South likes: Supports/Surfaces at Canada, New York


Mark Devade, Untitled, 1967, ink on canvas

South likes: Supports/Surfaces at Canada, New York
Canada, New York, USA
7 June – 20 July, 2014

Text by Michelangelo Corsaro

Making a sudden landfall in a Lower East Side gallery in New York, the works of Supports/Surfaces showcased at Canada look like a radical marxist disguised as a hot buy-now super-young painter. It is a haunting appearance this one, because these paintings and sculptures might well look as if they were made today. And yet these works, produced between 1967 and 1983, seem to speak a different language. Formed in the south of France towards the end of the 1960s as a confederation of about fifteen artists, Supports/Surfaces was characterised by radically formalised aesthetics. Their works explored the possibilities of a painterly discourse about painting, giving form to a deconstructed language made of unstretched canvases and endlessly repeated patterns. However the practice of Supports/Surfaces was also nurtured by a broad range of radical intellectual influences, from Marx to Freud, Clement Greenberg and Chairman Mao. And in fact, as with the italian group Forma 1, Supports/Surfaces based their practice on the association of abstraction and marxism. More than this, many of them participated to the war in Algeria and returned to France in search for “alternatives to the colonial war machines that seemed to be the norm in western society”. Like for Henri Matisse at the beginning of the century, their paintings were influenced by the colours and the light of the Mediterranean, a sea that they had known as a territory of political conflict, having visited both its northern and southern shores.
If the exhibition of Supports/Surfaces constitutes a haunting presence, it is not just for the formal analogies with much of the abstraction produced today. These analogies are indeed troubling because when today we witness the reprise of such formal solutions, we should question whether they rather exist as artistic amputees, severed from the radical reasons from which their aesthetic originally developed.


Claude Viallat, 1972/108, 1972, ink on fabric


Patrick Saytour, Pilage, 1973, mixed media on canvas


Pierre Buraglio, Untitled, 1983, mixed media


Louis Cane, Toile tamponnée, 1967, ink on canvas


Noël Dolla, Tarlatane, 1976, acrylic on gauze


Daniel Dezeuze, Echelle de bois souple, 1974, red paint on soft wood


Bernard Pagés, Fagot, 1968, mixed media


Supports/Surfaces, installation view, 2014, Canada, New York


Supports/Surfaces, installation view, 2014, Canada, New York

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