Giving onto the Paul Kos solo show in Galerie Vallois, the Project Room is occupied by Julien Berthier (born 1975).
Although neither Kos nor Berthier is averse to the notions of coincidence or accident, it must be said that this juxtaposition is not at all fortuitous. In 1988, when a student at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, Julien Berthier took courses with Paul Kos at the San Francisco Art Institute. The teaching was profitable, and Berthier became another in several generations of up and coming artists to acknowledge his influence. Represented by the gallery since 2001, it was Julien who drew the attention of the Vallois to Paul Kos’ work, and who initiated this new collaboration.
It is therefore not surprising if similarities are found between these two artists, at least in terms of their analyses and working methods.
Sensitivity to the artistic and social context, combined with alertness to symbolic, social and economic mechanisms at work there, lead both Berthier and Kos to reveal the contradictions and absurdities of our reality with a touch at once deft and humorous.
Remarkably enough, with Berthier the object is envisioned as a catalyst, or even as a symbol of that absurdity, in that he moves between two contradictory directions: the desire for the improvement offered by the object, and the consciousness of its uselessness. In this respect Berthier’s work has something of Jacques Carelman, the French decorator and illustrator known for his parody of the Manufrance catalogue published under the title Catalogue d’objets introuvables in 1969. Like Berthier’s work, this encyclopaedia of practical objects maintains a sense of doubt as to the possible effectiveness of the objects.
The same can be said for the images and text here, torn between saturation and lack, a mix of too much information and too little light. That, anyway, is what A LOST explores. By removing from an advertising poster the term that itself signifies lack, Berthier reveals a deep loss of meaning and reduces the advertising symbol to its pure decorative function.