Brice Guilbert’s Lyrical Abstraction

Brice Guilbert, "Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle," charcoal on wall, 2012; photo by Evanna FolkenfolkBrice Guilbert, “Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle,” charcoal on wall, 2012; photo by Evanna Folkenfolk

Article by Evanna Folkenfolk in Berlin; Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Art can never be natural, but it can be organic. It is always manufactured, always arising out of the social fabrics of the human life, often inspired by and expressing our socially constructed natures. The materials it is comprised of, however, can make it organic so long as they themselves are. This is the difference between sociology and chemistry, between the processes which create it and the compounds that constitute it.

Brice Guilbert’s art, showing at the Galerie Hunchentoot until October 13th, is as organic as it can never be natural. Three of the four pieces in the small gallery space are made of materials extracted from nature with minimal human intervention. The largest of them is comprised solely of charcoal applied directly to the wall with dark resin footprints surrounding the corner space. Two others, partnered together and flanking the charcoaled wall, were made in Guilbert’s studio with only the dust brought into the space by windy days. A paper canvas was laid on the floor and the dust applied to it according to Guilbert’s trajectory of movement as he walked through the space. Inside their composition is the code to his life and how he moves through it.

Brice Guilbert, "Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle," dust on paper, 2012; photo by Brice GuilbertBrice Guilbert, “Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle,” dust on paper, 2012; photo by Brice Guilbert

All three paintings are site-specific, in that the parameters of the space dictated the nature of the art generated. The charcoaled piece was created in collaboration with the walls of the gallery, with the angles of the space, with the texture of the floor as it absorbed and disseminated the fallen resin. The other two were specific to Guilbert’s studio, to the materials that collected on its floors, to the way the space dictated his movements and, thus, the way in which the dust was applied to the paper canvas.

In my conversation with the artist, Guilbert never mentions the term organic. He chooses different nouns to anchor his ideology: romanticism, the absence of aestheticism, anarchy. He acknowledges the way in which the space dictates the creation, but moves away quickly. It is not his intention to create site-stimulated art, or to use space as inspiration. His stimulus is more personal, more urgently human.

He mentions romanticism, though the heavily abstracted grays and blacks of his paintings would suggest anything but. “It is the representation of ideal feelings,” he says, and somehow this makes sense. “It is the romantic tension between interiority and exteriority, the tension between what I try to do with the space inside of my self and the space outside.”

Brice Guilbert, "Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle," charcoal resin on ground, 2012; photo by Evanna FolkenfolkBrice Guilbert, “Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle,” charcoal resin on ground, 2012; photo by Evanna Folkenfolk

It reminds me of a quote I love by Robert Brault, the famous American tenor. It says: “If I choose abstraction over reality, it is because I consider it the lesser chaos.” It is this chaos of everyday life that Guilbert sees and fights to express. “We live in a generation that has lost something,” he says, “something of form, of nature, of space.” His works struggle to find what has been lost, and in doing so, he creates beauty out of the banal, out of the simple components and movements of the lives we live.


Additional Information

Galerie Hunchentoot
BRICE GUILBERT – Fantôme / Levier / Obstacle
Exhibition: Sep. 08 – Oct. 13, 2012
Choriner Str. 8 (Click here for map)

To see more of Brice Guilbert’s work, please visit his website:


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