Michel François in Naples at Alfonso Artiaco Galle...

Michel François in Naples at Alfonso Artiaco Gallery

The daily routine of life oscillates between time and randomness. The time of things and the randomness of their future condition thoughts, reflections, visions and actions. From there meanings to be attributed, definitions to be unhinged, emotions to be unleashed emerge. Sometimes it seems difficult to show this sinusoidal reality; one seeks the most complex means to do so, when the simplest, the truest, most natural means would suffice. This is the leitmotiv of the Belgian artist who is the protagonist of the new exhibition hosted by the Alfonso Artiaco gallery.

Michel François, Golden Cage, 2008, ferro, foglia d'oro, 250x400x300 cm, Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli, 2023. Ph. Grafiluce, courtesy Alfonso Artiaco

Michel François, Golden Cage, 2008, iron, gold leaf, 250 x 400 x 300 cm, Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli, 2023, ph. Grafiluce, courtesy Alfonso Artiaco

Michel François (b. 1956, lives and works in Brussels, Belgium) creates different meanings for known forms and ordinary situations using multiple mediums and media, presenting the most mundane things in a monumental way, in which the ephemeral grows expressive and the ordinary becomes extraordinary. His conceptual works do not claim a distinctive style, but create a net of shifting connections between them and the space around them. Such creations often make atypical use of forms and materials as well as experiences and lines of thought. In a way which is similar to that of Arte Povera artists, François uses a great economy of means to transform apparently simple objects and materials into deeply resonant carriers of meaning. His work can be seen as an exploration of cause and effect and the ways in which simple gestures can change the state of an object or have important consequences. For the artist, the relationship and interaction of the audience is of paramount temperance to emphasize how time and randomness give rise to the formation of things, which in this case are manifested in art works.

Michel François, installation view, Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli, 2023, ph. Grafiluce, courtesy Alfonso Artiaco

For the second time Michel François returns to Alfonso Artiaco’s gallery in Naples presenting a solo exhibition as an extension of his studio and in conjunction with the major anthological exhibition dedicated to him in the Bozar Museum in Brussels. On display we see a series of sculptures, installations, drawings and lithographs that recreate a modified reality in which opposites seem to fluctuate in a state of precarious balance, always striving for possible change. As a hallmark of the Belgian artist’s work, again all the works here are designed specifically for the space in Piazzetta Nilo.

Michel François, Retenue d’eau, 2023, plastic, nylon, water, variable dimensions, Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli, 2023, ph. Grafiluce, courtesy Alfonso Artiaco

Michel François, installation view, Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli, 2023, ph. Grafiluce, courtesy Alfonso Artiaco

Michel almost enters into a union with his work, and A souffle perdu (ligne rouge et noire) is an example of this: the installation of red and black blown glass balloons descends from the ceiling in its perfect fragility like the breath of the artist himself who produced it. In the wake of the vertical exhibition, there the installation Retenue d’eau follows, which is composed of a multitude of bags filled with water and suspended with nylon threads. In this sculpture it is possible to grasp the sensitivity and instability of physical tensions that reflect the environment and nature, in its strength, fullness, and emptiness.

Michel François, Scribble, 2010, aluminium, plaster and ink, 250 x 360 x 120 cm, Alfonso Artiaco, Napoli, 2023, ph. Grafiluce, courtesy Alfonso Artiaco

Scribble is a large-scale sculpture made of a dusting of lines – in aluminum and plaster – that emulates a large doodle. This work represents the macroscopic extension of François’s work, a work made of reflections and afterthoughts, like pencil on paper tracing and retracing thoughts. With Golden Cage – a four-square-meter cage covered with gold foil – the Belgian wants to entrust the user with its meaning: confinement or freedom, precious or ephemeral. Michel François tells through art an existentialism that is simple in its complexity due to the randomness of life. The mutability and timing of things cannot be controlled, and this unpredictability becomes aesthetic.


Michel François
03/04 – 13/05 2023
Alfonso Artiaco
Piazzetta Nilo 7, Napoli


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