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Gravity // Marc Henri Garcia // 2018

Gilles Teboul's painting is the perfect hybridization between a mirror, a wallpaper image, a post-minimal painting and a tutorial of nail art. It brilliantly synthesizes the avant gardes, all the while giving off just the right amount of sensual aroma from Pop and Kitsch.A veritable tart-flavored sweet for the layman, in which the art historian will certainly see a natural descendant of John McCracken, Dan Flavin or Donald Judd.Maintaining a certain distance from the preoccupations of the...

Gilles Teboul's painting is the perfect hybridization between a mirror, a wallpaper image, a post-minimal painting and a tutorial of nail art. It brilliantly synthesizes the avant gardes, all the while giving off just the right amount of sensual aroma from Pop and Kitsch.
A veritable tart-flavored sweet for the layman, in which the art historian will certainly see a natural descendant of John McCracken, Dan Flavin or Donald Judd.
Maintaining a certain distance from the preoccupations of the Marfa Group, Gilles evokes not only the inventions of the early 21st century, such as the computer ergonomics of Jonathan Ive, famous designer of Apple, but also those of Francesco del Tintore concerning Still Life and the codes of the Vanities at the beginning of the 17th century. His shiny, laquered, ordered images, like the wall paper of the OS X whose delicate shading attenuates the use of fluorescent colors, are made up of pigments bonded together by an acrylic resin which the artist lets the canvas absorb for many hours. A system of blocks allows gravity to carry out its work while the artist, with a background in photography, waits patiently for the given moment, the moment of revelation. Indeed, Gille Teboul's work demonstrates the time spent in the workshop, even in the laboratory, where he collaborated with a chemical engineer to develop his very original technique.
This empirical approach to art is the fruit of several years of research. It is work that requires surgical precision in the face of almost insurmountable physical constraints.
Although it is inherent to practice, the aim of this new 5UN7 proposition is not the technique itself, but rather the extremely generous plasticity of Gilles Teboul's painting. Words cannot suffice in the face of the pleasure felt by its contemplation.

Painting // Itzhak Goldberg // 2016

It was probably inevitable. For a long time, Gilles Teboul has claimed that he is seeking to put the painter’s gesture at a distance, using techniques of retreat, subtraction, what he calls the « non gesture ». By erasing, scraping off part of the matter which covers his canvases, he causes the undercoat of paint to rise to the surface.With his recent paintings, he goes as far as to abolish any gestural implication of the artist in the production. The paintings are laid flat, balanced on...

It was probably inevitable. For a long time, Gilles Teboul has claimed that he is seeking to put the painter’s gesture at a distance, using techniques of retreat, subtraction, what he calls the « non gesture ». By erasing, scraping off part of the matter which covers his canvases, he causes the undercoat of paint to rise to the surface.
With his recent paintings, he goes as far as to abolish any gestural implication of the artist in the production. The paintings are laid flat, balanced on blocks. Teboul pours on paint which spreads over the surface without his intervening in its trajectory.
Thus, the creator’s role in this fabrication is extremely limited and the work is almost entirely created at the moment of its conception. The artist is divested of his actions and set at a distance from his realizations. In other words, the physical act of painting gives way to a procedure where color, in the purist acheiropoïetic tradition, distributes itself on the canvas. This Greek term means ‘not made by the hand of man, miraculously’.
A miracle indeed, because in general, a work is an artefact whose origin can be discovered through the study of intermediate steps, sketches, preparatory drawings, from all the work, stroke by stroke, which designates it as a human production.
In this instance, when the opaque acrylic binder used by Teboul is definitively fixed, the image jumps out and reveals itself, without unveiling the secrets of its production.
Monochromes? In appearance only, because the captivated eye discovers all the rich tonalities which vibrate under the surfaces. These translucid canvases function like an aquatic mirror in which the spectator sees his reflection emerge.
Let us be reassured though. Teboul is not a magician nor is he a mystic.

He is a painter who reveals the work done behind the scenes with a series of photographs called Peinture, which he has compiled over more than 15 years. By « recycling » his worn materials, he ressuscitates them in a way. The shots showing canvases packaged up and folded, are tangible proof that an artistic gesture, however careful and distant it holds itself, always finds its origins in matter.

 

On Painting // Itzhak Goldberg // 2013

These days, if one thing remains more difficult than writing about abstract painting, it is producing it. Nonfiguration, this form of experimentation which has traversed the art of the twentieth century, having overthrown the consecrated system of representation, seems to have neared its limit. After innumerable possible variations, whether they be lyrical or geometric, gestual or biomorphic, heavy-handed or minimalist, abstraction has often become repetitive, decorative and affected, not to...

