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Camouflage



 
 

As we have seen, camouflage is both a natural, organic principle (the chameleon) and a cultural practice: mimesis, the basic problem of all modes of representation. Whatever the field of human activity in which it is deployed (war, hunting, art, etc.), camouflage always poses the problem of the relationship between the plane and space: how to inscribe the different planes that make up the object to be camouflaged in space in such a way that they can no longer be distinguished? The problem of camouflage - which is also quite similar to that of make-up, in its concern to play with reliefs, hollows and surfaces - is to succeed in blending one or more planes into space, and which corresponds, in painting, to the occupation of the white space of the canvas, to its make-up with the aim of rendering this plane to space by deceiving our perception. Cancellation of the support, camouflage of the surface of the flat canvas: painting as the art of the false, of the negation of the primitive surface through make-up and deception. The denunciation of painting as the magic of surfaces (as still found in "free figuration", with its neutral or blank backgrounds) and not of depth could provide the argument for a return to Plato or a revival of idealist critical discourse. But everything is compromised by the obvious incapacity of idealism to produce denunciations (de-nunciations) that are not statements of denunciation. We also remain in the denunciatory statement with intelligent strategies like that of Support Surface, which aimed to denounce bourgeois Western painting (its workmanship, or rather its "mode of production", its ideological role, etc.); the same Platonic idealism that produced the "denunciations" of the ); the same Platonic idealism, because what Support/Surface does is still perfectly bourgeois insofar as what is achieved is a strategy of absence, a strategy of deconstruction and decomposition (stretcher, canvas ... ), which can only leave room for discourse and statement ... A statement which, despite everything, remains empty of meaning, like the last great bourgeois and imperialist war, the Vietnam War.


The Vietnamese earth, saturated with bombs, absorbs everything, absorbs an excess of meaning and makes nonsense, absorbs an excess of bombs and napalm which, after so much destruction, no longer have any effect, just like the frame and canvas of our artists after so many clean slates and so many denunciations.


On the other hand, the evolution of Valentiner's work seems to us to be crucial. In a first phase, Valentiner uses camouflage material (canvases and nets) to make packages, conjuring up the spectre of the death of culture by designating new spaces of culture (following the example of Christo, see above). Valentiner then moves on to work on the painting, and from a mode of packaging, the camouflage material becomes the very background of the painting.


(Note that he always keeps the blank white canvas of the stretcher under his camouflage canvas).

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