The artist borrows a phrase from John Stuart Mill to give the exhibition its title:Chaos as an underestimated principle of order. The quote offers a perfect introduction to an understanding of the exhibition and to the poetics of Bernar Venet.
The first and strongest impact comes from the monumental sculpture Effondrement: 217.5° Arc x 11 of 2009, arranged in an offset position with regard to the centre of the exhibition space. The work comprises eleven elements bent to 217.5 degrees in Cor-Ten steel, and seems to collapse in on itself in a mysterious force field that places the arches in a coherent dialogue between order and disorder, between dynamism and power: an “Action Sculpture in slow motion” as the artist himself cares to define it.
Seven reliefs have been laid along the walls of the gallery, comprising a series of nervous and uncontrolled signs, torch- cut from steel plates 35 mm thick. These recent works from the GRIB series (executed between 2011 and 2015) are “scribbles” that take three-dimensional form and, mindful of the chaotic and undefined Indeterminate Lines, represent a new stage in the French artist’s production.
The line itself, whether straight, curved or angled, is thus depicted as such and as the material form of a basic definition: a route joining two points, a simple tautology. An application of chaos theory to the artistic object where “matter is not used to create form, but is itself form” with its semantic variations and “order and disorder, one and many, systems and distributions, islands and sea, noise and harmony, belonging as much to the subject as to the object”. (Michel Serres)
A series of 2015 works on paper in charcoal and collage are displayed in a quiet room within the gallery, to invite the observer to a moment of reflection and calm. The exhibition ends and opens with a work that the artist will “draw” during the opening night on a wall in the gallery, using steel arches daubed in black ink as his tools.