Bertrand Lavier / Interview

Lavier
Article
July 19, 2021

Bertrand Lavier / Interview

“Our entire relationship with reality is linked to this relationship we have with language, which both clarifies things and at the same time, dissects them and breaks them down.” Bertrand Lavier

Reading time
3 mn
By Bertrand Lavier,
Artist

Can you tell us more about the unfolded hot-air balloon in the Rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce? How do you plan to use it?

For the moment, it’s a hot-air balloon at rest. It got a little damp in storage and so we opened it up and unfolded it. It gives us a good idea of the volume of the hot-air balloon compared to the volume of the Bourse. The next step will be to compress it, so to speak, and show it off in one of the display cases. The result, I think, as it’s something I’ve never done before, will be a kind of colour compression..

 

Is this a work on colour then?

Yes, it addresses both the issue of colour and the issue of volume. In fact, this object is completely unrecognizable when it is in the display case. Therefore, the viewer has to make more of an effort to figure out what it is than if they saw it in its normal state. The work allows us to play mentally with a multi-coloured palette and a volume that is highly elastic. The work is about colour, but is also a kind of painting and sculpture all at the same time.

 

In other words, it’s about scale, a play on words and language. Tell us more about these display cases.

First of all, I had to choose works that could be viewed from a low angle. The public views them from below and not all works lend themselves to this angle. Without a doubt, it’s all about language, objects in conversation. For example, we have a display case where there are two reds. Both reds are called “geranium red” and are samples from Docus and Ripolin, two paint brands. Here, the viewer is confronted with a sentiment of uncertainty. Docus and Ripolin may be quite sure that their red is the true “geranium red”, but when the viewer is confronted with the artwork, they are in total doubt, unable to decide which one is “geranium red”. Our entire relationship with reality is linked to this relationship we have with language, which both clarifies things and at the same time, dissects them and breaks them down.

“Our entire relationship with reality is linked to this relationship we have with language, which both clarifies things and at the same time, dissects them and breaks them down.”

Amongst the twenty-four pieces, which one do you like best? And because this is a retrospective shown in display cases, which one do you consider to be your masterpiece?

Marcel Duchamp made the “box in a suitcase”, this is a kind of box in a display case. It has a retrospective character because it includes a lot of different works but there are projects that can’t be shown here as they aren’t compatible with the display-case format.

If there are any masterpieces, it’s not really for me to say. I think an artist shouldn’t be in a position where they prioritize works in a very authoritarian fashion. The piece called Beaunotte/Listo, consisting of a stone placed on a refrigerator, is exactly the same as it was twenty-five years ago but we no longer look at it in the same way. Perhaps it is more aggressive today than it was twenty-five years ago. Time can submerge or give a certain flavour to artworks, but this is something that escapes us, as obviously it’s beyond our control. In other words, having a definitive judgement on work I have made is difficult for me.

 

Which piece do you enjoy most?

The one I enjoy most is the latest piece. I like that I can walk on it. Putting a hot-air balloon in a display case is something I’ve never done before and I look forward to seeing the result in a few hours.

“The one I enjoy most is the latest piece. I like that I can walk on it. Putting a hot-air balloon in a display case is something I’ve never done before and I look forward to seeing the result in a few hours.”