These days, if one thing remains more difficult than writing about abstract painting, it is producing it. Nonfiguration, this form of experimentation which has traversed the art of the twentieth century, having overthrown the consecrated system of representation, seems to have neared its limit. After innumerable possible variations, whether they be lyrical or geometric, gestual or biomorphic, heavy-handed or minimalist, abstraction has often become repetitive, decorative and affected, not to say hollow. Somtimes it contemplates itself, inspects itself. Sometimes, it performs a self-autopsy. One needs a certain amount of courage or unconsciousness in such a landscape to choose this mode of expression. 

In this context, Gilles Teboul’s aim is less to create a new esthetic order than to construct a personal work, composed of variations whose subject always remains the hidden side of the painting. Without having explicit recourse  to a serial technique, the artist works in what could be called a « vertical » manner, not seeking to spread out on the surface but to plunge deep underneath. His sequences never become a goal in themselves, the demonstration of a coherent series, a puzzle whose parts all find their precise place. With rigor but no rigidity, each canvas in its own way, addresses the relationship between form and background, the full and the empty, opacity and transparency – all problems which appear simple but which are confronted by painting since time immemorial, a source of dispair and force. In the age of recycling, rough materials, mistreated by artists, the diverse assemblages often make museums ressemble storage spaces. Here, each canvas creates its own space and radiates a singular aura. 

Quite logically, it is this discretion, this manner of entering the material which establishes itself for a long period at the heart of Teboul’s productions. Work by subtraction, where the erasures of part of the black matter which covers the canvases make the white traces rise to the surface. Painting by countdown ? In a chromatic striptease, the curves and scrollwork, both trajectory and process, sketch a drawing in the back and forth movements of the hand, constructing a serpentine motif.

Free flowing or recomposed, these undulations or paths of light are like the uncertain lines of a moving, subjective cartography.  To use Jacque Dupin’s phrase about Giacometti : it is the strokes which « don’t outline anything, don’t clarify anything, but which cause things to emerge ».

In his latest works, the approach has become slightly modified, as Gilles Teboul says with great precision : « I superimpose the layers (the final one being gray) according to the drying times which are complex and difficult to control, then I proceed by REMOVAL, using a mechanical gesture,  which maintains the painter’s gesture at a distance with this « non gesture ». The risk involved is maximal because I can intervene only once. »

As opposed to « black and white paintings », these « gray paintings » offer little contrast. In the same way, from the path of the lines which progress on the canvases like vectors of movement, a more unified treatment of the whole is substituted. The surfaces are covered over with open, trembling geometric shapes, with a network of irregular squares, like truncated mosaics. The colors, instead of remaining captive between the lines, begin to float lightly. Depending on the chromatic relationships, we feel like we are seeing an advance or a retreat or even the illusion of an overhang. The dusting of light into droplets, the strokes of black and white, form zones of uncertainty where the clear visual observation gives way to a fumbling gaze. 

The experimentation with painting continues with gray silver monochromes, but they are ‘frustrated’. By taping bands on the edges of the canvas, by fixing a frame for the color, Teboul introduces a constraint in the pictorial variant which art history has consecrated as absolute abstraction without limits. Whatever the case, the artist ceaselessly questions his relationship to his materials, to the blending of colors, to their method of application to the canvas, to the spots of light, in short, to the pleasure of this tactile action which painting has always offered. Nonetheless, the principal tool used by Teboul to explore the flesh of the painting is located elsewhere, in photogaphy. Photography is a medium whose surface is smooth, almost disembodied, which transforms tactile into visible, but which makes it possible to reveal all the asperities contained in the pictorial matter, the least little hollow and the most subtile relief. This effect is all the more striking in that the artist has chosen to photograph the material as if seen through a microscope. However, it is not, as we might expect, simply a detail of one of his works, a ‘zooming in’ such as those often seen in art books. Teboul’s materials are found on both sides of the creative process : both the worn and conserved tools of production, (tubes, pots, gloves, palettes) ; and the crusts and opercula, crumbs gathered after an artistic feast, forsaken waste, in short, the leftovers of the pictorial banquet. The artist affirms that, by reframing these materials which are indispensable to painting, in his camera, he recreates a painting. Is it a ressurectional gesture to confront the prophecies which have so often announced the death of painting ?

One last look at painting. In fact, very little is required. We need only caress the color for it to give off a discretely sensual vibration. We need only introduce spots of light in the intervals between the forms in order to avoid rigidity. In short, very little is necessary to create a painting which breathes. 

Itzhak Goldberg
Professor of Art History at the University Jean Monnet, Saint Etienne - France

Painting in the negative // Itzhak Goldberg // 2011

Gilles Teboul uses the term ‘erasing’ when speaking of his recent paintings. It’s nothing scandalous at first glance. For a long time, negation of the form has been a constituent element of modernity. One need only evoke the famous example of Rauschenberg who, in an iconoclastic gesture, erases a drawing by de Kooning. Moreover, the nonfigurative appelation clearly indicates that contemporary art is crisscrossed by a constant refusal ; the same de Kooning, when speaking of artists of his...

