Christophe Boursault
2016, Selima Niggl

Selima Niggl, 2016

Portrait of the collector Tim Lagardere trying to reach his artist

Translated from german by Christine Schachtschneider

Portrait of the collector Tim Lagardere trying to reach his artist is the strange, almost clumsy title of a canvas work by painter and performer Christophe Boursault. One usually encounters the person portrayed here only in the artist's video works. There he appears as an exaggerated and slightly crazy man of action addressing the art public in amateur selfie-sequences. His stereotype phrases and behavioral patterns are mainly centered on a certain artist called Christophe Boursault. “What ? Really ? You haven't heard of him ?! His paintings are simply terrific, extraordinary, exceptional. The best we have seen in a long time ! Honestly, cross my heart : You should really grab a few of his works before prices explode !”

The audience is confronted with biting sarcasm and pungent dilettantism. At the same time one cannot help admiring the courage of the artist, who in his role as Tim Lagardere usually leaves the audience with a feeling of embarrassed awkwardness. The imperfection and brisk informality of his videos are also typical features of his paintings. Primitive grotesque faces flung down with hasty brushstrokes and crudely applied color patches. Spray lines and graphic characters here and there are reminiscent of hastily scribbled graffiti tags in run-down subway stations. This is not peinture – or is it ? >

Boursault maintains that the impact of academicism on the arts is more prominent in France than anywhere else ; despite the fact that it was here that Dubuffet coined the term Art Brut and despite Antonin Artaud and his concept of a Theatre of Cruelty. A certain kind of social acceptability and readiness to abide by the rules still seem to be the prerequisites for commercial success in the field of art. The videos strongly oppose such tendencies by mercilessly exposing these very rules to ridicule. The paintings, by contrast, speak for themselves, they offer resistance in their very own, implicit way. They epitomize the liberty of ignoring everything we have ever learned in order to get closer to the original, unspoiled mode of expression. The sheer speed of the painting process helps to avoid proven strategies and to reactivate a certain kind of naivety and crudeness that makes child's drawings so fascinating. >

Boursault sees his works FAR FROM FrAME, trying to break up customary structures in more than one way. But he stays within a certain anticlassical tendency which had already emancipated itself from the classical traditions. It had been established as a form of expression that no longer inextricably linked beauty to the sublime, the divine, the one and all. The objective character of categories like beautiful and ugly was challenged. Artists discovered indigenous cultures and their forms of expression. The artistic efforts of amateurs, of children and people with mental or physical handicaps became a source of inspiration. New work techniques were applied to either eliminate consciousness as a sophisticated corrective or to increase it in order to consciously counteract good taste. In this context Primitivism, Art Brut, Camp and Bad Painting are common slogans in recent art history. >

Boursault knows that his claim of ignoring all boundaries is both naive and even somewhat presumptuous. So he undermines this statement with his characteristic irony. Still, FAR FROM FrAME is not the outcry of an underestimated genius wallowing in self-pity. It is the lively comment of an artist who plausibly presents his “freedom to failure” as a sumptuous playground ; as a space for a certain kind of sincerity that neither excludes the ridiculous nor laughter, neither nonsense nor absurdity. >

Thanks to the present catalog we can now for the first time perceive Boursaults pictorial work in a larger context. Here it is obvious that Boursault often uses graphic components as more refined elements in contrast to the rawness of the densely painted areas and broad brushstrokes. This fight on canvas seems to turn out particularly well when there is no clear winner. >