Claude Lévêque
 
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Claude Lèvêque: d'evian

With his installations the French artist Claude Lévêque creates spaces whose evocative power and sensorial stimulation seduce us into active and immediate participation. In his spaces, the "visitor" - a term Lévêque prefers to that of the mere contemplative "viewer" - meets a provocative beauty. The artists creates intimate landscapes out of light, space and objects. Their atmosphere implies pain and anxiety, just as well as the individual's conditioning by the collective. Therefore, his works always resonate with a call for departure. The beauty of his installations is expressed in an indifference to reigning aesthetic codes, and sometimes lay halfway between a fantastical world and that of kitsch. Not that kitsch is something that worries Lévêque; the artist sees it as the popular expression of the idea of otherness.

In his installation "d'evian" (2002), this artistic device is treated as the very subject of the work. There is a writing on the wall... The letters d'evian gloom in red neon tubes in the corner of the first exhibition space: Evian, the crystalline clear water, a symbol of pureness and floating beauty. Now, the French d'evian resonates with the word déviant: the deviating, the impure and distraught – the other. In the next room, the visitor enters an obscurity that destabilises his spatial bearings. He faces a wall made of more than 500 boxes of evian-water wrapped by a shimmering veil of white tulle. The wall creates a space within the space and, by its oblique construction, obliges the visitor to deviate from his usual way: He is redirected, may have to stop, or will be obliged to detour, before finally arriving in the third and last exhibition room. Here we find a landscape reminiscent of a lake with floes. White plastic lilies grow out of the icy shivers and the whole room is illuminated by fluorescent effects of blacklight. At the end, the world of "d'evian" is reigned by an artificial, removed, and frozen beauty.

Lévêque disposes of a whole range of strategies affecting the visitor's senses and behaviour. His use of light is subtly developed as an expressive, artistic medium. Furthermore, the spatial structure of his landscapes clearly routes and disorients the visitor's movements, who cannot merely stay out and watch, but will follow the artist's paths. Light and modelled space are brought together with objects derived from our surrounding reality. By his choice of objects, the boxes of evian-water, Lévêque refers to a world of standardisation where the desire to be different only leads to a conflict between the individual and the norm. "D'evian" confronts us with an artists who, right from the outset, has not ceased to question established structures, and for whom aversion to the norm is not just the engine of his art but its fuel as well.

At the end, beauty in "d'evian" has turned into a dim twilight. By its constant shattering of norms and illumination of alterity, Lévêque's work embodies a project of political dimension. As the artist puts it: "I think that contemporary art can bring about a space of difference where things can be rediscovered, outside the consumerist obligations laid down by the degrading media, the corrupted politicians and the vendors of games, houses, and cars."

Born in 1953 in Nevers, Claude Lévêque lives and works in Montreuil. Since the 1980s, his works have decidedly contributed to widen and refine the expressive modes of light and space. He is today one of the French artists most present on the international scene. Lévêque showed his works, among others, at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the PS1, New York, and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Lévêque is extraordinarily prolific. In 2002, he will present not less than seven new installations. With "d'evian", Arndt & Partner are delighted to open their first show with Claude Lévêque.