Cartography and topography have been for several years the heart of David Renaud’s artistic concern. Thanks to the representation of a place, both material and abstract, he questions our perception of geography, our way of reading a landscape. For this new solo show at gallery Anne Barrault, David Renaud proposes sea maps: the sea as a field of liberty for the artist and the spectator.
The work named Point Nemo gives a first clue to this project. Point Nemo or the sea pole of inaccessibility is the farthest point, in longitude and latitude, of the earth. The artist represents it by “a double map”: a conventional map placed side by side with a map with coordinates only. This work has the same title as that of the exhibition, being
one of the possible answers. We have this idea of “a basic” map in the series of compass rose maps. It is made of large maps combining two systems from two different periods. On the one hand, there are large blue flat areas, referring to the blue in our contemporary maps, and on the other hand, the drawing of a compass rose, from the Renaissance sailing system. The substance of the map, thus limited, is just enough so that it is recognized as such. Beyond its mere cartographic function, the blue, which means the sea, is also a colour, a vibration. More than ever, the artist captures an impressive dimension.
In the second set, there are also maps like colourful vibrations: on a grey background, the geographic coordinates of islands are marked. The meaning of this work is in the names of the islands: “despair”, “devastation”, “the unnameable ”, etc. There is a strange link between the coordinates, which make it difficult for one to imagine a palpable reality, and these highly significant names. Colour and names open up the way to the spectator’s imagination, thanks to the map. Jean-Yves Jouannais says as much when he speaks of David Renaud’s work: “the side effect of the violation and the cartographic control of spaces creates infinite ways of deflowering, penetration for the imagination.”(1)
The last series is entitled Landscape USA 2010. It repeats the design of the Navy camouflage dress. Like the artist, you may wonder about the military and functional use of this camouflage, meant to hide, and worn by sailors on a ship. This particular camouflage, a “digi-camouflage”, using a pixel pattern, is distorted by the painting. It becomes a map of a kind, giving the spectator the possibility to get to an altogether different universe: “The perfect place for a Snark!” (2)
(1) Jean-Yves Jouannais in l’Oeil, 2009
(2) Carroll Lewis, 1876, The hunting of the Snark.