Artist Benoit Lemercier applies superstring theory to his new show at Paris’ Galerie RX
When, at the age of 16, Benoit Lemercier reproduced the Periodic Table in ink on paper, his parents didn’t pack him off to MIT. Instead, they bought him art supplies.
That’s not to say Lemercier wouldn’t have achieved great things as a budding physicist. He exhibits a deep inquisitiveness of physical theory. Yet he chooses to express this interest in the atelier, not the lab. His interpretation of complex scientific hypotheses manifests as profoundly physical art: a paradigm of left brain/right brain synergy.
This week Lemercier will show the latest in his series of dynamic, multifaceted steel sculptures at Galerie RX, in Paris’ 8th arrondissement. His sui generis ‘Hypercube’ is a two-dimensional representation of a fourth-dimensional phenomenon, providing a three-dimensional trompe l’oeil. Mounted flush with the white gallery wall, it illustrates the eponymous hypercube theory, a cube analogue in four-dimensional Euclidean space. He calls this experimental genre ‘mathematism’, a club in which he is the only member.
Lemercier spent his youth modelling solar systems and electronic gadgetry before arriving at his current, more conceptual phase. More than a decade ago he began fashioning steel cubes, cube fragments and cubes-in-cubes, which he painted an ominous matt black. That led to larger 3D monuments he calls ‘spacesculptures’, anamorphic geometries that look fractured from all viewpoints except one, where all the splinters come together in a streamlined graphic.
In ’Hypercubes’, Lemercier plays with scale dramatically. But while the cubes portray an infinite concept in a more approachable form, his ’Superstrings’ render an infinitesimal concept in bold, life-sized gestures. Here, the artist toys with the scientific theory of the same name, which scientists give to the swirling models of particulate matter that resemble the performance ribbons of rhythm gymnasts and make the study of atomic structures more logical to the eye.
Lemercier’s Superstrings are medleys of white steel ribbon frozen in mid-air in their undulating form, casting bold shadows across the floor. The contrast between these organic white forms and the rigid black Hypercube blocks across the gallery floor is severe and breathtaking – and fascinating for both left- and right-brain types.