MENPHIS

Bertrand Lavier

Date : 2000

Medium : Mixed media

Size : 180 x 140cm

Acrylic on mirror
© Adagp, Paris, 2002

During the 1970s, Bertrand Lavier created photographic works, and later repainted objects in view of creating a painting. Examples include a piano, a window, a refrigerator, and a mirror, covered in a thick layer of paint of the same colour as the original object. Lavier’s mirror is covered with a thick coat of metallic paint. The surface becomes opaque with a few light reflections. The mirror is hence of no practical use but gives the spectator the opportunity to experience something unusual: he will not find his own image but a metaphor of what identity is, shallow and hazy.


This work was loaned to the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum for the “Perspectives” exhibition from 25 April to 25 May 2014.

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The guide


Mirror, mirror on the wall… Cléanthis, what will you reveal?
However, on closer inspection, is it really a mirror? We might call it a painting or a picture. In fact, Cléanthis is a hybrid, a painted object.

Starting in the early ’80s, Bertrand Lavier began the objets peints (“painted objects”) series.

The process is simple. He covers an object with a visible layer of paint, the colour of which echoes the colour of the object, black for a piano for example.
Here he has applied a layer of metallic paint to the mirror.

But Cléanthis is different. Let’s get closer. Can we see ourselves in the mirror? No, the reflection is still there but the image is blurred.
Bertrand Lavier has reimagined the purpose of the mirror.

Now let us look at the thick brushstroke, the working of the paint itself. In the objets peints series, Lavier describes it as a “Van Gogh-style brushstroke”. Here, we can see it as perhaps a mocking nod to gestural painting. Elsewhere he makes reference to Pollock, describing himself as “working in the grand tradition of tragic painting from Géricault to Pollock”.

“Cléanthis” highlights the act of painting and painting reduced to its most literal level of expression, that is, brushstroke and gesture.

This work may be a metaphor for modern painting of the 20th century, which ceased to reflect reality and left the frame in order to gain independence.