“My first painting in 30 years!” says Gérard Mermoz, with an enigmatic smile, referring to Paysage, which has won the Coventry Open 2016, now on exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery.
In fact, Mermoz – artist, curator and provocateur – has subjected the notion of painting and the aura of the individual work of art to multiple levels of deconstruction, with the crucial involvement of the exhibition’s organisers at Culture Coventry.
The work is an appropriation – a ‘found’ painting complete with indecipherable signature, subjected to some interventions by Mermoz, chiefly with a sharp implement. For the exhibition poster, and the brochure, the gallery has severely cropped this rather small painting, converting it from landscape to portrait format.
Then, in his speech at the opening Chris Kirby, director of exhibitions at Culture Coventry, called the work ‘Passage’ – a term freighted with significance. This is not so much a work in the Coventry Open, as a work involving the Coventry Open.
The neo-conceptual project, with its subversion of the art object, is widely regarded as having long ago run it course. This splendid collaboration suggests that there may still be just a flicker of life in the genre.
(This was an intervention in the landscape of this blog.)