Abstraction Meets Representation in New Paintings by Marc Desgrandchamps

Though Marc Desgrandchamps is celebrating his first solo show at Galerie Lelong’s Paris space, this is hardly his debut. His enigmatic paintings have been engaging viewers across Europe and Asia for years. In his latest show, “Soudain hier,” he presents 15 large-scale new works that meld abstraction and representation.

These new works—some oil on canvas, others gouache-on-paper mounted on canvas—are unified by a palette of blue, tan, and brown-black, as well as Desgrandchamps’s focus on landscape. In most, a lone male or female figure appears. Abstraction rubs against representation, as in an untitled work centered on a woman in a black bikini. We glimpse the woman through bare, slender branches in the painting’s foreground. The dark branches cut across the woman’s body and what appears to be a beachside landscape, overlaying a loosely geometric pattern onto the sunny scene.

In a second untitled work, this one a triptych, another woman appears. Here, Desgrandchamps places her smack in the center of the composition, like a visual anchor. Dressed in a simple black blouse and a busily patterned skirt, she stands at the edge of the sea on the pristine shores of a beach. Her outfit reads both as clothing and as a vigorous abstract passage against the landscape. Patches of bright blue behind her legs and white behind her head form the suggestion of a shadow.

In a decidedly 21st-century twist, Desgrandchamps places a smartphone in the hands of his female protagonist. She holds it low against her body, seemingly aiming it straight ahead, as if she were taking a picture—of us, perhaps, or of the artist himself, hinting at the dynamic between artist, viewer, and subject.


—Karen Kedmey


Marc Desgrandchamps: Soudain hier” is on view at Galerie Lelong, Paris, Nov. 24–Jan. 21, 2016.

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