“My goal is to free sculpture from the constraints of composition and to criticize the utopian principle of an ideal order” – Bernar Venet, Forbes, September 2018
Widely regarded as one of France's greatest living artists, Bernar Venet has a resume that spans more than decades and includes exhibitions and accolades from all around the world. Highlights include solo exhibitions at prestigious French locations such as the Palace of Versailles, and the Arc de Triomphe. Locally, one of his tallest sculptures soars to almost 27 metres at Gibbs Farm, just north of Auckland. Gow Langsford Gallery is proud to present Arcs and Angles, a solo exhibition of works from two formative series, marking his first solo exhibition with Gow Langsford since 2012.
The first use of arcs and angles in Venet's practice came in the 1970s, where he created shaped minimalist canvases which recorded the equations of the angles at which the canvases had been cut. In a 2018 interview with Forbes, Venet states, "I thought that it would be a very radical gesture to start using mathematical diagrams because they would separate themselves from the tradition of art. Where all art before me was either figurative or abstract, a mathematical diagram is neither." His sculptures have now become physical embodiments of these previously two-dimensional renderings. Disorder: 9 Uneven Angles, and 13 Acute Unequal Angles, both coated with a rich black patina, are exquisite example of how these simple geometric angles as reductive forms are interpreted in an entirely new way when placed together. Venet's Arcs, such as 78.5" Arc x 13, follow a similar mathematical precision, yet the curvature of the forms contradict and challenge the rigidity of the materials used.
Venet’s career began in the early 1960s with an interest in performance and conceptual art. During this time, he exhibited alongside artists such as Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd and Dan Flavin. The years that followed saw Venet’s practice explore a wide range of disciplines including but not limited to, painting, photography, film, poetry, music composition, furniture design, performance art, and set design. Although his sculptures have dominated his practice over the past decades, the breadth of works he has produced is a testament to his diversity as an artist.
In 2015, he became a Knight within the National Order of the Legion of Honour and in 2016, Venet was granted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Centre; past winners include Frank Stella, George Rickey, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois and Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In October 2018, a retrospective with over 170 works from the past sixty years opened at Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon in Lyon, France.