Pierre Descamps at The Goma

Artist: Pierre Descamps

Exhibition title: Site-Specifics

Venue: The Goma, Madrid, Spain

Date: April 19 – June 7, 2018

Photography: Roberto Ruíz / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps’ body of photographic and sculptural work is largely centred on a portrait of urban architecture. His well-defined, geometric focus emphasises the formalism of urban constructions and the city barriers used by skateboarders. Unlike the iconography one usually finds in skateboarding magazines, Descamps’ images are aseptic and devoid of human expression. A second reading reveals however that his photos and also his three-dimensional works enact a kind of periphrasis with the materials, confronting two contrasting cultures: popular culture and another more elitist one associated with the sophistication of minimalist art.

In his third solo show in Madrid, the French artist engages with the modern poster, a medium indebted to the appearance of photography and which brought about a true revolution in popular diffusion. When used in more select contexts, like institutions and avant-garde galleries, the informational efficacy of the poster is often ignored and instead focuses solely on its use as an instrument to verify an event. Yet, in the popular imagination posters belong to the urban environment and are generally distributed massively with criteria of minimum cost. These creations by Pierre Descamps are, on the other hand, high-quality prints that retrieve no-longer existing ephemeral pieces by the artist made in parks, derelict buildings and subways stations in Berlin which were never presented in art exhibitions. Here however, any notional nostalgia is counteracted by the sobriety of the images and typography used.

The title of the exhibition, Site-Specifics, could not be more trenchant given its exploration of the effects of a specific displacement; how the popular is transformed into elitist and how a less perishable recording can accrue more relevance than the original work when it is transferred from the public space to an art gallery. Benches, a nominally urban fixture, are on display in the gallery’s two rooms as an example of the transmutation of public constructions. Another sculpture, a ramp that connects the two rooms, further underscores the idea of ascent and descent ever-present in the artist’s practice.

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Sculpture for Gleisdreieck, 2018, Lambda print, aluminium frame, 71 x 101 cm

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Sculpture for Wassertorplatz, 2018, Lambda print, aluminium frame, 101 x 71 cm

Pierre Descamps, Furniture for show 3, 2018, MDF, 55 x 80 x 80 cm

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Furniture for show 2, 2018, MDF, 45 x 115 x 55 cm

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

Pierre Descamps, Sculpture for ICC, 2018, Lambda print, aluminium frame, 101 x 71 cm

Pierre Descamps, Site-Specifics, 2018, exhibition view, The Goma, Madrid

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