a love potion?). I still don’t believe that artworks can like me, but am convinced that some of them have the ability of becoming my intimates by taking a step towards me. The artworks of Diane Severin Nguyen and Julien Monnerie have this strength. They alienate me to the tenderness of the gesture which shaped them, slow, imperfect but precise.
In Julien Monnerie’s work, actions of polishing, welding and construction by assembly, give birth to his sculptures, almost outshine their shapes, their symbolic, and celebrate an expertise of craftsmanship. I see these sculptures without really seeing them as my gaze slides on them. Then I only want one thing, like a child going to the museum : to touch, caress and move them. The tin weldings crackle and, like on an electric network, run across a cake tin. This one has been made by the artist following a residency he attended at Tartaix, a brass specialist. As to the linden hat shapes, they have been drawn by the artist, made by the shaper Lorenzo Ré and finally waxed by the the shoeshine studio Atelier Pavin. Their gloss (english green and burnt aubergine) hides but doesn’t cover the wood veins. Julien likes meeting defined and quite confidential knowledge holders. He’s interested in fading persistencies and traditions which, in the globalized capitalism background, still remain singular and unformatted. Besides being an artist, he refines knifes on a daily basis and knows recipes from all over the globe.
Diane’s images also have this ability to arouse a tactile desire. Like an AMSR slime mould video, an immediate proximity, a feeling of hyper-presence and empathy regarding represented textures settles in, despite their distance. The camera is an eye, a hand, a nose and a tongue, reveling in a delicious and regressive orgy of a thou- sand textures. Vegan jelly, animals hair, human hair, oils, spines, lotus flowers... Diane manipulates textures and materials like a child plays with food, or even like one rubs flint stones together. It sparkles. Here, residual mate- rials, physical or non-human, and often considered as “dirty” are transfigured through photography : they become million facets jewels; with gleaming conglomerates of rave party colours, akin to a cooking shop or a swamp. These are not really still lives anymore, or at any rate, they reveal the obsolescence of this designation: the artist’s still lives are alive, almost human, contagious, moist as a mouth, shiny as a filament and HD as a pulsating plasma screen. They break the iron jaws which torment reality and, as they leave their aluminium frame, zoom in on the debris of a non-human or almost human, magical world of a thousand secrets.
— Julie Ackermann