Those who have spent even a short time with Guillaume Bottazzi will have encountered his subtle medley of determination and sensitivity. He does not talk about his art like a journey that can be summed up or like a career, but rather like a gesture, one that nourishes an emotional grammar of space. His art is receptive and unfamiliar with the formal divide between spectator and artwork since he has overcome that chasm and is able to make the forms and colours of bodies and sensations flow together in strategic parts of the city, inviting spectators to inhabit his paintings rather than simply observe them. Large painted walls look like steamers coming towards us, inviting us on a voyage; they brighten and uplift the tones and rhythms of urban space.
Guillaume Bottazzi is able to make formal metamorphosis materialize before us and is as such able to reunite and reconstruct things long separated – public and private life, body and mind; he relentlessly works on the enigma of the spectator’s presence within the paintings and surroundings observed, and yet never is his work, albeit very free, in any way immediate or strictly spontaneous. It is much more. It is solidly rooted in both a culture and a passion. That of Italian art, of Fra Angelico, studied early on, when the artist was barely in his twenties. Then came a passion for travel, trips and encounters. Next, things flourished and accelerated: a studio in Lyon, consecration in America and the Japanese adventure starting in 2004.
And then Asia. A world in which art conjures as much as it shows; a world in which deliberate obliqueness and fertile allusiveness demand different approaches to seeing and sensing. A foray into otherness, too. A constant, turbulent renewal. A modern and intense blending of speed and depth of perception. Museums where movement fuses with new creations to create events in city space and thus re-present, reclaim and reconstruct the body of monuments. This is the case at the Miyanomori International Museum of Art in Sapporo where the museum’s facades have become the backdrop for a Guillaume Bottazzi creation covering 900m². Another monumental mark left on Japan is an abstract work of 3.30 m by 33 m long in Tokyo which alludes to the traffic flows and haste which pulse through and shape space in a district that never rests, is always on the go, eventful and which finds in this masterpiece its glistening and moving reflection. A work that become part of the inheritage of the city, monumental and thus visible from numerous vantage points which are more or less errant or stationary, up close or distant, attentive or furtive; the presence of the surface in these variations of intensity creates a desire to look at the painting by moving with it and almost within it. Perception of Guillaume Bottazzi’s work is thus subordinate to the body of all those who encounter it. A body summoned, provoked and then finally invited to move beyond the banal acknowledgement of a lifeless or frozen gaze..
There is something very musical at work which stems from a perpetual swaying between the different possibilities of what is seen, the interlacing of its layers and dynamic. The work is not solitary, sentenced to the silence of seclusion; it becomes serial, calling for and at the same time creating a very large audience which is at once its inspiration, witness and protector.span>
An art of connections and metamorphosis. Creating, giving us much to see, but not trying to explain any more than necessary. Getting others equally involved. In Japan, France or elsewhere, the regorous generosity of Guillaume Bottazzi makes him present for all those who look at and inhabit his work.
Here too, and again, Japan – where cultural mediation is non-existent – serves as a telltale territory. Working with spectators, getting them involved in the time it takes and for the duration of the creation, talking to them, appearing as a body that is set up in a place while creating forms, rhythms and colours, all of this forms an event. If Guillaume Bottazzi’s art is able to upset fixedness with a stream of transformations, it is certainly because his presented and monumentalized art calls out much more so than would something that is finitely set. I see the source of an adventure that uses a backdrop and network of sensations to test of what the spectator is – deliberately or unwittingly – capable. The artist’s aesthetic adventures call on sensory components which ground the body in time and space. With their resounding and gleaming physique, vivid materiality, joyous yet controlled turmoil, and through the spaces in which they exist, the artist’s creations encourage transformation.
If, at each encounter, they seem to float, imbibed with lightness and scansion in the overly geometrical and cumbersome layout of flat and cubic space in our cities, time is nonetheless present. And, as such, the paintings are also slow, they require endurance and our relationship changes with each one. And then they become independent again. They once again become what those who look at, visit and feel inspired by them, wish them to be. The paintings journey on with each publicly commissioned piece.
I would really like to insist on the call to the body which is so strong in all of Guillaume Bottazzi’s work since it is also rooted beyond the strictly aesthetic realm, and point up its depth based on a totally incredible experience. The artist attempted and tackled an experiment in artistic mediation with blind people in France and deaf people in Japan. An experiment with obvious limitations, that required a great force of conversion and translation and which, by altering the way things are usually experienced, created a spectator in a borderline state, an impending witness. Art in this context was the root of a concrete gesture, one that is to the point and seeks out metamorphosis of feelings and experience, without allowing itself to be intimidated or stifled by a ready-made theory or psychology of sensations. The art of Guillaume Bottazzi intertwines similar and diverse forms and tenses. An exemplary case of this is when it rightly assumes a topos that is both mental and physical, in which the body’s senses and flows can invent new forms of time and types of glimmer, can experience ways of displaying things with which they were not yet familiar, that they had not even imagined. Like all innovative art, in doing so, Guillaume Bottazzi draws out the childhood (not childish) potential that all transformations require – a hidden and erotic potential to shift conventional sensory grammar.
Above and beyond injury – be it from so-called “disability” or catastrophe, the artist not only makes the world more attractive, he also makes it fit to live in and share, he dresses it up to bring out its enigmatic and playful side.
O. Douville (psychoanalyst and anthropologist)
Official website of Guillaume Bottazzi, visual artist.
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