Earlier this evening I went to the opening of the new exhibition at the CAC, a solo retrospective of the work of Christian Jaccard. Although I think I recollect seeing some of his (evidently) signature 'burnt' work, I confess I was not familiar with his name. Consequently my impression that he is perhaps better known in his native France may be incorrect.
His principal technique seems to involve the application of a highly flammable gel to a variety of surfaces (including directly onto the gallery wall) and setting it alight, encouraging the burn marks and soot to leave a trace. This idea is exciting in many ways, and from the subtleties within the marks themselves to the wider concepts incorporating time, destruction - well, any number of things - there is plenty of scope for reflection and exploration.
There were a few surprises, and if I'm totally honest, more than I expected. If this sounds negative, it is probably because I expected to see nothing much more than a repetition of the same thing. Actually, that is mostly what we got. Some of the rooms showed works which put a full stop to the potential of the idea. Some of the rooms showed how much potential there might be.
I am interested in the burnt found paintings. These are anonymous works by (apparently) anonymous artists across a few periods, obscured to a greater or lesser extent by blackened paint and the scars of burning wicks. Other works which caught my attention were those that used alternative materials - rusted steel sheet, for example, and what appeared to be a table top. The hanging of one of the works appealed to me too: a diamond shape (well, a square tilted 45 degrees) of rusted metal with a burnt-gel motif, hung with the lowermost corner a good 2 metres above the floor.
There was sculptural work made from knotted rope, sometimes thickly painted with acrylic. The red ones somehow inevitably brought Anish Kapoor to mind (I didn't note the dates to compare) which is a shame, because they are worthy in their own right. Other black totemic rope pieces were intriguing and will get a second look.
The artist made an onsite 'intervention'. It is difficult to decide who has the most balls - the artist, or the gallery. Setting fire to an 11thC abbey takes some guts. In another setting it may have worked better than here. To begin with I was impressed, but when I went through my photographs I suddenly thought it looked a little like wallpaper.
I will be going back for a second look when it is a little quieter, and hopefully will learn a little more about the man and his work.
M. Jaccard giving his speech. I wondered where everybody had gone - I just caught the end!