Reda Boussella at Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain

Artist: Reda Boussella

Exhibition title: Cœur Braisé

Venue: Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain, Brest, France

Date: October 15, 2021 – January 15, 2022

Photography: Aurélien Mole / all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain

Awarded a resident artist post, Reda Boussella (born in 1994) has put much effort onto the walls of the art centre over several months. As an artist recently graduated from Quimper School of Art, he decided to move to Brest for a while, following his residence at Passerelle. He recently took part in an exhibition at the Station in Nice and in October will be exhibiting at the Salon de Montrouge, known for laying the groundwork for the emerging French scene. Boussella is one of those prolific artists, generous with what they create, sharing it willingly; the exhibition, presented on the first floor of the art centre, fully recognises his inordinate production, compulsive and total exuberance in his work and creation of forms.

Steeped in popular culture from the Pokemon gaming world to the rapper 50 Cent, Reda Boussella absorbs the references in his everyday life and reconstructs his own, often bizarre, world. When you examine his work, the technique of collage – different materials, technical or formal – is immediately apparent. Collage, invented by the artists Picasso and Braque in the decade of 1910, was used to ‘open up’ the viewer to reflections other than those simply about the painting. In 1923, Picasso declared on this subject: “We have tried to get rid of trompe-l’œil to reach ‘trompe-l’esprit (spirit)’”. In this sense, Boussella’s compositions can trace their origins to this concept, revolutionary in its time: assembling various disparate elements opens the viewer up to other worlds. The title of the exhibition, Cœur Braisé, follows this same rationale: a mix of ‘cœur brisé’ (broken heart) and ‘poulet braisé’ (braised chicken), this association evokes both the disappointments of adolescent love and synthetic-tasting crisps.

For this exhibition, Reda Boussella turns his attention, without making any judgments, to the stereotypes of the beach in summer. Here we find sun-tanned bodies, garish colours, greasy food, France on its holidays by the sea. The lyrics of Ah yah, rosé, jet-ski, playa by the rapper Jul mingle with those of Charles Trenet’s Nationale 7.

Of all the roads of France and Europe
The one I like best is the one that leads
Driving or hitch-hiking
Towards the beaches of the South
Nationale 7

In an apparently light-hearted tone, Reda Boussella tackles the question of how we see the Other. Don’t we look at half-naked bodies at the beach or in the swimming-pool with no feelings of embarrassment or desire? Using strong iconography, the artist also questions the notion of virility and machismo. The ‘open-necked shirt and shiny gold chain’ of the 1980s, the figure of the male, these have evolved and the old norms are gradually disappearing. Cœur braisé appears as a portrait of a people’s summer of 2021 which is gradually fading, both a picture of a party that is coming to an end and the last gasp of an obsolete world.