Gilles Teboul uses the term ‘erasing’ when speaking of his recent paintings. It’s nothing scandalous at first glance. For a long time, negation of the form has been a constituent element of modernity. One need only evoke the famous example of Rauschenberg who, in an iconoclastic gesture, erases a drawing by de Kooning. Moreover, the nonfigurative appelation clearly indicates that contemporary art is crisscrossed by a constant refusal ; the same de Kooning, when speaking of artists of his generation, declares that they spend less time defining « what can be painted and more time talking about what can not be painted. ». Often, creators take the paradox to its extreme degree, making this fundamentally negating process the core of their production.

But is ‘erasing’ the real subject here? Not completely if we refer to the dictionary definition of this activity as one whose aim is to make that which was marked disappear without a trace. It is true that Teboul’s scraping technique erases the top coat of color covering the canvas, but this naked exposure creates serpentine lines which snake across the surface. In other words, the white tracks incrusted in the black background are not traced by the painting but they are its trace.

Can we thus speak about reserves? This procedure, which attained nobility with Cézanne, consists in allowing the artist to make the concealed parts of the painting appear : the preparation or the prime coat. Nonetheless, this passive componant, in counter relief, usually contents itself with a modest role, as if in retreat.

 Here, everything brings us to think that Gilles Teboul is negotiating a reversal of roles ; by actively fabricating the reserve, by digging into the paint or underneath the painting, he reveals another one which becomes the true subject of the work.

 The artist undoubtedly knows that in drawings with washes or waterpaints, the reserves correspond to light parts of the composition ; they are more intense than the white obtained with pigment. We then say, reserving the light. In other terms, with Gilles Teboul, by coming up to the surface level, by becoming visible, the reserve shows no more reserve.   

The photographer as painter or painting as resistance // P.P.A. // 2001

Gilles Teboul is a painter. When he takes photographs, he does so in reference to painting, in a metonymic manner. How so ? By recycling his painting materials which are worn out and dead: gloves, the bottoms of pots, paint crusts, opercula, tubes and palettes, gathered together and archived for more than ten years. What emerges are rigorous, abstract compositions, whose starkness is perfectly set off by a cold light resulting from the photographic technique... on behalf of painting. Gilles...

Gilles Teboul is a painter. When he takes photographs, he does so in reference to painting, in a metonymic manner. How so ? By recycling his painting materials which are worn out and dead: gloves, the bottoms of pots, paint crusts, opercula, tubes and palettes, gathered together and archived for more than ten years. What emerges are rigorous, abstract compositions, whose starkness is perfectly set off by a cold light resulting from the photographic technique... on behalf of painting. Gilles Teboul wants to take up the challenge of painting, an art which has been announced theoretically dead by institutions any number of times. Recycling has indeed become a process of resistance and renewal. This photographic series has been ironically entitled: « Painting » ...
Ironically? No, legitimately. 

Gilles Teboul or painting as armed resistance // Sacha Tarassoff // 2000

Gilles Teboul is one of those artists who have taken up the challenge of painting, even though its theoretical death was often proclaimed in the last century. Resisting the most recent endeavors to set him apart, particularly institutional ones, Gilles Teboul would like to offer pictorial proof of the persistance of painting from the inside. In order to do so, he staunchly seeks to test its boundaries: through horizontal passageways which are a large number of furrows, almost mechanically...

Gilles Teboul is one of those artists who have taken up the challenge of painting, even though its theoretical death was often proclaimed in the last century. Resisting the most recent endeavors to set him apart, particularly institutional ones, Gilles Teboul would like to offer pictorial proof of the persistance of painting from the inside.

In order to do so, he staunchly seeks to test its boundaries: through horizontal passageways which are a large number of furrows, almost mechanically repeated in the coats offering paradoxical blends of ivory black and titanium white, through numerous scrapings, subtractions of matter and shapes. His large canvases or his papers are the result of this erasure and they act as the revealer of this limit where painting resists. The place where all imagery becomes absent, all color neutralized – exclusive use of non colors –, all gestures eliminated, every canvas is a random state of painting in de-construction. These snapshots of painting have a carnal presence that Gilles Teboul, also a photographer, denies to photography which, even in its guise of art, still remains smooth, distant and aseptic, a prisoner of the limits of its own medium.

Moreover, when he takes photographs, it is once again in reference to painting in a metonymic way, by staging his painting tools in unexpected, abstract compositions, (the series on display at the Bruno Delarue Gallery in 2000) and ironically called, « Painting ».
Because all senses are mobilised, the painting of Gilles Teboul resists, producing an irreducible pleasure, even and especially when it is pushed to the extremes, to the limits of its own destruction.