DUMONTEIL Shanghai is pleased to present "Tropical Insomnia", French artist Bruno GADENNE's first solo exhibition in China, featuring a series of nocturnal scenes created after a 3 months trip in Central America. The artist invites us to reconsider the relationship between man and nature in the digital age and to experience the mysterious and magical beauty of nature through his research-expedition-based work.
December 2nd, 2019. Belize Still no jaguar in sight, but I can feel I'm being watched.
Travel Diary, B.Gadenne
Marching in the footsteps of Gauguin, Delacroix, Sargent and so many others, Bruno Gadenne renews the long tradition of the travelling painter. In the winter of 2019, he retraced the itinerary of explorers Stephens and Catherwood deep into the jungle of Honduras and Guatemala, who re-discovered many lost Mayan cities and temples. Travelling very light but for a small backpack filled with gouache painting materials, a machete and a hammock, B. Gadenne collected images of the primary forest that helped him create large-scale oil paintings once back in his Parisian studio.
To track is a shamanic phenomenon: a kind of spiritual displacement into the body of the animal.
Sur la piste animale, Baptiste Morizot
As in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's movie Tropical Malady, which the title of the exhibition is directly paying homage to, we follow our protagonist, here painter Bruno Gadenne, deep into the jungle where he experiences near-mystical encounterings, the tiger of the movie replaced here by the always-out-of-sight jaguar. Traces of wild animals are directly visible as in “The path”, where the spectator is invited to follow the prints of a large jaguar, leading us ever deeper into the dark and lush vegetation.
The landscape depicted here is indeed sparsely inhabited: a couple of figures, the human shown as another animal in its natural habitat. In “The Watch”, the figure (a self portrait since the artist, travelling solo, is his own model) is looking straight at us, spying behind a floating log, watching over his territory. He seems at the same time threatening, and ready to disappear under the muddy waters. But even in the figureless landscapes, a lingering presence can be sensed, emanating from the layers of oil painting, behind the numerous brushstrokes rendering the leaves. The trees themselves become protagonists of the scenes, an ominous face-to-face in the heart of the jungle, far from any civilization but for the ruins of Mayan pyramids. The wall of trees is hiding something, at the same time inviting and menacing. ...