Exhibition “Echoing Scars” by French artist Thierry Bernard-Gotteland in Saigon

Last update: 18:58 | 12/05/2017

VietNamNet Bridge - “Echoing Scars”, a solo exhibition by French mixed-media artist Thierry Bernard-Gotteland will take place at Galerie Quynh, 151/3 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, HCM City from May 12 through June 2.


With “Echoing Scars”, Bernard-Gotteland, known for visceral, defiant works that use language and lore from both popular culture and sub-cultures (most notably cinema and extreme metal) to deliberate on the metaphysical, takes as a starting point the examination of the dichotomy between the universal and the individual, between rules of nature and man’s free will. 

At first glance, the site-specific exhibition seems to be pervaded by an absolution. The gallery space is divided into two symmetrical halves bathed in light and darkness; artwork arrangements are governed by rigorous geometrical rules. 

The liminal centre of the exhibition, a suspended painting depicting an image from a Nike TV ad – that of an athlete successfully executing one of the most difficult gymnastic moves, the phrase ‘I Can Master Pain’ proudly running across the screen – is deliberately left unfinished, its skeletal sketches harkening back to humble origins, rather than glorious, technicolour-broadcast realisations, seemingly speaking of the futility of such ideological dreams.

The common thread running through all the works is a sense of self-reflection, of past incarnations being unearthed, examined. While the ominous neon lighting reveals old layers of the gallery walls – repainted after each exhibition – a curtain sewn with thirteen used, locally-donated metal T-shirts (the Fibonacci sequence comes into play here, its traces to be found elsewhere in the show) forms an ode to both collective memories of a whole generation of Vietnamese youth and encompassing personal stories. 

Soundtracked by an audio collage meticulously put together with screams and screeches from hundreds of metal songs, the life of a metalhead is reconstructed in front of us. 

As Bernard-Gotteland’s penchant for conceptual practices is layered with newfound poignancy, the grandiose mythologies of his previous exhibition at the gallery, “A Physical Obedience of a Certain Geometry” [Nihil Sublime] (2011), are here distilled into individual chapters. Incomplete as they are, bound not to last, do these chapters – myths in the making – give meaning to a life?

Colliding the past with the present, “Echoing Scars” serves as a fitting end to one chapter while hinting at prospects of all tomorrows.

Thierry Bernard-Gotteland was born in 1974 in Chambéry, France. He received his MFA from the School of Fine Art in Grenoble and a Post-Diploma at Le Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Art in Tourcoing where he worked with acclaimed artist Antoni Muntadas. 

Bernard-Gotteland has exhibited in North America, Europe and Asia. Selected past exhibitions include Promenade Urbaine, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Invisible City Festival, Montreal, Canada; Fete dela WSK!, Kanto Art Gallery and Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines; Technophobe, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City; To Ho Chi Minh City with Love: A Social Sculpture – a project by Phong Bui, San Art, Ho Chi Minh City; and performed sound pieces for The Onion Cellar and San Art (at Darts Club, Ho Chi Minh City), and at The Cage, Labo Wonderful, Ho Chi Minh City, amongst others. 

The artist is also a lecturer in the design department at RMIT University in Ho Chi Minh City and fronts sound projects such as Moeth (drone doom) and Atavism (glitch). He lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.


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