Ben, the French avant-garde artist represented by the gallery since 1970, comes back Impasse Beaubourg, with a provocative installation of photographs, texts and paintings exploring the theme of suicide.
The first part of the exhibition is devoted to an inventory of famous artists who committed suicide: Nicolas de Staël, Diane Arbus, Jackson Pollock… Each artist is evoked through a photograph and a short explanatory notice. As Ben explains, he himself attempted to put an end to his days “in January 1961, I told the media my intention to be crushed into the shape of a wing car by a power press of the Renault factory, or to get flattened out by a road roller over a canvas varnished by my wife after my death.” A long text about suicide is also written directly onto the wall.
The second part of the exhibition consists in a group of his famous “aphorism” canvases: a hand-written sentence on a solid background. As the artist emphatically declares: “Death is the most important thing of life. It is everywhere. (…) Today the idea that some form of art can be considered as its own creation, I, Ben, personally take possession of the idea of death into art because only death is absolute.”
Born in 1935 in Naples, Ben Vautier moved to Nice in 1949, where he still lives and works. He became famous in 1959 with his “junk shop, meeting and exhibition space”. One of the founders of Fluxus, he claims that everything is possible in art and that everything is art. His work is present in many international collections including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig in Vienna or the Museum voor Hedendaagse Kunst in Antwerpen.