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Graphic potentialities: Dimitri Kosiré’s abstract art as an example

 

Can abstract art no longer be considered as «contemporary art»? Does this genre now belong to the classical category of «modern art»? Does it no longer have any immediate impact? These are delicate questions, which are put forward by artists and art critics as much as by the viewers.

One the one hand, a great many representatives of abstract art are exhibited in the major museums throughout the world, like Mondrian, Kandinsky, Robert Delaunay, as well as Sonia Delaunay, who was recently on exhibition in the Musée d’art moderne de Paris. But they are often retrospectives, which implies that this kind of creation is «already over», archived, belonging to the artistic Pantheon and to the dictionary, part of art history, and that it has already lost some of its influence and efficiency. Kandinsky, for nearly a century, represented the aim of «contemporary art»: the quest of abstract art was, according to him, a spiritual accomplishment. That spiritual quest was the aim fiercely pursued by several generations of artists, but today circumstances have changed. In a period of essentialism, of suffering and of doubting, the artists often find it hard to confidently declare that they are pursuing a spiritual quest, that they are seeking a spiritual accomplishment, by means of their art. Yesterday, post-modernism and structuralism were fashionable, today the period is that of deconstruction and of deconstructivism and, whether one is an art critic or an artist, it is very difficult to praise « the song of naïveté ». After having struck up the «song of experience», we have lost our naive approach. We find it hard to look at art, especially abstract art, with Kandinsky’s optimism of a century ago, like the people who, after having lived through the Great Depression and several economical crises, can no longer believe, thanks to a blind optimism, in the overall power of the market economy. We must acknowledge that the question of abstract art’s legitimacy has been put forward for several decades past.

 

On the other hand, unlike Fauvism or Cubism, which were all the rage and which  attracted crowds at a specific moment in time, abstract art never really left the artistic scene. Even today, there still exists a Salon devoted to abstract art: « Réalités Nouvelles » founded by Sonia Delaunay. The young abstract artists can gather together to exchange their points of view, exhibit their own works. Is abstract art dead? Not necessarily. The abstract art movement covers several generations: for a while abstract artists were center stage, then other generations succeeded them, but abstract art in itself is not dead.

 

Dimitri Kosiré belongs to the last legion of those «warriors» of abstract art. Since the start of the 21st century until today, his creation, throughout during the decade, is divided in several phases. The most characteristic works of the start of this century are concentrated during the year 2005, marked by a strong symbolism, carrying more or less decipherable symbols, and the use of the line and of the dot, in the manner of Klee. That period summons up the artist’s birth date, the year 1968; a revolutionary period when the artistic and critical milieux were fascinated by the recently appeared structuralist linguistics and semiotics,. Explaining or guiding abstract art by means of symbols was fashionable for a while, and no doubt Kosiré’s «cultural genes» carried that «legacy of a period», so much so that his explorations of abstract art started by resorting to symbols.

 

In the following years, the artist’s research took on a new direction. From 2010 onward, his works started to show the characteristics of «abstract lyricism»; cosmology replaced the earlier «symbols»; the individual, sentimental aspects are combined with universal or cosmological elements in rich constellations of dots, of lines, of surfaces, sometimes harmonious, sometimes contradictory, wherein the stars each have their own specificity, but which, all combined together, form an organic whole.

 

Simultaneously, Kosiré resorted in his creations to many non-traditional materials, such as wood or metal. He also employs mixed materials and often goes beyond the limits of what is known as « traditional painting». The works in which he uses Indian ink deserve particular attention: even though the material is Oriental, the mindset and the manner are Western. His « paintbrush technique» comes from classical abstract art, and his «splash-Ink» recalls Pollock’s style, leading to new sensations in the viewer.

 

But Kosiré does not limit himself to traditional methods. In modern and contemporary art, which are always seeking novelty, conservatism and stereotypes might signify that one is not going forward, but if, in parallel to these explorations, one is content with art for art’s sake, then one is practicing a genuine «art». A few years ago, some critics considered that Kosiré’s faithfulness to the use of traditional materials was highly appreciable, in a time when all the artists were following fashion by making use of the latest form of software, or other forms of high technology. However, the artist, in 2012, undertook a series of works including digital photography, and he obtained interesting results. That is why one must not judge an artist with regard to the age or the novelty of the medium utilized, nor have any requirements in the matter. An œuvre is a whole, and that of Kosiré proves the meaning of his work. It also points up to what extent modern art and contemporary art are unpredictable. We should perhaps follow the example of Minerva’s owl, which only flies off at sunset and so avoid committing the mistake of evaluating and anticipating, but such is the privilege and the perversity of thinkers. As for the artists and the art critics, their priority is to be in direct contact with current events. Only action can have an impact on a given field. Thus Kosiré’s work points up the rich potentialities of painting as well as those of the graphic arts

 

November 18, 2014

Lü Peng

art historian

Translated from the Chinese by  Marie Laureillard

Translated in English by Ann Cremin, 2015

 

 

 

 

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