Loris Gréaud

Selected Works

Sfumato

2014 – ongoing
polyester resin, manganese dioxide, black aluminum case packer
162 x 130 cm.; 63 3/4 x 51 1/8 in.
Photo: Gréaudstudio

In 2010, CNRS researchers Philippe Walter and Laurence de Viguerie opened an investigation. So far, no one has ever managed to penetrate the chemical mystery involved in the effect used by Leonardo da Vinci to give such a realistic and hazy appearance to the faces he applied himself to paint. Being invaluable pieces, it is indeed impossible to take even the slightest sample from the Master’s canvases. With the support of the European Synchroton in Grenoble, the two scientists eventually found a way to bring to light the technique implemented by Leonardo da Vinci to achieve the effect which he himself named "Sfumato": a painting "without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke". Taking advantage of the latest advancements in X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, they analysed one by one the 6 masterpieces from the Louvre’s collection. By studying the faces in detail, they brought out a series of extremely thin layers of glazing: a subtle combination of oil, resin, manganese oxide and an occasional hint of copper. Some areas revealed almost as many as 30 microlayers, each one being hardly 1, 2 or 3 microns thick, with an overall thickness of half a hair at most... It is through this inframince and this almost imperceptible stack that Leonardo da Vinci created the psychological dimension behind the figures who haunted his paintings. Such characters being in turns enigmatic, tragic, contemplative, smiling or rather on the verge of displaying either expression. The history of the Sfumato formula also shows that Leonardo da Vinci could spend several years painting one piece, each film of resin requiring a number of days up to a few months to dry. This may be where the evanescence displayed by his subjects originated from. Indeed, the latter, despite being frozen in time, look endlessly lascivious and hesitant. After the results of the research were published, Loris Gréaud could not resist. He seized the highly sought-after formula to produce a series of abstract paintings. Whereas resins have changed, allowing quicker catalyses, manganese oxide remains the same, still creating the same intensity. Loris Gréaud’s paintings are thus adorned with mysterious scrolls which vary if one gets closer to the piece and has one’s reflection mirrored in it. For the point is no longer to catch a faltering look and freeze it in time but to briefly reveal the image of a lingering watcher. One recalls Giorgio Vasari marvelling at Leonardo da Vincy’s ability to achieve the very darkest tones. What better experiment for an artist who has chosen black as his flag?

Trajectories

2017
waste car oil on Arche mat paper, black oak frame
each panel: 125.8 x 85.6 cm.; 49 5/8 x 33 7/8 in. (framed)
Photo: Charles Duprat

The Monte Verita (litteraly "Hill of Truth") is a hill located in Ascona (Switzerland) where some young intellectuals (anarchists, socialists, vegetarians, artists, writers, dancers...) gathered as Europe was going into war, in an attempt to create new ways of living. It has been said that "they opened themselves to nature in a revolutionnary nudity to renew society from the inside". While industrialisation had already disrupted the world, the communities settled on Monte Verita were looking for an alternative lifestyle that would head towards a more peaceful future. The place hosted all kinds of discussions, concerts, performances, and quickly became a worldwide attraction as well as one of the major places for utopia and experimentations. Interested in this story, Harald Szeemann sought to demonstrate that the region was subject to a specific tellurism and magnetism. Great minds such as Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, Hugo Ball, Isadora Duncan or Paul Klee took part in this "global village".

Yet, in 1920, the debts accumulated and forced the founders to leave the hill. What seemed to be a possible heterotopia was caught up with the reality of a society that extended itself in space and was more and more globalized. Almost 100 years later, in 2016, Loris Gréaud, equipped with a customized 4x4 Jeep symbol of the all-powerfulness of this highly industrialized society, ventures on the traces of Monte Verita. In his studio, in the north- westem suburbs of Paris, he proceeds to completely empty his vehicle and fill it up with an unrefined oil. He then embarks on a journey of 1598 kilometers (993 miles) to Monte Verita.

The oil that enabled the trip to happen – charged in a way with the energy of the places it has been through – is tinted and used to create paper works. The artist produced a series of paintings, close to monochrome, titled "forme-trajets"(shape-journey). He draws an ellipse that oscillates between dystopia and irreverence. They are for him the stigmata of a passed world, the rest of a spatio temporal travel in which trajectories are infinitely more important than the eventual destination, and are exposed in flat tint, of which the beauty is silent and uncanny.

