Perrotin Hong Kong presents the fourth exhibition dedicated to the conceptual painter Claude Rutault at the gallery, and his first exhibition in Asia.
The devices of the radical, original and poetic œuvre of this major artist upend the status of the author and of the work of art, questioning even the definition of a painting itself as a finished and autonomous object. In 1973, Claude Rutault painted a 20 x 20 cm canvas the same color as the wall in his kitchen. He quickly formalized this founding gesture with the first definition/method: “a stretched canvas painted the same color as the wall on which it’s hung. all commercially available formats can be used, be they rectangular, square, round or oval.”
The definition/method is a text written by the artist that precedes the painting. It expresses a goal to be achieved. It is not just the simple statement of an idea, but rather a collection of instructions, of provisions formulated for the charge-taker. The charge-taker is the collector who acquires—or the curator who exhibits—and accepts the responsibility of implementing a definition/method. He is essential to the existence of the painting, for without him, the work remains in an unrealized state of possibility.
the artist does not impose this or that color on the charge- taker who must then live with it.
In each text, the artist allows the charge-taker a certain number of choices. It is precisely this incomplete character of the definitions/methods that gives the work a dimension of evolution. The owners or exhibitors become actors in its creation, the work mutating along the course of their propositions. Claude Rutault delegates to the charge-taker a set of decisions that usually belong to the artist: the color of the canvases as well as the format, the form as well as the hanging of the canvases. The parameters vary from one work to the next according to the blanks the artist leaves in the texts..
my paintings have a short life, but they have several of them
The actualization of a definition/method by the charge-taker is the current, visible state of the work in a given place and time. It is of limited duration, until the next actualization in a different place, on a wall of a different color, in another format, etc. The manner of presentation of the painting is endlessly modi able. Thus, what a viewer discovers when visiting an exhibition of Claude Rutault is only one of the different forms a definition/ method can take.
In 44 years, Claude Rutault has developed a body of 654 works. The artist goes beyond the strict relationship between the canvas and the wall, and multiplies the possible scenarios in his texts by imagining a multitude of presentation modes: paintings forming a puzzle (“generalized painting-puzzle”), piles of canvases leaning against a wall, canvases placed on the flo or, hung from the ceiling (“dream canvases”), canvases turned towards the wall (“toward a self-portrait of painting”), going so far as the utilization of raw canvases, left unpainted. The scenarios become increasingly complex and may be executed by several charge-takers, playing with the passage of time, the geographical location of the actualization (“AMZ” or “im/ mobilier”) or the collections of a charge-taker.
The temporal dimension of Claude Rutault’s paintings is determinative; his work plays with time rather than enduring it, it is the driver. This is one of the fundamental givens of this work of painting that so radically distinguishes itself from other current productions.
It is no longer the point of view that changes, but the work itself, along the course of its actualizations and the passage of time.