Roland Flexner: Skull-Smoke

11 March - 9 April 2011 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Nathalie Obadia is very pleased to present a third solo exhibition of Roland Flexner's work in Space II of her Paris gallery, marking ten years of collaboration with the artist.

 After an exhibition devoted to "Sumis" in 2006, this new exhibition presents a set of seven photographs that Roland Flexner recently developed in his New York studio, reinvesting the theme of the vanitas that has run through his work for more than thirty years - from graphite drawings inspired by the paintings of Philippe de Champaigne, to the figures in "Pleurants" from the 1990s, to the "Bubbles" and "Sumis" of the 2000s.

 Working in the mode of repetition and variation on the privileged motifs of the "memento mori" that are the skull and the smoke, this series of photographs is based on a simple principle of execution. As the smoke from a cigar or cigarette is exhaled rapidly through a small skull placed on a table, the artist takes the photograph the second the smoke pattern suits him - a process that makes the image unique. The resulting image suggests the precariousness of earthly existence in the face of the passage of time, while leaving the viewer to face the enigma of a symmetrical and seductive image whose appearance is reminiscent of the Rorschach tests.

Roland Flexner conceives his work as an event, a performance, a gesturality within a "process that seems to have freed itself from the clear distinctions between abstraction and figuration"[1]. What interests him is the physical gesture that allows him to experiment, to create in a playful way, constantly relying on new media.

Alongside Damien Hirst, Gabriel Orozco, Claude Lévêque, Chloé Piene and Roman Opalka, Roland Flexner is one of the contemporary artists who has been able to reinvest the baroque theme of the vanity with the most power and inventiveness.

[1] Anne Tronche, « La double visibilité »  in Roland Flexner, 1 :1, Michel Bavery Editeur, 2002