Once again, some perverse manipulations were refreshing the world

2017
300 copper leaves
variable dimensions
Edition of 5, plus 2 AP
Photo: Gréaudstudio

The sculpture Once again some perverse manipulations were refreshing the world (2017) is formed by the piling of copper leaves. Inviting nature 'indoor', this piece draws our attention on this neglected element that constitute the dead leaves accumulating in the roadsides in autumn, and which poetry lies in its delicateness and fragility. The copper is a lasting material that alters over time, turning green (verdigris). The oxidation will thus accentuate the organic aspect of the still-life, which, unlike what they seem at first sight, will keep evolving.

Once again, some perverse manipulations were refreshing the world

2017
300 copper leaves
variable dimensions
Edition of 5, plus 2 AP
Photo: Gréaudstudio

The sculpture Once again some perverse manipulations were refreshing the world (2017) is formed by the piling of copper leaves. Inviting nature 'indoor', this piece draws our attention on this neglected element that constitute the dead leaves accumulating in the roadsides in autumn, and which poetry lies in its delicateness and fragility. The copper is a lasting material that alters over time, turning green (verdigris). The oxidation will thus accentuate the organic aspect of the still-life, which, unlike what they seem at first sight, will keep evolving.

Spores

2018
5 rock sculptures, one of which is translucent, suspended by means of steel cables, held in place by stainless steel fixings. Resin rocks, matte Architecte OR NOIR paint, inclusion resin and matte fiberglass mat, sound and light system inside the translucent rock: specially made control box with 1 USB port, 2 rotary potentiometers (volume adjustment and light bulb flashing sensitivity), 3 loud-speakers (60 W, 84,6 dB), 240 V, 2,8 W LED bulb with filament (21 W perceived), MP3 reader
280 x 98.5 x 65.2 cm.; 110 1/4 x 38 3/4 x 25 5/8 in.
Photo: def image

This is a series of 7 sculptures in the form of suspensions, which diffuse the sound and frequencies emitted by ‘dead’ stars.

Astrophysicists have been able to see that stars are agitated by luminous pulsations of sorts: their intensity varies in a more or less regular fashion. These pulsations are in fact the manifestation of sound frequencies emitted by stars. As a result many astrophysicists have studied these emissions, as they are a precious source of information in the understanding of the universe and its cycles. The discipline is called asteroseismology.

Spores focuses only on frequencies emitted by dying stars. Paradoxically, because they are so far away, the stars that seem luminous to us are those which have been dead for a long time. This is, as it were, an archetype of the ghost. One could almost talk of ‘zombie stars’.

For this series of sculptures, Loris Gréaud was inspired by recent findings of the Rosetta mission, which focused on determining the nature and composition of the nucleus of the 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet. Each suspended sculpture was conceived as a sort of rocky mass in levitation.
The sculptures are stirred into movement by the luminous spasms produced, via a dedicated system, by the transposition of the diffused sound frequencies. The work thus recreates, as if in reverse, the luminous pulsations observed by scientists, and gives us, in an artificial way, the echo of these dying stars, inviting us to immerse ourselves in a dimension which is beyond us but which, nevertheless, surrounds us.

MACHINE

2018
structure composed of oxidised metallic tubes, various sections: 3 cm, 4 cm, 6 cm and 15 cm; 68 neons (14 mm in diameter), powered by 5 transformers (230 V, 2.4 A / 50hz) through 6 mm transparent rubber-coated cables; transparent tubes; 15 polyester resin branches dyed white; neon flickering command box; black oak box; LOOK Unique haze machine, 2.1
265 x 300 x 340 cm.; 104 3/8 x 118 1/8 x 133 7/8 in.
edition of 1, plus 1 AP
Photo: def image

MACHINE is a unique work, designed to be a truly autonomous entity, one which has apparently developed its own language, made of sequenced vibrations, flickerings, swirls of smoke and tinklings. While this language seems to follow common linguistic codes — it could be Morse code or an encrypted system — it proves difficult to grasp its meaning.

Special attention was paid to the materials that the work is composed of. It was made more or less as a patchwork: the disparate nature of each element is deliberately emphasised and, to this end, its mode of assemblage is purposely comprehensible at first glimpse. The perfectly identifiable form appears to be a tree or an arborescence.

In the same way as the limbs of Frankenstein’s monster are crudely stitched, the resin branches ‘bump into’ the spreading metal structure. The sculpture comes to life and seems to be in sole control of the sequences, movements and accelerations that move it. The sculpture makes every effort to create a potential communication… and ends up delivering a message without an address, whose code is given as an enigma to decipher.

 
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Max Hetzler Berlin | Paris | London
© Adagp, Paris, 2020