ArtAttack sat down with emerging contemporary artist Jean-François Le Minh to discuss his artistic practise.
Since the first decades of the twentieth century, with the rise of more radical constructivist practices, painting had been thought to be nearing the end of its usefulness. In his publication ‘Challenge to Painting’ (1930) the Parisian poet and critic Louis Aragon stated:
‘Painting has not always existed; we can determine when it began. And if its development and its moments of greatness can be drummed into our heads, can we not then also imagine its periods of decline and even its end, like any other idea? – Louis Aragon
London based artist Jean-François Le Minh continues this conversation; his current practice engages with the discourse surrounding the status of painting and its atemporality in relation to conceptualism.
His recent work pushes the boundaries of what constitutes art, and specifically, what comprises painting. Traditional oil paints are mixed with spray paint, acrylic, enamel, thermoplastic, American stationary and the debris of the studio: paper towels, gum wrappers and dried waste. Observation and appropriation of waste, “mixed material,” has been a key component in his practise.
“I have always used a lot of mediums and experimented with materials. I used to paint and then stopped because I felt it was limited, but a couple of years ago, I realised I could actually do what I enjoy, by using new materials on the surface of the canvas. So I’ve been taking traditional materials such as oil and acrylic and mixing them with raw materials like the thermoplastic; the combination of materials provides more opportunity and allows me to question, challenge, and bring my own definition of what sculpture and painting are today.”
He translates the material to a language of traces and marks on the surface of the canvas. A language, however, that is three dimensional, leading to a seamless change of medium from painting to sculpture. Under the influence of time, through rhythmic action, he searches for forms to directly engage the language of painting and not simply appropriate its’ vocabulary.
Jean-François expands the medium of sculpture by focusing on the use of materials and processes. For his latest exhibition he included a series of three sculptures which have been made in Le Minh’s studio and directly in situ. They reflect the child-like freedom of a self-taught artist.
He mixes materials, moves between mediums, and breaks rules and conventions. The result is an atlas with an atemporal depth where creation is wrapped in re-creation, use with re-use, and life with after-life. The collection of works explores, with fresh intensity, Jean-François Le Minh’s re-definition of what sculptures might be in our current society.
– Harry Dougall
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