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Patrick Raynaud
From October 31st 1987 to November 22nd 1987
Transports / Journal de voyage Paris-Montréal

“In a space originally intended for photography and bearing a name that reminds us of this fact, it seemed interesting to use this medium in slightly modified artistic conditions: the celluloid of the illuminated, promotional crates is integrated into a structure (the crate) which is a reference not only to an essential element of artistic life (transportation), but more specifically to sculpture (the three dimensions) and to minimalist sculpture in particular (the crates of Donald Judd).

These three-dimensional structures, in the context of the site, appear to have an autonomous existence (they clearly display the transitory nature of their installation, indeed their next destinations). The status of the images presented, on the other hand, is more ambiguous: some imported images were taken elsewhere, whereas others appear inextricably linked to this present exhibition (photographs taken in Montreal, in the gallery, of this very installation) and inadaptable to any other situation, while at the same time the fact that they are already in crates suggests a new displacement and new adaptations.

The universe of the artist that the imagery evokes is far from that universe summoned up in the seventies under the name, among others, of everyday mythologies. It is not in fact a question of showing in detail the real-life emotional experience of an artist, but rather to emphasize the institutional aspect of his work which cannot develop without the help of partners (critics, agents) or privileged relationships. These are what led him to leave his studio in search of physical or mediatised contacts throughout the world.

The support mechanism of the canvas once allowed the painting to travel (which the fresco obviously could not do), and allowed artists to develop the notion of studio, in both the geographic and aesthetic sense. Similarly, the spread of in situ practices, international exhibitions and trading on the art market have combined to transform the artist into a perpetual traveller, like the great painter-decorators of past centuries, creating works here and there whose status is not always well defined: are the works inextricably linked to their supporting milieu or are they liable to be displaced? Even the clear acceptance of a deontology, whatever it may be, will not always resolve the issue; one may witness paradoxical behaviour of in situ artists attempting retrospective or more autonomous artists playing in an almost a contrario fashion with the exhibition site.

The concept of in situ/moveable is used to express these contradictions and to work within them. The pieces produced are therefore both subject to the demand of place (the position of the lights in Aachen, the design of the vaults of the ceiling in Middleburg, etc…) and so independent that they display the way they are to be dismantled for possible presentation elsewhere. The in situ composition uses the packing crate as an integral part of the piece or may even be said to consist entirely of this, as was the case for the work presented at the Anvers museum: fourteen packing crates piled up in a sort of ziggurat, and which can be stacked inside each other to continue the voyage.

In in situ artists have in some ways become the great decorators of our time. I place myself in this contradictory situation of the decorator, and present a kind of friendly trial. Although this way of working is the most satisfying for me, I want to point out its paradoxes.
- Patrick Raynaud (Translated by Jeffrey Moore)
- Press release (Optica)

Patrick Raynaud is a French artist who since 1976 has exhibited his works extensively in France and abroad, participating in particular in the Aperto section of the 1986 Venice Biennale. His works are suffused with the themes outlined above. Ingrained with irony, his in situ interventions often employ a minimal imagery, similar to children’s drawings. They are thus squarely in the mould of fiction, often reinforced by structures from literature, be it the travel diary or novel. The passage of time appears as one of Raynaud’s major preoccupations, from such varied images of degradation and death as consumption by fire, religious statues or an oblique geometry that evokes disequilibrium or destruction, to a recent focus on the paradoxical nature of the in situ work.

Asselin, Olivier, « Patrick Raynaud », Vanguard, Février-Mars 1988, p. 32
Beaudet, Pascale, « Transports », Spirale, Février 1988, p. 7.