Daniel Buren: Exploring Space and Light in the Georges-Pompidou Gallery in Anglet

Iwo weeks ago, the City of Anglet officially opened the Georges-Pompidou gallery in the company of Daniel Buren. The opportunity to meet this essential figure of contemporary art. Inseparable from his Palais-Royal Columns, the 85-year-old never ceases to renew our relationship with space in a long-term career punctuated by striped bands (always in the same format), light, volumes, colors, reflections, geometric shapes and thousands of exhibits across the globe. Some have become legendary, like the mirrors installed in the nave of the Capc in 1991.

When the invitation went out, the building you were to invest in was far from complete. Are you used to working in these conditions?

It very often happens to me (he laughs), to be the one who wipes the plasters as they say. It’s not always very easy, even if you can change things along the way. There are always surprises.

On the other hand, what is rarer is to combine two types of work?

Combining the two is something I don’t do very often. It may have happened once and again I’m not sure. So there’s what I call in situ, which is specific to the place and can’t go anywhere else, and the things I call situated, which are more traditional in the arrangement of the works. We can move them around or they can play with other spaces, but of course there are rules. It’s not like a canvas that you can hang anywhere you want.

Piece made in situ with a series of transparent self-adhesive filters arranged in alphabetical order of colors.

Piece made in situ with a series of transparent self-adhesive filters arranged in alphabetical order of colors.

Alexandra Vaquero

For the project in Anglet, how did you proceed?

I didn’t know Anglet, but I had the building plans. I realized that some of my pieces, which were made exactly ten years ago, were absolutely insanely big: 217.5 cm long and wide. To the nearest millimetre, they could integrate the space perfectly and cut it in two. There is an osmosis between the architecture and these rooms. When it works well like that, it’s a kind of uninterrupted dialogue.

One could therefore almost say that they are also in situ?

Effectively. It’s not so surprising given that I’ve been developing this in situ story since… 1967. In the end, it raised my gaze to things that a priori aren’t.

The double-sided bay window, work in situ (coloured self-adhesive filters).

The double-sided bay window, work in situ (coloured self-adhesive filters).

Alexandra Vaquero

What is the story of these pieces, screen prints on woven optical fibres?

In the early 2000s, Brochier Technologies asked me to collaborate with them on their prototype luminous fabrics. They had succeeded in adapting the looms to weaving fiber optics. Subsequently, they succeeded in combining this technique with screen printing. This has enabled many things that were previously impossible. These pieces take a long time to make, sometimes a year. The precision must be absolutely perfect. My very first pieces with screen printing date from 2013. I made the drawings and sent them. Those shown in Anglet had never been exhibited before. Besides, I had never seen them. They slept in their box. I discovered them here.

“The majority of artists do not sell anything and live below the poverty line”

The lighting of these serigraphs is very subtle…

We do not see him. You have to be very careful. But as soon as the day declines and without being touched, they light up and illuminate the whole room. One of its characteristics is what the architect (Philippe Rabier; Editor’s note) did with natural lighting. That is really very very rare. Ordinarily, whether it’s in galleries, museums, and even very large institutions, I’d say it ranges from awful to mediocre. You can barely play with it. These are places where you find people who know how to work with iron, wood, steel, etc. But you have a profession that never exists: it’s the lighting designer. So I find that extraordinary, because a museum is made for seeing, and there’s no one to take care of that. Here, there is certainly electric lighting, but above all there is daytime lighting, which is great.

The games with light, natural this time, are found in the site-specific works for which you use transparent and colored filters. For what ?

You have a piece of glass. You cover it with red, yellow or blue. The sun hits, and the projection of this color has an intensity, which the color itself does not have. On a lawn, you will have the impression that something very neat has been placed on it. The quality of the color that surrounds us thanks to the light of the sun is absolutely extraordinary and amazing because it moves and evolves.

Situated works (silkscreens on woven optical fibers).

Situated works (silkscreens on woven optical fibers).

Alexandra Vaquero

“E Yellow, F Yellow, E Red, F Red, E Green, F Green, E Violet, F Violet”, located works, (2013, detail).  Screen printing on woven optical fibers

“E Yellow, F Yellow, E Red, F Red, E Green, F Green, E Violet, F Violet”, located works, (2013, detail). Screen printing on woven optical fibers

Alexandra Vaquero

How do you view the current artistic context?

It is quite unusual and nauseating. Normally, we are in a logic where one thousandth of the works produced becomes inaccessible and very expensive over time. That these have a significant commercial success as we hear today, on the other hand, is very very rare. There are some historical counterexamples. During the Renaissance with a few champions and not the least or with the art of fire fighting which was worth a fortune in the 19th centurye century. But for ten years, we are witnessing something that never happened. Without going into the worst extravagances, you have young, even very young artists, whose productions sell for almost a million euros per unit when it’s not more. It’s still phenomenal. Even if it affects very, very few artists, I think it’s very harmful. And it’s harmful for artists in general, because the reality is that the majority of them don’t sell anything and live below the poverty line. And the reputation it gives to works of art is stupid.

“Daniel Buren – Natural light versus electric light, works in situ versus works located”, until October 14, Galerie Georges-Pompidou, 2 rue Albert-le-Barillier, Anglet (64). Free admission.

2023-05-27 15:52:46

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