Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Toulouse, FRAC Midi-Pyrénées

Renaud Jerez

From 16 february to 17 june 2018
les Abattoirs
Opening Thursday, February 15 at 18:00
Renaud Jerez, "Home", 2015, vue d’exposition, William Arnold, Brooklyn. Courtesy de l’artiste et de la Galerie Crèvecoeur, Paris.

For spring 2018, Les Abattoirs have invited Renaud Jerez to invest the main floor, including the great nave under brick arches, for which he has devised an exhibition-installation. Often classified among the so-called post-internet artists, whose works are pervaded by science fiction and manga, Renaud Jerez no longer distinguishes between historical and mainstream culture, creating paintings, videos, and sculptures.

Les Abattoirs suggested to Renaud Jerez – exhibited at the Triennial of the New Museum in New York in 2015, or last year at the ICA in Miami – that he invest the great nave for this solo exhibition, his first in a French museum. He has devised a total structure for the site, conceived as both a domestic space and an organic exhibition site that Les Abattoirs has invested. Within the architectural structure, we will find combinations of artworks created for the exhibition.

Born in 1982, Renaud Jerez is a French artist whose career has developed internationally since graduating from the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. He has been building up a body of work in recent years that deals with “technological singularity”, that is, the hypothesis whereby the invention of artificial intelligence will spark unpredictable changes in human society, changes that are represented by his robot-mummies. He also points to the existence of a robotic body, between cyborg and mutant, which integrates the prosthesis as an inseparable element of the human body. Renaud Jerez thus transports us into a world in which the biomechanics of the human body is modified by both the reality of digital technologies and by the now dehumanising, now re-humanising precariousness of the objects and materials he uses. These biomorphic patchwork skeletons are based on PVC tubes and computer cables, covered in bandages and dressed in recycled materials. He also makes use of both basic building materials (iron, plaster, cardboard, papier mâché, etc.), recycled or recyclable materials, and inexpensive, industrial, synthetic materials (clothing, umbrellas, industrial furs, etc.), the DIY and precariousness of the forms thus sabotage the fluidity beloved of contemporary civilisation.

Representative of a generation of artists who have understood that there are no longer any limits between reality and virtuality, or, if any remain, they remain to be explored, Renaud Jerez has often been compared with so-called post-internet artists and has notably participated in the Triennial of the New Museum Surround Audience organised by artist Ryan Tricartin and curator Lauren Cornell in 2015. However, for him, the internet is “a tool and not a subject”. The virtual world contains both joy and sadness, or at any rate, all of the diversity of the kinds of life found on a modern street: “The internet interests me as a dirty and dangerous public space, just like the street. Both are polluted and my culture is that of spaces saturated by advertising and graffiti hackers.”

While his sculptural characters are the most well-known and visible part of his work, the artistic work of Renaud Jerez is expressed on various media, ranging from sculpture and installation to video and painting. While his work is influenced by art history – surrealism, new objectivity, dada, or more recently, the trashy humour of Mike Kelley, etc. – the cultural backdrop of his art no longer distinguishes between historical and mainstream culture. His œuvre is characterised by cyberpunk trends, under the aegis of science fiction stories, and is pervaded with Japanese animation and manga. Based on these references, Renaud Jerez humorously suggests plastic potentialities, but also the potential dangers of a transformed age. Questioning the networks and interconnections of information highways, he also stages exclusion, both cultural and human. Taking stock of the corrosive realities of junk culture, the depths of the Dark Web, and the overconsumption that is dangerously jamming up information highways, Renaud Jerez short-circuits the dreams of progress.

For the project designed for les Abattoirs, Renaud devised an organic home in which the visitor circulates through rooms created by the artist as an environment within which old or new artworks will be integrated. Over the past two years, Renaud Jerez has been creating domestic environments based on his robotic sculptures. Both unknown yet familiar figures, mummies of the future in the past, these characters of an uncertain temporality now evolve within a habitat that is at once strange and familiar. For the exhibition devised last year for the ICA in Miami, the issue of vision and the modification of vision through screens, was extended to cabin structures with windows in transparent colours, modifying the spectator’s view of the space. The artist, also a sometime curator, has devised for an exhibition for Les Abattoirs that is a standalone body of work. More recently, Renaud Jerez has returned to painting, a practice that he had abandoned and several examples of which are present in the exhibition, alongside new animated creations. The furniture in the museum space on this floor was also designed by the artist.