In Antoine Duhamel’s “Loud Friction Painting” we are introduced to a disquieting and sordid cast of caricatures at the extreme margins of human comedy. In these graphic and meticulously composed paintings, Duhamel features portraits and nudes; iconic subjects throughout the history of western art. Yet Duhamel’s simplification of shapes and blunt use of highly contrasted colours challenge the usual syntax of representation. Through these painterly gestures, Duhamel liberates his subjects from the original contexts and historical references that would normally orient the viewer’s interpretation of what he or she sees.
In American Nude the shifting fields of color between a woman’s golden yellow face, puke green torso and purple genitals fragment our reading of the body and swing us a step away from the obvious. The body is not accessible in a standard way as Duhamel’s application of colour antagonizes normal perception. Her body reduced to chunks of colour, is both a casually pornographic image and a representation of the objectification inherent to desire itself. What emerges is the potential for a differentiation between the intellectual conclusions and the emotional reflections evoked by the painting.
Centerpiece in the exhibition, in Head of a Man the larger then life face of a nazi officer represents more than its historical or political symbolism. His red face resembling a thick steak, as well as his obsessive eyes, are a monument to a certain morbid virility closely associated with the very notion of power. In this way Antoine Duhamel activates the emotional charge of his subjects in order to touch on fundamental themes of human sensibility such as the need for power, guilt, and desire.
“Loud Friction Painting” has been curated by Whippersnapper Gallery and consists of 10 pieces hung between two galleries; Whippersnapper Gallery and Function 13 (156 Augusta).