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Live and work in Lille (France).
 

Delage + Olson is a duo of artists whose work is made up of poetry and light. First and foremost, there is always a rigour of form, unrivalled precision and attention to detail. Then there's the desire or the need to highlight something that has to do with humanity. These works speak to us of love, life and death; of justice, fairness and the body. The fact remains that they seek, again and again, to turn their most implicit works into vanities.

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The works recently presented by the Delage + Olson design and production studio to visitors to the Galerie Bacqueville solo show in Lille confirm the positioning of this French artist duo in an unconventional niche of the contemporary art scene.

 

At first glance, Delage + Olson's work is offered without program or instructions. Visitors in search of anecdotes about the conditions under which the works were conceived and/or produced, or about the artists' biographical adventures, will be in for a treat. In fact, they don't need to. With this highly accomplished work, we find ourselves at an aesthetic-narrative crossroads that generates its own keys to apprehension. In the work of Delage + Olson, everything is work and everything is in the work. All is work because, curiously, the work comes with its own context. Let me explain: through the very careful choice of the materials of which they are composed, their design and the balance of their proportions, it appears that the "en-cadrements" constitute the mastered context of the work, or, as it were, its essence. It could be argued that this is merely the historical function of the frame as a boundary between what is not the work and what begins to be, the solution of continuity between the neutrality of the general support (architectural or museum) and the intrinsic domain of the space to which the work, considered as the signifying element, extends its meaning, contaminating, in short, what in it makes art, but not content with proposing together the work - or its essence - and its own context - the frame/container - the work provides its own illumination. I'm speaking literally as well as figuratively here: a subtle lighting device contained within the frame itself dispenses its own light "into" the work, an element of the work itself - as we know, Delage + Olson have never ceased to consider material/light as an integral part of the vocabulary of their artistic language - making it independent of any external lighting, and therefore autonomous, and thus relegating the architectural context to a level of no significant consequence. To put it another way, the work, conditioned in a pristine, untouched space whose interactions with it are perfectly controlled, extends into that space.

Another key to the self-generated nature of the work (which is not indicated on any of the labels) lies in the almost systematic use of elements of language in the works themselves: speech is established - and marked, written and drawn - between the artists and the viewer. Often, the artists call out to the viewer, but discreetly: "Look at you!", "This is the end, turn back", or less discreetly: "Bang bang, you're dead", messages that are always intense, sometimes dystopian, and in this case at odds with the particularly serene, concentrated feeling conveyed by the pieces on display. The label is thus part of the work. It is in this combination of formal elements of autonomy and their own narrative elements that the narrative of these microcosms, where signs, abstract forms and small everyday objects often themselves marked by meaning and fragility - a stamp that speaks of elsewhere and the fragility of a link, wires strung Fred Sandback-style, photos of anonymous people, other spatial-temporal microcosms - is set... Multiple reading levels, intersecting narratives, stimulate the viewer's imagination. Narrative lines are plural. Discreet yet powerful. These works are anything but "anecdote paintings", quickly consumed, falsely satiated and quickly forgotten.​

Delage + Olson take the ambiguity of combining language and light a step further. In some of the boxes, the words, sentences and propositions themselves become luminous: but the artists play with perception, imposing a proximity of the viewer to the box, forcing him or her to become physically mobile, drawing him or her to it, then sending back his or her reflection, losing him or her in a blurred line, in simulated shimmers, in a kind of black hole where the words are swallowed up. I was going to say that Delage + Olson's works establish an intimate relationship with the viewer, but it seemed, from the comments of the very attentive visitors who browsed the walls of Lille's most interesting gallery to date (we could say, without fear of oversight, the best gallery north of Paris), that they have more of a universal vocation: a perfectly measured aesthetic and a temporal positioning that could well make them timeless.

Paul Dubois - Curator and art critic

The works recently presented by the Delage + Olson design and production studio to visitors to the Galerie Bacqueville solo show in Lille confirm the positioning of this French artist duo in an unconventional niche of the contemporary art scene.

 

At first glance, Delage + Olson's work is offered without program or instructions. Visitors in search of anecdotes about the conditions under which the works were conceived and/or produced, or about the artists' biographical adventures, will be in for a treat. In fact, they don't need to. With this highly accomplished work, we find ourselves at an aesthetic-narrative crossroads that generates its own keys to apprehension. In the work of Delage + Olson, everything is work and everything is in the work. All is work because, curiously, the work comes with its own context. Let me explain: through the very careful choice of the materials of which they are composed, their design and the balance of their proportions, it appears that the "en-cadrements" constitute the mastered context of the work, or, as it were, its essence. It could be argued that this is merely the historical function of the frame as a boundary between what is not the work and what begins to be, the solution of continuity between the neutrality of the general support (architectural or museum) and the intrinsic domain of the space to which the work, considered as the signifying element, extends its meaning, contaminating, in short, what in it makes art, but not content with proposing together the work - or its essence - and its own context - the frame/container - the work provides its own illumination. I'm speaking literally as well as figuratively here: a subtle lighting device contained within the frame itself dispenses its own light "into" the work, an element of the work itself - as we know, Delage + Olson have never ceased to consider material/light as an integral part of the vocabulary of their artistic language - making it independent of any external lighting, and therefore autonomous, and thus relegating the architectural context to a level of no significant consequence. To put it another way, the work, conditioned in a pristine, untouched space whose interactions with it are perfectly controlled, extends into that space.

Another key to the self-generated nature of the work (which is not indicated on any of the labels) lies in the almost systematic use of elements of language in the works themselves: speech is established - and marked, written and drawn - between the artists and the viewer. Often, the artists call out to the viewer, but discreetly: "Look at you!", "This is the end, turn back", or less discreetly: "Bang bang, you're dead", messages that are always intense, sometimes dystopian, and in this case at odds with the particularly serene, concentrated feeling conveyed by the pieces on display. The label is thus part of the work. It is in this combination of formal elements of autonomy and their own narrative elements that the narrative of these microcosms, where signs, abstract forms and small everyday objects often themselves marked by meaning and fragility - a stamp that speaks of elsewhere and the fragility of a link, wires strung Fred Sandback-style, photos of anonymous people, other spatial-temporal microcosms - is set... Multiple reading levels, intersecting narratives, stimulate the viewer's imagination. Narrative lines are plural. Discreet yet powerful. These works are anything but "anecdote paintings", quickly consumed, falsely satiated and quickly forgotten.​

Delage + Olson take the ambiguity of combining language and light a step further. In some of the boxes, the words, sentences and propositions themselves become luminous: but the artists play with perception, imposing a proximity of the viewer to the box, forcing him or her to become physically mobile, drawing him or her to it, then sending back his or her reflection, losing him or her in a blurred line, in simulated shimmers, in a kind of black hole where the words are swallowed up. I was going to say that Delage + Olson's works establish an intimate relationship with the viewer, but it seemed, from the comments of the very attentive visitors who browsed the walls of Lille's most interesting gallery to date (we could say, without fear of oversight, the best gallery north of Paris), that they have more of a universal vocation: a perfectly measured aesthetic and a temporal positioning that could well make them timeless.

Paul Dubois - Curator and art critic

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