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There is some wisdom in recognizing similarities where they occur. And–at risk of sounding like a bad pub joke–in his latest show at The Address gallery in Brescia, Italy, Édouard Nardon is asking about the layline between a prison cell and the artist’s studio. This, and other environments. Consider places which may be seen to depend upon a sense of the insular and the insulated: childhood, educational institutions (secondary school, academia), the military, politics, Saint Barthes, old age (sort of), small towns and alchemy. They are worlds of internal logic, and sometimes, but not always, self-correcting economies.
In “Blue Pruno Blue” (on view through November 3), Nardon takes what’s known as a “prison workout” into example. Viewed one way, this is an expenditure of energy within a closed system over a particular temporal period, useful mainly within incarcerated boundaries. It functions as a result of its own laws, systems and hierarchies and in this, draws on limited materials at hand. Prison systems can be constructive or entropic and they frequently involve power. There’s nothing inherently unique about a prison workout and it’s said that six exercises can generate between fifty to one-hundred variations. This kind of repetition is a function of most generic bodyweight training, as a set of physical exercises marked by, in this instance, a particularly unfortunate common circumstance.
Knowledge, too, can be discreet to one situation, set or arrangement. Once something is learned it’s impossible for it to be unlearned. You can forget something but you can’t erase it. Like doing the splits, the adding of layers in painting can also subtract, divesting knowledge. Unstretched, raw canvas, unable to “take” erasure, facilitates Nardon’s compounding process. The application and orientation of visual materials might be seen as an exercise in control, itself a loose variety of power. Nothing can be undone, but instead cancelled or covered with the addition of cumulative elements: paint, plaster, cement, clay, glycerine soap base, soap bars, hiking ropes, industrial found objects.
“Blue Pruno Blue” can’t exist, or it can only exist in the mind, like a mood.