Over the course of the last few years, the work of Eric Aubertin has been considerably transformed. An overview of the questions that have punctuated his work would prove to be quite confounding. A single element, collage, appears as a constant, but is that enough? Collage, like painting or sculpture, is simply a pretext. If one considers choice, method and color, can Eric Aubertin be deemed a true collagist?
From the Magazines Life series to Lignes et Bordures, through Tape Art et Ornementations, paper gave way to tape. Narrative constructions were cast aside for color. What started as a jab at popular conventions and media madness, has progressively become an optical play of color on the surface, and marked interest in light. Eric Aubertin has expressed a preference for the controlled manipulation of adhesive tape to meticulous scissor cuts. In his more recent compositions, he introduces phosphorescent adhesives. However disparate his choice of medium between his early and recent work, his rigor remains the same; the lines and calculations are precise and so the process of production has not changed much.
Now dedicated to “tape art”, he leaves as much room for improvisation of shapes as he does the studied rhythm of the colors. If it is possible to be at once strict and permissive, this is the goal Eric Aubertin has set for himself. With Lignes et Bordures, he numbers the primary borders of a piece and by means of an arbitrary system, determines the master lines that will divide each piece. These lines are foundational and once they are established, they dictate the totality of the collage. Once in motion, the mechanism is irreversible. The logic he imposes is the only rule. The artist chooses an unpredictable path and paradoxically chooses chance.
By developing a method of work comparable to automatism or even improvisation, Eric Aubertin has freed himself from the prevailing censorship of his earlier series, where every scissor cut and each manipulation endures an often over-calculated scrutiny. Eric Aubertin has taken on a singular struggle: how to find a balance between the desire to have absolute control over a medium while retaining a composition as free and autonomous as it is precise.
Text: Émilie Renaud-Roy
Strange Universe...Bizarre objects, barbaric procedures,
an absurd collection of parts with esoteric purposes, used by improbable people with troubled motives, evolving into incongruous displays of incomprehensible frenzy....A worrisome world with infinite familiarity, distressing even, because it is ours and we have been wallowing in it since our earliest amniotic days.
We were taught to walk, to speak, to know when to shut up, to know good from evil, to conjugate and sometimes even to think. We were taught many things, but little was explained. We asked many questions and answers were seldom, a curt and ascerbic because was all too often the final word. Why that and not something else? Why rain and not anvils in freefall? Why an automobile and not a bepedalled hard-boiled egg? Find out for yourself, we were told. Because.
Do we sufficiently question the deontological code of our reality, which sighingly accepts the usual unworld (hatred, cruelty, genocides and all sorts of skulduggery) and riots against some insignificant lapse in common sense, some minute defiance of the accepted norm. Those two cold molluscs on a sofa in a cozy living room : ridiculous? That baby Jesus with a vulva head : obscene? Those delicate anthropophagical games amongst the uppercrust :grotesque?
Not so. Quite simply otherwise. Imported from a perfectly legitimate parallel universe, as so many soft retaliations to urgent questions left behind for too long. To the whys?
This crime of otherness, this lèse-majesté of the quotidien rigidity of beings and things is too rare not to be displayed before this impossibly bland world - superbly thumbing its nose, gracefully flipping the bird in the face of rigid conventions.
To let the cat out of the bag : Eric Aubertin is a god, a small god without capitals or elementary particles, a little solo god, without angels to hold his tail, an obscure toiling away in his modest workshop, a demiurge short of breath for seven days did not suffice to patent a final version of the universe. In fact, while causing ant hill-like frenzy, Aubertin creates nothing.
If he has any genius in him, this is precisely where he thrives in all his brilliance : Aubertin leaves the dirty work to the big gods. While they rack their brains creating, tinkering, bothering, suffering, raising, moaning, destroying, rejecting and restarting their genesis at square one, a thousand times over; he walks behind, collecting, recycling, fastening and giggling. On one side, the great school of special effects, nudes, clay, thunder, fire, blood, a hollywood script to a tee; on the other, scraps, scissors, pot of glue. The advantage is clear. (Note in passing this contradictory reflection : Symbols of censorship in the past, scissors regain their original function through Aubertin: liberators of ideas. And so Allah is great.)
Enough chit chat. Let us speak less, speak correctly, buckle down and keep our ocular globes wide open. Let us wander from one tableau to the next, paths open onto a lost world finally found (the image of portholes piercing the palissades that surround the great construction sites, to the travellers’ delight). Let us indulge in the soft vertigo of the conquerer facing brand new continents. For a few moments, let us abandon the lameness of our flavour-of-the-day and let ourselves be seduced by the enchanter of relics, the refuse tamer, the juggler of miscellany, the one who undertakes the ruins of Spain. Let us slowly consider that our reality is not but a pale, timid suggestion, one of a billion possible combinations. Let us suppose that our waking state is nothing but the sketch of a dream and that the sketch of this dream is no less real than a draft of reality.
Let us ask ourselves if this little god’s megalomania will ever spill over from his canvas to overtake us.
Personally, I can ask for nothing better.
Sometimes people look at me strangely.
No matter. I cut and I paste. Here and there.