Marquetry and Moving Images: Julien Gardair

by Stephanie Chan; all photos by Julien Gardair unless otherwise indicated

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Cutout from the See Through series (2014)

From expansive site-specific installations to coffee table collages, multimedia artist Julien Gardair seems to do it all. His extensive portfolio includes video sculptures, outsize cutouts of free-form felt and asphalt, and innumerable glossy magazines, excavated for color, form and meaning.

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A La Francaise; Eden Rock gallery, St Barths (2011)

The common theme that runs throughout all his work is that of discovery. “I’m trying to find things that I don’t know,” Gardair explains. “Sometimes you actually discover something that nobody knew. So I try to find ways to make new connections.”

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C’est Pas L’homme; Caribbean Sea (2010)

Gardair’s work is informed by the various cultures and countries where he has worked and travelled, ranging from his native France to the Middle East. Earlier this year at an art residency in Abu Dhabi, he created a meditative space enclosed by walls of stenciled palm leaf marquetry. Video and sound combined to weave an atmospheric tapestry of contemplation, inviting visitors to stay and open themselves to the experience.

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Camera Locus 4; Homesession, Barcelona, Spain (2011)

When asked about the various mediums he creates with, Gardair says, “I just go from one to the other, and you learn from each. I have to make them all, you know? It’s just the way it is.”

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Cutout from the See Through series (2014)

A constant in Gardair’s repertoire seems to be the magazine collages and cutouts that he creates almost endlessly in a stream of consciousness. Each work looks like a miniature archaeological dig, with layers of colors and occasional disjointed objects appearing and disappearing.

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Cutout from the Between The Lines series (2014)

His work is organic, flowing from one medium to the other as he translates magazine collages to paintings, almost as though conversing with himself. Even leftover magazine pieces are incorporated back into other works of art, repurposed as stencils in his Spray Through series. Motifs and shapes seem to emerge, like glimpses of psyche that may or may not have symbolism. As Gardair says, “At the end of the day, the interpretation is the viewer’s.” The result of Gardair’s self-reflective artwork, then, is almost something of a Rorschach test for the viewers as they find connections and assign meaning to a familiar shape or curve.

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Tequilamatitale (2014), Photo Credit: Tequila Herradura

Recently, Gardair entered and won second place in the New York division of the Herradura Barrel Art Collection contest. His video installation, a shadow puppet-esque theater staged within a charcoal-lined barrel, called upon mythic imagery of the Aztec goddess Mayahuel. Through abstract imagery, Gardair’s installation also told the history of the city of Tequila and depicted the labor-intensive process of tequila distillation.

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Camera Locus Lattara; Musee Henri Prades, Lattes, France (2014)

“The great thing about video is that video can integrate anything,” Gardair says. “And you have time with the images, so you can start to articulate very complex content. With space, that adds another layer.”

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Dear a video sculpture (2014)

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Dear video still (2014)

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Julien Gardair’s show, “Before You Go,” is currently on exhibition in a group show at the Jeffrey Meier Gallery, from Oct. 24 to Feb. 2nd, 2015. The gallery is located at 14 Church St, Lambertville, NJ 08530.

Julien Gardair has a piece in “Over the Edge: Paperworks Unbound, Part 2,” a group show at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (WAH) on view until January 4, 2015. WAH is located at 135 Broadway, Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY 11211.

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Greenouille; La Graineterie, Houilles, France (2010)