Claudia Comte & Guillaume Pilet
14 Jun – 7 Jul 2012

View Images

Collaborations are enjoying an awakening like never seen before, enticing and irritating, they are at its best unexpected, refreshing and most importantly challenge the artist's own working methods and conceptual constraints. In the last 5 years, collaborations have developed from the usual pattern of one artist inviting another fellow one, but has created the awareness, that this path of interaction can open up entire new artistic paths, careers and thus identities to an already existing known one.
Claudia Comte & Guillaume Pilet take on the role of an old couple. They know who does what, who is good at what, and they give each other room to talk, act creatively and react freely but they don't have to speak too much with each other to find a solution or come to a consent. Having had a similar educational input and artistic schooling, they both graduated from ECAL in Lausanne in 2007, they create an output of quite different styles. But by collaborating they were not solely challenging each others' aesthetic predispositions and handwriting, but in turn enriched themselves with what they pursue on a most basic level; they are continuously gathering and collecting a more eclectic accumulation of objects and images, visual styles and artistic genres. To reduce their visual coquetry to a few simple descriptive words, Comte's main interest lays in geometric painting and organic abstract sculpture-making whereas Pilet's main interest lays more in organic abstraction and cartoony figuration, the results of their interaction are a suite of works based on the principles of the cadavre exquis 'game' started by the Surrealists in 1925, initially a writing game, of which one of the first sentences was: „the exquisite corpse will drink the new wine“, thus coining the term in question.

The works presented at SALTS are part of a travelling exhibition, the preceding part of the show was entitled From Acapulco to Zanzibar and was shown at la rada in Locarno, where for the first time Comte and Pilet took their drawings and wall-paintings to a more complex state by transforming their designs and
sketches into three-dimensional objects, a series of cadavre exquis sculptures. According to Pilet, style has no longer formal sense, the medias are mixed, they are tapping into the collective unconscious, chance, fragments, collages and chaos are being ordered into something that is beyond anyone's control. We witness a modern day, analog example of the copy and paste generation, instead of creating fake hybrid images in photoshop, the duo join random images together in a puzzle style manner. The inspiration ranges from the early 20th century to today, from Brancusi's use of the display and material mix to his heralding of the importance of the plinth itself, through Pop Art's embracement of the banal, to Disney's animations and 'simple' characterisations to carpentry perfection and ceramic glazing techniques. From op art abstraction and cognitive and perceptual visual trickery, they engage the viewer with unusual insight into not only the fashions in art and design, but they also cast a verdict on what quality stands for and where tastes and fads water down definitions. Comte & Pilet embrace the word 'manual' in manual labor which turns them to moulding, casting, cutting, burning, chopping and pouring figures into forms or vice versa, from masses of materials and rainbows of textures. The result is a very physically striking and omnipresent sculpture, totem-like pillars, which exclaim random thoughts and bigger-than-life dreams, a collaborative vision, which portrays with a analysis stance, the absurdities and clichés of forms and gestures at large, of humour versus stoicisms, of the monumental versus the minimal.

The first part of the exhibition entitled from Acapulco to Zanzibar was held at la rada in locarno and was supported by Pro Helvetia. This second leg of the exhibition was made in cooperation with la rada, Locarno.

Photography: courtesy Gunnar Meier