Latence, 2011, Lait et encre sur verre, sous cadre
Exhibition from may 4th to june 16th 2012
The gallery is happy to present the first solo exhibition of Ismaïl Bahri. For the past ten years this artist has been living between Paris and Tunis. He creates a singular universe by mixing oriental culture with philosophical and conceptual European references. The formal base of his work questions artistic problems.
At first you can’t see anything. A glass, a reflection, then a hand picking it up. Then, on the surface of the dark liquid, a few waves form, tremors. The glass overflows, the ink spreads over the skin, escapes, in fits and starts, over the thumb and the fingers. Seconds pass. The ink keeps on running away. It is almost unreal, it flows, it leaves its mark around it; the glass doesn’t empty. Infinitesimal, it’s just drops, and yet it has already invaded its surface.
A few seconds more, then a building, a tree perhaps, moved into the negative of black ink, through the axis if symmetry of the reflection; the reverse image of our world emerges. The amazing journey of Orientations, an emblematic Ismaïl Bahri video, can start. Because in this journey across the city, with the surface of a glass as the sole skyline, all the issues of an unusual work are played out, a work which takes hold of the infinitesimal solely to show its possible giddiness.
His polymorphous art passes by way of photography, video, drawing and installation, as so many ways of re-enacting the act of “withdrawal”, of bringing about, if not an event, then at the very least an opposite posture. And if the artist’s approach seems elusive, mistrusting codes and representation, it is in no way an evasion. Because the withdrawal leaves a trace, or, as he himself puts it, “attracts attention through the very fact that it pulls back1”. It is precisely this modesty at work which turns his work into something that gives rise to possibilities of sense.