"The future of images"
Through Horya Makhlouf, for Young Art Critics
At 23, Lenny Rébéré completed his last year of studies at the National School of Fine Arts after going to the Estienne school, where he trained in printmaking. Like a craftsman, he learned to use technique, to construct mathematical and rigorous perspectives, to think of the image in all its dimensions - both plastic and aesthetic - and in all its senses, that of the screen to be printed and the inverted one of the imprint left on the paper by the plate he learned to emboss. The keen sense of construction that he developed now serves as a work of permanent deconstruction and recomposition of images. His works are mysterious assemblages, striking objects built from fragments of images taken from the internet. Lenny observes, scalps, sews, and brings back to life what has become disembodied or dematerialized.
Images in the making
The images he recomposes vibrate with the stories of which each of the fragments that constitute them are carriers. Having become anonymous, drawn from the limbo of the Internet in which they moved according to the incantations of search engines, they are resuscitated by the artist who gives them a new body. He assembles an average of seven to eight images per composition, which he initially chooses on instinct, depending on the stories inspired by the positions of the characters. He ties them together like puzzle pieces and sometimes adds personal photographs to them, to complete the story being made, and also (maybe) finally make it his own.
Yet the silhouettes and faces that he makes appear on his paintings, his glass plates or in his videos remain strange and foreign. Jack-of-all-trades, he works in all mediums, but his characters everywhere seem worried, their expressions mysterious, neither completely calm nor completely impassive. Often from behind, or the face in the hands, sometimes deformed by the drawing, sometimes by the transparencies or reflections that come to interfere in the representation, they are both anonymous and familiar. The silhouettes are ghosts, appearances that refuse to give themselves entirely. Their prints on the medium chosen by the artist seem fragile, evanescent.
They are done in charcoal on paper or on canvas, in oil and color paint, or in India ink on glass, but, on whatever medium they print, they never do. spend there. They constantly disrupt and break the lines. First, those of the architectures in which they are part, whose solid perspective they break by introducing doubt: in what space are these shadows really located? Then it is the timelines that they make waver.
In the strange space of the above work (Untitled, 2017, Oil on canvas, 130 × 192 cm), the characters resemble the subjects of a photograph taken too long to take, recorded by a shutter open too long, which could only have captured their passage and the traces it would have left on the paper. Time stops and passes in and on these spaces that the mind has difficulty in recomposing.
Lenny Rébéré's compositions are meticulous constructions in perpetual evolution. Erasure or appearance? The image is not clear, it is crossed by reflections and defragmented by the plans which accumulate. These latter are ambivalent, they dig both the depth of space and underline its flatness, they designate it as an in-between at the limit of two worlds: that of images, virtual and in two dimensions, and ours. , embodied, real, and three-dimensional. In Untitled (2017, pencil and charcoal on paper, 70x100cm, work below), the immense hall pierced by large Italian-style windows under which random bodies seem to advance digs the space by skilfully vanishing lines. arranged, but at the same time flattens it so much the grain of the charcoal that drew it seems volatile, and the effects of transparency created by the artist blur any material certainty ...
In a constant back and forth between the two extremes, Lenny Rébéré's works deploy an autonomous reality and create another space, strange and familiar, near and far, deep and flat, which seem to take on the double function that Michel Foucault perceived in his heterotopias:
"Or they [heterotopias] have the role of creating a space of illusion which denounces as even more illusory all real space, all the locations within which human life is partitioned. […] Or, on the contrary, creating another space, another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours is messy, badly arranged and messy. "
From the computer and virtual flow from which he extracted them, Lenny Rébéré transports his images to an alternative space, from which they are as much real reflections as distorting mirrors.
In a language of images
Because the elements, observed separately, are recognizable. Together, however, they recompose a whole that is difficult to materialize. The art of assemblage practiced by Lenny Rébéré resembles caprice, this genre very fashionable during the Renaissance in which artists tried to compose sets from pre-existing architectural or ornamental motifs. From familiar architectural elements - a staircase, a column, a landing ... -, Piranese, in his famous series of Prisons, recomposed fantastic architectures, physically impossible, pure products of an overflowing imagination coming to feed an architecture of paper, never intended to be built. In the same way, Lenny Rébéré draws from the repertory of images offered to him by the Internet the fragments which are then used for his own compositions. Isolating there a silhouette of a woman leaning forward, here the frame of a window or even a group of characters in the middle of a party, he finally reorganizes these details into a whole in which they form a new visual phrase.
True palimpsests, his works form a language, made up of pictorial words whose meaning is disguised as the manipulations go. For the viewer, however, this language remains coded. Unless you convince the artist to entrust the origin, there is no way of knowing who was this woman who was looking out the window at the party from which she was held apart, nor what the latter came about. celebrate… And the spectator stops, scrutinizes, and tries to guess what Lenny Rébéré likes to keep secret.
Moreover, his works no longer even have a title. A few years ago, they adopted the url of the image that inspired them. Since then, the source has faded, and only the figures and the architectures in which they appear remain. All that remains are these enigmatic, mysterious, ambiguous images, which are always hole-in-the-wall stories, of those in which anyone can become the hero, and choose the action to come, from what the artist finally leaves almost to the point. state of sketch.
Characters in search of an author
Lenny Rébéré's images are theatrical scenes on which the drama seems about to erupt. For now, however, the calm is absolute. In the setting he has set, the characters he has arranged seem to be waiting for the author who will write their lines. The apparitions become the actors of a dream theater of which the artist becomes the director. His paintings are to be understood in the double sense of the word: they are those of the artist at the same time as those of the theater - in the world of which, precisely, the word designates the arrangement of the stage on which the acts will follow one another.
In front of them the spectator can choose to become active, and also take on a role: that of the playwright who will write the dialogues about to happen. Nowhere is the reception oriented or the script written in advance. Freedom is total, offered in the shimmering setting of the thousand reflections that make the surface of his glass works shine. Lenny Rébéré denies wanting to impose anything through his images, preferring, he explains, “to be a simple spectator of society”, and to deliver through them the observations he can make of them. Through fragments that he recomposes and inserts into fantastically familiar compositions, Lenny Rébéré hopes rather to encourage questions than to take sides. On the mirror, the spectator sees the bodies engraved by the artist but also his own reflection, and finally those of the world around him. The association of the two, although fortuitous and perhaps as evanescent as the works, invites us to think of a whole in which every detail counts. It is through them that meaning is finally born, that stories and beauty are constructed.
Lenny Rébéré's paintings catch the eye. They are an ambivalent and marvelous well in the background of which mix together images already taken and others to come, stories already written and others to be imagined. Both tranquil and disturbing, they are a middle ground, the threshold that finally separates life from its performance, but perhaps also from dreams.
Lenny Rébéré's works give images a second life. They open up a new world for us, and invite us to meditate on the Incipit d'Aurélia by Gérard de Nerval under a still revived prism:
"The Dream is a second life. I could not pierce without shuddering these ivory or horn doors which separate us from the invisible world. The first moments of sleep are the image of death; a nebulous numbness seizes our thoughts. , and we cannot determine the precise moment when the ego, in another form, continues the work of existence. at night the pale, gravely motionless figures that inhabit the living room of limbo. Then the picture is formed, a new light illuminates and brings into play these bizarre appearances; - the world of Spirits opens up for us. "