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First large-scale monographic show of Florian and Michael Quistrebert opens at Palais de Tokyo
Florian & Michael Quistrebert, Overlight S2E4, 2015. Carpaint, LEDs, batteries and modeling paste on burlap canvas mounted on wood, 140 x 100 cm. Courtesy galerie Crèvecoeur.

PARIS.- Palais de Tokyo is presenting the first large-scale monographic show of Florian and Michael Quistrebert (born in Nantes in 1982 and 1976, live in Paris and Amsterdam). This duo of brothers, nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2014, is producing a set of new works for this occasion. Mingling colours, light, mass and illusions, the Quistreberts play with visitors’ minds and visions, drawing perceptions toward other dimensions.

Invited to occupy a space measuring 1000 sq.m in Palais de Tokyo, they are putting on an eclectic piece of optical theatre in which lights, videos and paintings lead the visitors, all while experiencing erratic disturbances by the shine and internal motions of various objects.

In their pieces, they summon the ghosts of Malevich, de Staël, Tàpies and Picasso, amongst others, while going back over the main themes of modern art, using contemporary, experimental techniques, in association with their particularly personal approach to materials. Their paintings, like their videos, explore the effects of light and shade which are both seductive, yet at times, hypnotising and repulsive.

The paradoxical works of Florian and Michael Quistrebert evoke, via painting, the often elusive quality of an otherwise traditional platform. For several years now, they have explored angles of perception by approaching it in its various aspects: intellectual, optical, symbolic, or else occult. Born from their collaboration that began in 2007, their paintings are often cluttered with matter, which are sometimes unassuming or diluted. They are never what they show or, rather, never establish just where their subjects are. "We wanted to make painting that talks about itself, rather than painting ‘alongside’ painting." 2

When they adopted this posture in 2009, during a residency in New York, the Quistrebert brothers radically shook their existing practices by responding and joining, in their own way, the discourse belonging to a part of early 20th century modernity linked to occultism and mysticism. "All of the occult side was revealed to us during our stay in New York. We were trying to base ourselves on modernism, but a modernism which would be inhabited, or haunted." 3

The fifty-odd painted pieces produced for the exhibition, pivot and turn around themselves, as though moving under their own impulse. Working on large formats, mostly constructed from a burlap base, their iridescently coloured surfaces were worked over with a melange of modelling clay, lacquer paint for cars, and sometimes decked with tiny coloured LEDs. The paintings both allure and confound, thanks to their shiny sparkling finishes, the way they reflect their surroundings and their slow, mechanical rotation. Likely to tip the spectator’s sensory markers and balance, the presentation concludes with an immense, confrontational, trance-inducing video piece placed at the end of the gallery.

"Sprays of vaporous paint, bleach, beer, modelling clay, burlap, coloured LEDs, lacquer paint for cars: since 2009, Florian and Michael Quistrebert have been exploiting voluntarily impoverished tools so as to update, transgress or pervert extracts from artistic history." 4

"There’s something like a perverse technology in these iridescent decompositions. Unless they are quite simply lunar landscapes, samples of extra-terrestrial crusts, the surfaces of UFOs still sending into space the final weak signals of their incomprehensible intergalactic messages." 5

"We want to push painting towards a state of crisis. […] It is all about saturation and excess, or gigantism, in order to show the opposite, something more subtle and invisible. It both is and isn’t painting. Maybe it’s more like hyperpainting, because we’re trying to saturate its basics, in other words to force ideas of light, matter, format, movement and perception to spill over." 1

1 Artists’ statement quoted from their interview Mara Hoberman in their monograph published by the Palais de Tokyo, February 2016

2, 3 Statements by the artists quoted in an interview with Julien Bécourt, Floran et Michael Quistrebert. La clairvoyance de l’ombre, published online:

4 Statement by Khairuddin Hori and Hugo Vitrani, curators of the exhibition.

5 Jean-Max Colard, "Mercure au Chrome", in Les Inrockuptibles, 8 July 2015, n° 1023, p. 97.

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