In 1884, the British professor and theologian Edwin A. Abbott published Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, an allegorical narrative against dogmatism, with protagonists who are geometric shapes. The narrator, a square from a world in two dimensions called Flatland, tells of his discovery of Spaceland, a world in three dimensions. Back in his country, the square finds it impossible to convince his community of the existence of a third dimension, which for them is inexorably unthinkable and invisible. He is declared a heretic and subsequently imprisoned and while in jail he tells of his revelation and of his misfortune.
Flatland / Narrative Abstractions #2, the first part of which was presented at the MRAC Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée in Sérignan in 2016, brings together some twenty contemporary artists who doubly echo Abbott’s book: on the one hand, because they compose narratives from abstract forms; on the other hand, because by collating the notions of “abstraction” and “narration”, they may be considered heretical from the point of view of a certain history of art. Indeed, inseparable as it is from artistic modernity, abstraction has largely been based on the rejection of narration and symbolism in the field of visual art. To associate “abstraction” and “narration” could at first be seen as a contradiction in terms, an impossibility, even though this is questioned in a large number of contemporary productions.
The aim of this exhibition is to highlight one of the most original and paradoxical forms related to the return of narrative in contemporary art. Loaded with references to artistic as well as extra-artistic fields, undoing the autonomy of visual languages advocated by historical abstractions, the artworks in Flatland / Narrative Abstractions #2 are intentionally presented as silent narratives waiting to be activated by the viewer. It is thus a case of tracing the contours of a singular trend and highlighting the diversity of its manifestations and themes via a multitude of artists from Europe and the United States.