Philippe Decrauzat has built a body of work on processes of visual and auditory perceptions that he transposes into geometric compositions combining references to abstract art and the history of science. One such work is Stone, Notes, Tones, part of a series of seven canvases in the same format produced in 2014 for a solo exhibition at the Magasin art centre, Grenoble.
Like the other pieces presented at the exhibition, including films and stage decor, the series of paintings offers a new reading of studies by the late-nineteenth-century doctor and physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey. The tightly packed vertical parallel lines in black and white reproduce the fluctuations of a curved line drawn by a machine of Marey’s invention that captured on paper the movement of the chest during respiration.
To produce the series, Philippe Decrauzat projected Marey’s diagram at an almost horizontal acute angle onto canvases painted white and placed side by side. He then marked out a network of straight lines, obtaining extreme sharpness by carefully sticking tape on the canvas and removing it after applying the black paint. As the motif continues from one painting to the next, it almost seems to move. The optical illusion of a wave depends on how far the viewer stands from the work. From a breath to a diagram, then from a diagram to a painting, the movement of respiration crosses various systems of representation and transcends modes of perception. The process of breathing is not only felt in the body; the eye tracks its pulsing rhythm on the canvas.
‘Dossier pédagogique: Ericka Beckman, Works 1978-2013 / Philippe Decrauzat, Notes, Tones, Stone,’ Grenoble, Le Magasin, 2014, available online: http://www.ac-grenoble.fr/educationartistique.isere/spip.php?article470.
Lionel Bovier (ed.), Philippe Decrauzat, Zurich, JRP Ringier, 2007.