Les gallons-panoramas presents a series of landscapes created by the flattening of open metal paint cans. These 125 flattened paint cans of standardized formats (gallon, quarter and pint) are arranged on the gallery walls in a manner similar to graphic color charts. The metallic panels serve as the background substrate for the colorful material manifestations of the paint residue. On some panels the paint residue from the flattened cans covers the metal surfaces entirely, while on other panels, lines of sedimentation (occurring from the separation of pigment from the liquid base), peelings, or corrosion from the metal cans are left visible. Each of the 125 unique pieces tells a different story of the paint as material; whether stirred up by various events or solidified during periods of rest.
Beyond engaging a discourse on the actual material, the exhibition also provides many clues to the creative process of Pépite & Josèphe, which unfolds over three stages: expedition, recycling and unveiling.
Expedition is an essential concept in the artists’ approach: as a life experience, these daily walks are deliberately off the beaten track. The slow pace is productive as it provides for a heightened observation of the urban environments through which the artists move. This is how the duo collects gallons, quarts and pints of paint that they find on sidewalks or in eco-centers and, in doing so, they divert and transform this waste to reveal the singular beauty of these objects. During these excursions, the artists also collect different kinds of discarded items, which they later used to identify each paint can. The formal associations between the waste and the colored material make it possible to establish a poetic inventory of the artists’ movements. These objects are paired in Recueil de paysages, a landscape catalogue that is exhibited in the centre of the gallery.
Nothing is squandered: each element, be it the metal paint container or its content, is recycled and given a new life. The recuperated circular lids show astonishing trailings, rhizomes and frost effects. When the jars are emptied, their liquid contents are collected, dried and are layered on top of each other to obtain stratifications of three, four and six-inch wide core samples, which are the diameter of the pint, quart, and gallon paint containers. This stack of colored material thus constitutes a chronological archive of these recycling activities. This cyclicality is reinforced by the exhibition pathway, which is designed as a chromatic loop; the darker shades of paint give way to brighter colors and then gradually lighten to white, before returning to the dusky tones.
In the third phase of Pépite & Josèphe’s process, the act of unveiling shifts perspective. By unwinding the cylindrical metal paint cans, a secret, which up until then was hidden, is revealed. Thus, unique and complex images stoke the viewer’s imagination. The artists take this investigation even further by digitizing and printing large images of the newly created landscapes on paper. This second flattening creates a further distancing from the original objects. Details appear in the images that invite new perceptions. Imaginary forms, compositional effects (however accidental), and odd transparencies all become visible. This final manipulation invokes a state of contemplation, often sought after by landscape painters.
By mounting the enlarged print on a metal support the artists evoke the original relation between the content and its container. Through these printed works, Pépite & Josèphe adopt a metonymic approach in which an inversion takes place between container and content. Each can of paint becomes a matrix which can then be used to create a print. The scale of the latter is adapted to the wall that is intended to host it. The printed artwork, which features a container of covering material, itself acts as covering material that resurfaces the chosen wall. With this contraction of the container and its content, Pépite & Josèphe reframe our viewpoint; transforming scrap material into an intangible icon.
Text by Gauthier Melin
Expedition is an artistic approach led by Vincent Biron-Chalifour and Josèphe Landreville (Pépite & Josèphe). Vincent Biron-Chalifour (born 1994, Montreal) obtained his BFA in photography from Concordia University. Josèphe Landreville (born 1993, Montreal) is currently completing a master’s degree at the University of Quebec at Montreal in visual and media arts. Since 2016, the duo artists have lived and worked together between Montreal and Sutton. Their installation assemblies have been presented in exhibitions in Montreal, notably at the FOFA Gallery, the Cercle Carré space and the Arprim center. More information: expedition-phases.com