Honor Fraser is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in the United States of work by Olivier Babin.
The exhibition, When I Was Young / When You Were Kings, brings together new painting, sculpture, and graphic work by the Paris-based artist. Babin draws his inspiration from language and conceptual ideology, working to cultivate a whimsical play between text, metaphor and art. He creates works that walk the line between the literal and conceptual; pieces that strike a balance in the multilayered realms that define wit and gravity. The exhibition is divided into two spaces, the main room building a tangible world with a weighty presence and the back room dissolving these tangible certainties into a hazy uncertain atmosphere.
In the series of paintings, Nos Plus Belles Annees, which translates to “Our Most Beautiful Years,” he reworks the concepts of time and nostalgia as seen through a conceptual rearview mirror homage to On Kawara’s series of date paintings. Babin samples art history and in effect distorts and mixes history; ultimately succeeding in creating a reflection of time that evokes a sentiment of melancholy transience. The dates are arbitrary, but in counting time the viewer will unwittingly try to project significance onto these markers of time.
Babin finds inspiration in his environment and searches for the humor in the everyday. The piece, titled Mr. William Randolph Hearst’s Favorite Log, is a bronze sculpture cast from a log acquired during a visit to Hearst Castle. The artist found in his visit that the entire castle, grounds included, are considered part of the museum, and he was required to receive special permission to remove the log from the garden. In a play on the idea of museum quality work, he addresses this conceptual idea in the replication of the log in an anomalous form.
The neon suitcases Little Blue Boys Blues evoke Marcel Duchamp’s “Box en Valise,” the suitcase a metaphor for a sales representative or kit for a wanderer, or it could also remind one of a Dan Flavin light piece. The works are overbearing yet ephemeral; evoking the imagery of a campfire or ocean waves, but the resonance can also be extinguished by closing the case or unplugging the transformer. Again, Babin is playing with the concepts of time and the paradoxical impossibility to constrain the perception of time.
Born in 1975 in Dijon, France, Babin graduated from the Universite de Bourgogne in 1998. He currently is attending the ISCP Residency Program in New York, NY and has a solo exhibition at Seomi & Tuus gallery in Seoul, Korea titled We live (in a time of our own). He also had a recent exhibition titled Tout sur le noir at galerie frank elbaz in Paris, France. He has participated in group exhibitions in such places as Palais de Tokyo and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and will be participating in two group shows in 2009, one titled N’importe quoi, curated by V. Pécoil & O. Vadrot, at the Musée d’Art contemporain in Lyon, France as well as Paper Exhibition, curated by Raimundas Malasauskas at Artists Space in New York, NY.