The Ends of Painting, 2018-2020

As from today, painting is dead.

This sentence was pronounced nearly two centuries ago, in 1839, by the painter Paul Delaroche when he discovered early photographs marking the obsolescence of painting in such a context. And throughout the modernist era, the death of art warrant has been an ongoing topic in art and has been regularly reenacted. Alexander Rodchenko 100 years ago, on the occasion of the 1921 exhibition of his famous three monochrome paintings, resumed his death warrant:

I reduced painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three canvases: red, blue and yellow. Then I affirmed: it’s all over.

The Ends of Painting questions this issue of the multiple ends of painting and alludes to all the « ends of … » that characterizes our current times: the end of art, the end of man, the end of civilization, the end of politics, the end of history and of course the end of the world.

For several years, I have been collecting images from Google Image Search, by googling “the end of painting” on a routine basis, leading to an accumulative data of hundreds of thousands of images. I then make a selection, only to retrieve two series of images, one composed of images of paintings and artworks, and another with images that are offbeat, ironic, memes, and which form a representative set of the internet culture.

From this selected images database, I develop an algorithmic broadcast system that projects these images randomly by juxtaposing them, melting them into one another, hybridizing them, while producing flickers and glitches. This infinite video flux, without any beginning or end, is projected on 3 vertical screens, red, yellow and blue, echoing Rodchenko’s triptych.

The installation addresses the issue of ends that never end with the approach of an apocalypse already behind us.

Everything has always already starting and everything is always coming to an end (1)

(1)Jean Luc Nancy & Federico Ferrari, La fin des fins, 2018