Galerie Quynh is pleased to present Echoing Scars, a solo exhibition by French mixed-media artist Thierry Bernard-Gotteland. On view from May 12 to June 2, the show will be the last to take place at our Dong Khoi space before relocation to a larger gallery in the fall.
With Echoing Scars, Bernard-Gotteland, known for visceral, defiant works that use language and lore from both popular culture and sub-cultures (most notably cinema and extreme metal) to deliberate on the metaphysical, takes as a starting point the examination of the dichotomy between the universal and the individual, between rules of nature and man’s free will. At first glance, the site-specific exhibition seems to be pervaded by an absolution. The gallery space is divided into two symmetrical halves bathed in light and darkness; artwork arrangements are governed by rigorous geometrical rules. The liminal centre of the exhibition, a suspended painting depicting an image from a Nike TV ad – that of an athlete successfully executing one of the most difficult gymnastic moves, the phrase ‘I Can Master Pain’ proudly running across the screen – is deliberately left unfinished, its skeletal sketches harkening back to humble origins, rather than glorious, technicolour-broadcast realisations, seemingly speaking of the futility of such ideological dreams.
The common thread running through all the works is a sense of self-reflection, of past incarnations being unearthed, examined. While the ominous neon lighting reveals old layers of the gallery walls – repainted after each exhibition – a curtain sewn with thirteen used, locally-donated metal T-shirts (the Fibonacci sequence comes into play here, its traces to be found elsewhere in the show) forms an ode to both collective memories of a whole generation of Vietnamese youth and the encompassing personal stories. Soundtracked by an audio collage meticulously put together with screams and screeches from hundreds of metal songs, the life of a metalhead is reconstructed in front of us. As Bernard-Gotteland’s penchant for conceptual practices is layered with newfound poignancy, the grandiose mythologies of his previous exhibition at the gallery, A Physical Obedience of a Certain Geometry [Nihil Sublime] (2011), are here distilled into individual chapters. Incomplete as they are, bound not to last, do these chapters – myths in the making – give meaning to a life?
Colliding the past with the present, Echoing Scars serves as a fitting end to one chapter while hinting at prospects of all tomorrows.