In the Project Room at Galerie Vallois Morgane Fourey is presenting what initially seems to be an exhibition without any works. Geometrical sections of blue foam propped against a wall, an open wooden transport crate and cartons full of styrofoam chips – all clues to works that have come and gone – hint at the setting-up of an exhibition even as they merge with their art-centre environment. The exhibition: an in-between moment in the life of works – a passing-through, a transition.
In this vision marked by a supreme economy, the works gradually betray their presence. After scrupulous examination their illusionistic character surfaces: the foam has become wood and the styrofoam marble. The ambiguity of the materials is increased by that of the actual use of the objects represented, creating confusion out of the contradictions between hard and soft, fragile and robust, precious and trivial.
Drawing its vocabulary from pretence and trompe-l’oeil, Fourey’s practice combines classical painting’s imitative tradition with the appropriation of craft-related techniques, notably those of interior decoration. Historically grounded in the representation of three-dimensional volumes and shapes on a flat surface, trompe-l’oeil creates the illusion of real objects with a range of perspective effects and textural interplay. But while Fourey resorts to this kind of artifice, her work is better described as volumetric painting that unites sculpture with the representational space laid down by painting.
Here the painter’s touch comes across as an invisible imprint. The stroke is precise and the work meticulous, but the artist recreates the material of each object while at the same time denying it its usual function. Playing on the physicality of vision and perception, the work is an attempt to imitate, with a different material, the actual matter of what is reproduced or presented. Through the artifice of a new painterly matter an effect of verisimilitude is obtained for the object represented, at the same time as the painted surface contradicts the matter the object is made of.
Capturing objects through both the act of painting and their spatial mise en scene, Morgane Fourey freeze-frames a given moment – of montage, of construction – and its triggering of invisible activity. In this way she introduces a certain theatricality by turning the exhibition space into an actual stage deserted by its actors. Despite their absence from the scene, it is clearly the work of those who act and make in advance – tradesmen, restorers, technicians – that is the focus of Fourey’s gaze. In this she pays tribute to the discreet, unseen work going on in the shadows, that of the people who ensure that the exhibition takes place.