Président Vertut

by Etienne Gatti, catalogue of the 58th Salon de Montrouge

On 11 July 2011, on the Mont-Blanc Bridge in Geneva, a succession of flags CHOOSE ME presents man of providence. This exceptional leader is no other than the artist-businessman-politician President Vertut who, like any artist, erects himself as a program and is obviously not a good guy... Weak consensus and celebrity are foundations of Lethargy / Terror of the political regime of the extreme milieu. In this postmodern fascism, the writings of Greenberg call artists to protect their works from aesthetic degradation, from the political and moral debasement and from mass capitalism, are no longer valid.

The Grey Matters story borrows as much from artistic re-enactment as from uchronia but in a specific narrative structure. Indeed, all narration causes the presence of characters seized in a dramatized situation in a specific time and place. Above all it induces a narrative body that organises the point of view. President Vertut – “actorialized narrator”(1) – is the narrative body that reigns as master over this universe, but it finds itself being the product of a superior narrative body : Matthieu. Thus a complex narrative network is created where reality, fiction and different plot levels collide. The Global Average Grey, a character in its own right, is both a real fiction and a real colour, combination of white, black, yellow and red ; he moreover uses this paradox because he hides within himself the elements needed for rebellion against the system of which he is both the fruit and the perfect model. The GAG, an intradiegetic colour and a disruptive element for the story, escapes from the narration to contaminate the real. Reciprocally, Matthieu’s works prove to be characters of this level of narrative. Untitled (I have worked in a champagne bar) adds to its autobiographical content a supplementary semantic film and assumes the role of “full length” sculpture of a grotesque totalitarian regime. The ominous rectangle of concrete that makes up the work creates connections with Donald Judd and Robert Morris. Between tribute, appropriation and cultural assimilation, the icons of minimal art are here the characters and stylistic effects of a new artistic story that is being constantly reinvented. Like in a game of childish semiotic construction where the elements are interlocking, Matthieu Vertut generates an artistic language of which he is the sole grammarian.

Thanks to Barthes, we know that the author is dead and that he “can only imitate a gesture that is always prior, never original.”(2) However, in this narrative system, the author is made into a star, unless of course President Vertut finishes indeed by dying or disappearing in strange circumstances...

(1) Thierry Groensteen, Système de la bande dessinée, 2011.
(2) Roland Barthes, La mort de l’auteur, dans Le bruissement de la langue.
Essais critiques IV, 1984