Tuesday, February 24, 2015

'Robert Tombs/L'Occupation' Book Launch

Robert Tombs/L'Occupation is a 48-page bilingual book available in softcover and hardcover editions which documents Robert Tombs's installation at ParisCONCRET, Paris, in January 2013. Published in 2014, it was officially launched on February 24, 2015 at Carleton University Art Gallery with a wine and cheese reception from 6 to 8 pm. Robert Tombs and I made opening remarks.

Image: Robert Tombs/L'Occupation, Ottawa: L'Arène 2014. Photo: Robert Tombs, 2015.

The book contains my essay "Painting ‘After Painting’: The Critical Occupations of Robert Tombs," and an afterword by Richard van der Aa, director of the ParisCONCRET gallery. The French translation is by Denis Lessard.

My essay considers Tomb's practice of painted installations, leading up to his exhibition at ParisCONCRET. In his painted installations, from his ‘marking’ of Brigus in 2007, to his ‘occupation’ of Paris in 2013, Tombs continues the process of formalism’s entrenchment of its own capabilities into an area of competence so that, as everything gets pared away, the surface becomes infra-thin and incontinent, letting everything that has been pared away seep back in. His painted installations infect/affect the spaces they touch, and doubt seeps into the picture.

By connecting his occupation of ParisCONCRET to both the Occupy movement and the Nazi Occupation of France, Tombs not only complicates the space, but also implicates it. Tombs engages in an abstract kind of institutional critique that marks every surface it touches and seeps past its parameters, suggesting that a critique of painting can lead to a critique of society.

The essay built upon my earlier review of the exhibition, published in C Magazine 118.

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