Hicham Berrada

until September 4, 2023
Hicham Berrada, Présage, 2018
Close Hicham Berrada, Présage, 2018

In Gallery 3. 

Présage immerses viewers in a changing visual universe. Forms, halos, outgrowths, spores, and filaments appear, developing constantly, as if the artist were filming the sped-up growth of plants in real time. They are in fact metals submerged in an aquarium that are in the process of degrading and transforming at the hands of corrosive, toxic substances in the tank. This unstable, altered state gives birth to colours and forms that resemble new forms of life, as if they were a proliferating coral reef that is as poisonous as it is superb.

The video, projected across the entire gallery space and enveloping the viewer, erases any sense of scale or materials. This leaves the viewer captive, fascinated by a spectacle that the artist envisages as poetic and sublime. The artist does not consider himself an inventor or a scientist, rather, as he himself says, a “director of energies”, as the material’s intrinsic properties are what generate the reactions in this process. 

Like many of Hicham Berrada’s works, Présage should be construed as the desire to undo the human element at the site of the artwork. The artist works with natural forces, leaving viewers immersed in the immensity of a scene which they cannot understand in its entirety from their perspective, and confronting them with a time scale that is not their own. This is a new kind of landscape painting that is no longer an illusionist’s framing of nature, instead an activation of the properties of reality at a scale well beyond the human.

Hicham Berrada was born in 1986 in Casablanca, and he now lives in Roubaix, France. Berrada studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the Le Fresnoy National Visual Arts Centre. He has developed a practice that relies on knowledge and intuition, situated between scientific research and poetry. His works, often in the form of videos or sculptures, are the result of performances that frequently involve a chemical and physical manipulation. Like a painter, Hicham Berrada thus uses the tools of experimental research to create novel landscapes. In seeking to reveal the beauty and perfection of the natural elements through these manipulations, he posits the artist as someone who activates a material’s inherent properties.
Hicham Berrada has been a fellow at the Villa Medici, the Cent Quatre, and the Pinault Collection’s artist-inresidence programme in Lens.

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