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Olivier Kosta-Théfaine

Exhibition from October 24th to November 25th 2006

Opening Saturday October 21st  17:00 - 21:00
Exhibition from October 24th to November 25 th 2006
Tuesday-Saturday  11:00 - 19:00

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The city and particularly the suburb he has grown up in, are at the centre of Olivier Kosta-Théfaine’s thoughts. Expert on the urban world, the artist has been playing from the late 90’s in diverting the codes of the contemporary world, its impulses and customs, its delights and disillusions. With both humour and poetry, he revisits the aesthetic and the clichés of the suburb without any kindness to it. Whatever the medium, Olivier Kosta-Théfaine dwells upon the spirit of the housing estates and capture from it the bright side of things so that the spectators have a new look on it.

In France, we could spot his work at the Laiterie in Strasbourg (1996), or at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Reuil-Malmaison (1999). In Europe, his artworks are also presented at Laura Pecci Gallery in Milan (2003), or during the exhibition Unicura2 in Amsterdam (2002).

Invited at ADDICT Galerie to present his first personal exhibition, Olivier Kosta-Théfaine drives us in the middle of the housing estates and frees them from negative aspects and other pejorative connotations. “Les Marronniers”, “Les Epinettes”, “Les Buis”, “Les Trèfles” or “La Vigne Blanche”, we could think of a pastoral walk in the fields but the names given impulsively to the estates that have germinated here and there in the suburbs, spread in a very special herbarium in the work of the artist. This work is actually made from a list by the Home Office (Ministère de l’Intérieur in France) that identifies the “172 most violent housing estates in France”. All these names are reproduced on the ceiling of the gallery with a lighter, and get both credibility and grandeur thanks to this reference as an act of vandalism popular in the housing estates. “Just like the graffiti drawn by those who take over the halls”, the artist added.

On the pattern of the mouldings that adorn the wealthy ceilings, roses are drawn with the flame of a lighter. Molotov cocktails with acid pop colours are lining up on the floor. Entitled “Saturday Night Fever”, this installation composed of bottles painted with festive colours is a direct reference to the popular riots that happened in October 2005. Those were “phenomenal and insane actions which were not politicized, even if they were the consequences of tragic short news item”. Always between attraction and repulsion, the artist claims again for his “native concrete suburb”. The installation entitled “Supporters” is nothing that a reference to the dormitory suburb of his childhood. With their flower names, the housing estates of Sartrouville display with panache the city’s colours and arms within a series of scarves belonging to football supporters. And when it’s all about heaven in the suburb, the artist uses neon as an allusion to the shopping centre. This small Nirvana appears as a hypnotic and attractive rainbow that could have lost its colours.

Between pop, cheap and chic, Olivier Kosta-Théfaine diverts this subculture from the suburb and restores its reputation.

Anaïd Demir

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