RANDOM WALK - CAROLINE DENERVAUD

Overview

Simard Bilodeau Contemporary is delighted to announce the opening of RANDOM WALK, Caroline Denervaud's debut solo exhibition in Los Angeles.

Random Walk is artist Caroline Denervaud's debut solo exhibition in Los Angeles. It features her latest work on canvas and on paper.

 

In Caroline Denervaud’s paintings, a repertoire of invisible choreographies scaffold echoes of familiar abstractions. These meandering compositions trace the lyrical movements of her body across the canvas, creating a dialogue between the gestural physicality of painting and the visceral expressiveness of dance. 

 

Working in the lineage of Pina Bausch and Rudolf von Laban and harnessing the kinetic energy of abstract expressionism and early performance art, Denervaud’s process is inherently emotive, born of an accident that left her unable to dance professionally. Beginning with blank paper or linen splayed across her studio floor, she initiates an improvisational series of movements that gradually unfold atop the crisp, white surface, reframing the rectilinear canvas––traditionally erected on the wall––as a secondary layer of earth beneath her body. She begins her hypnotic dance by lying on the floor rather than by standing on two feet, a decision that indelibly merges her entire physical form with that of the canvas, eschewing any semblance of choreographic hierarchy. Holding a piece of charcoal or a brush dipped in paint, she scrawls and drips it across the surface, tracing intuitive arcs of movement that often lead her to paint directly across her body; in some instances, her body twists and glides without leaving a concrete record of its presence. Buttressed by these liminal, and sometimes invisible, physical histories, the resulting marks function as an index of ephemerality. Here, Denervaud flattens the interstitial space between mind, body, and painterly surface, positing the canvas as a multidimensional arena––or stage––for capturing a poetic catalogue of diverse gestural forms. 

 

The language of these paintings germinates and ripens over time, originating in the locomotive realm of the body and graduating to multilayered washes of painted color. In the large-scale work Spring Paths (2022), bands of garden-hued colors orbit organic circular forms; these chromatic pathways suggest the loops and folds of the body as well as the microscopic cellular networks of other biotic organisms. Materially, Denervaud’s washy application of pigment recalls the velvety texture of pastel and is often translucent enough to reveal the histories of the movement-generated marks buried beneath. In Sweet Mirage (2022), angles and crescents of color––chartreuse, azure, beet, marigold, violet, and rose––intermingle to form an undulatory composition, as if each shaped color field were slowly bleeding into the next. The work’s title specifically references the effulgent light of Southern California, suggesting the uncanny psychedelic qualities of an elusive desert mirage. In fact, Denervaud conceived of this entire body of work with the specific landscape of Los Angeles in mind––a city she had yet to visit––a fact that frames the exhibition itself as a speculative perceptual experience of an unknown environment. Her choice of palette reflects this, recalling blooming desert flora and chromatic shifts of light from day to night. Appropriate to their origins, many of these works evince their own visual cadence and rhythm––a gestural choreography that ultimately transcends the confines of the body and settles into the sphere of the abstract. 

 

Denervaud’s video works depict her initial movements across the canvas, revealing the inception of her ritualistic mark-making process. Captured on Super 8 film, the haptic materiality of which evokes the textured surfaces of the works themselves, the videos reveal the fluid dexterity of the artist’s choreography and primal yet balletic confidence. Despite their somatic connection to the paintings, these films function as discrete works of art independent from the final painted objects. Within these moving images, the artist flutters, swoops, and cranes as if in a trance, negotiating both the contours of her own figure as well as the boundaries of the stark white frame. Here, geometries collide: the serpentine body transgresses the autonomy of the rectilinear canvas and vice versa, proposing the artist as a gesture upon the surface of her own work. 

 

– Jessica Simmons-Reid 



Caroline Denervaud (b. 1978, Switzerland) lives and works in Paris. A dancer by training, she studied Contemporary Dance at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, and later studied at l’École des Beaux-Arts and Studio Berçot in Paris. Her work is part of prominent art collections throughout Europe and America. In addition to having numerous solo and group exhibitions, she has participated in multiple art fairs in France, England and the US. Random Walk is her debut solo exhibition in the US with Simard Bilodeau Contemporary in Los Angeles.

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