David Ancelin was born in 1978 in Rennes, France. He resides and works in Paris. A graduate from Villa Arson (France) in 2005, he has exhibited at Mamco Geneva, Mac/Val Vitry s/Seine, Mamac Nice, including solo exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo and Monnaie de Paris. His work is part of the Mamco collection in Geneva as well as several private collections.
By gleaning left out objects here and there, David Ancelin undertakes an analysis of the sculptural potential of their different volumes. Shapes are selected for their immediate and direct identification and their underlying common meaning. These are then examined and manipulated. Aspects such as the technical, aesthetic, or poetic qualities within the shape allow the creation and undoing of knots of meaning. It is there that lyrical mechanisms take shape between the materials and what they suggest. Common place referents (maritime, urban, industrial) are attached to these plastic manipulations and are a pretext to stage them. The works showcase their delicate and unstable positions autonomously. Their fragility is manifest in the seemingly dangerous and rickety base where they stand between the walls of the space exhibition. Sculptures, screen printings, and paintings answer by associations of ideas, aesthetic correspondences, creating bridges between flatness and volume, uniqueness and multiplicity. The narrative fragments intercross and weave the imaginary threads of an imperceptible abstract canvas. There lies the indecisive relationship between formal interpretation and its literal translation.
Juxtapoz n°113, June 2010, San Francisco
“Smog By Night: David Ancelin Solo Exhibition” showcases two series, “Smog” and “By Night.” Comprising stainless steel prints, silkscreen prints, and small acrylic paintings, the works represent and distort Chinese landscapes. BLOUIN ARTINFO China spoke to David Ancelin about his work in China.
Why did you choose to create works in Beijing?
Creating the pieces in Beijing is a way of living in a unique context. Each work is composed of many stories, and the details of these stories are explained through the painting. I don’t speak a word of Chinese, so the exhibition “Smog By Night” stems from this lack of understanding.
What is the relationship between your paintings and China?
“By Night” began with pictures taken when I was traveling in Montreal and New York, but a lot of these paintings come from pictures that I took four years ago on my first trip to China. There are a lot of night landscapes, particularly in the streets of Beijing and the suburbs, which reflect the particular aesthetic of deserted streets, dim lights, and true darkness. I find this contrast striking.
Likewise, I’m particularly interested in working with silkscreen printing here because there’s a long history of this medium in China. However, it’s a young medium in Western culture, especially in art. I’m trying to find visual connections between these two distant worlds, in order to create an unlikely point of view, a sensation of floating.
Why do you use photographs in your paintings and prints?
I use a camera as a tool for analysis. After that, I decide if it makes more sense to paint or print it on a flat surface, or whether it should be made more concrete in installation or sculpture. The photos are just a starting point for my work, a way to bring details from the outside into my studio. I’m not what most people would call a “good photographer;” most of my photos are blurry or poorly-framed. My paintings are an exercise that helps me try to better remember a scene. I try to nail them down these glimmers of memory between the darkness and the shadows.
Why is night such an important theme in your work?
Naturally, paint pigments reflect different colors on the light spectrum. The night could be considered a simple way to think about light, but you can achieve cool or warm blacks, with a little bit of blue, red, green, or yellow. For example, there are a lot of color differences between neon light and lamp light. I’m interested in the subtleties and atmospheric effects that emerge in my paintings when you add a little bit more of one color or another.
Why have you focused on “smog?” Isn’t smog somewhat ominous?
I don’t really find it ominous, unless it is a strange atmosphere. The word “smog” itself is really important for me, because it is the collage of two different words, “smoke” and “fog,” a neologism stemming from two abstract things. My work usually centers on the bonding of two elements in order to bring out different meanings. The viewer can decide if it’s ominous or not; that’s not my place to say.
The pictures used in this series are usually taken in conventional and ideal tourist spots, which then disappear into the smog. I prefer to leave it to the viewer to create his own story. My goal is to create a picture between the abstract and the figurative.
Q&A: David Ancelin on Printing Beijing's Smog and Nights
by Li Li, Bridget Noetzel
Blouin Artinfo - Published : August 19, 2013
Smog by Night, David Ancelin’s first solo exhibition in China, is a hodgepodge. Here, silk-print figures on industrial panes of stainless steel. There, ceramic tiles glued to dynamic sculptures. Such is the condition of modernity, the works detachedly declare. And the condition of the subject who inhabits this fragmented modernity is that of the bricoleur: one who finds meaning from the mess, by assembling what he can from what is at hand.
It is here that Ancelin’s exhibition makes its most daring philosophical argument: the redundancy is its very point. All of the works, in fact, have an element of redundancy inherent in their very construction. The silk-prints of ‘Smog’ have been produced using industrial machinery, but the machinery has been used in such a way that the prints have been made by hand. The miniature domestic scenes of ‘By Night’ are hand-painted reproductions of photographs. And the ceramic tiles to make up the sculptures of water drops suspended in time in ‘Deep Blue’ mimic the pixellation of computer rendering. What Ancelin’s work suggests is that the bricoleur’s graft, in selectively reassembling elements of the world to create meaning, is, in fact, redundant – or to put it another way, the order we impose on the world is in excess to the fundamental disorder of the world, which persists irrespective of our bricolage . Smog, of course, is also the excess that is produced by the process of industrial production. Smog by Night is, for all its mess, a quite remarkable exhibition. Or, if you will permit us this excess of a sentence: out of the clutter of his creations, what Ancelin produces here is pretty neat.
Review : Smog by Night, David Ancelin's work seeks out meaning from the mess
by Simon Zhou
Time Out Beijing - Published : September 25, 2013