Nuageux (Requiem for Toulouse-Lautrec) is shaped like a long cloud floating in the Malromé gallery. Light as mesh and made from thousands of joined Japanese chopsticks, it captures and reflects light from the windows. The result is an incongruous image of a cloud confined in a château, as if Hayao Miyazaski’s Castle in the Sky had been turned on its head. But this new installation also explores the history of the Château Malromé, the last home of the painter Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec, which emerges through the work like a watermark. He spent his summers at Malromé, which belonged to his mother Adèle. This was where he painted and escaped from Paris life. Dying at the age of 36, he spent his final days here. He is buried in Verdelais cemetery, just four kilometres from Malromé.
Nuageux is a metaphor for the dark days of September 1901. It aims to reproduce the floating state of mind of Lautrec, sick and fatally addicted to alcohol, as he waits for death. Like a final breath, this cloud is a 21st-century Japanese artist’s tribute to a 19th-century painter passionate about Japanese prints, particularly the Ukiyo-e (“images of a floating world”) movement. The conversation spans the centuries and continents and is particularly evident in the material chosen by Tadashi Kawamata – chopsticks. Both fragile and solid, like Lautrec himself, they are eminently popular and universal, as were the painter’s prints of the Moulin Rouge. For many years, Kawamata used these chopsticks to represent beams, and he decided a short while ago to put them at the heart of his monumental installations, including Nest (Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris, Autumn 2017).
Nuageux is one of a long line of ceilings created by the Japanese artist throughout his career, including the poignant Under the Water (Galerie Kamel Mennour, 2011, and Centre Pompidou Metz, 2016), produced in the wake of the tsunami that devastated the coast of Japan in 2011. These ceilings represent what is probably a more personal and poetic body of work, in which purely plastic and contextual concerns give way to matters touching on the fragility of the human condition.
Images: Archives Kamel Mennour Courtesy of the artist and Kamel Mennour, Paris-London.
TADASHI KAWAMATA Nuageux (Requiem for Toulouse-Lautrec)
07.07.2018 – 23.09.2018
Located in Sud Gironde in the Entre-Deux-Mers region, Château Malromé is steeped in history, art and gastronomy. Begun in the 16th century and surrounded by a vineyard cultivated for half a millennium, the Château was the family home of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Malromé’s cultural programme combines guided tours of the painter’s apartments and exhibitions of works by contemporary artists that reflect Toulouse- Lautrec’s interests and his fascination for Japan. The Adèle x Maison Darroze restaurant serves dishes inspired by traditional regional fare with an Asian twist