L’abre Qui Pleure, Laurent Perbos, 2009
With the installation Forest Tears Laurent Perbos invites his audience to step into a metaphoric world fabricated out of quotidian objects. The known substances are combined with known myths, are then made peculiar by an invocation of the improbable; a stack of steel blocks have been pierced by arrows, entitled Martyr Perbos reinterprets the story of Saint Sébastien. Across the gallery floor are enlarged, brightly coloured bon-bons made of fragile glass and clustered where they seem at risk of being shattered.
Leading away from the bon-bons and The Martyr are tree stumps sculpted from green and yellow hosing. These create a path toward the last standing tree that reaches to the gallery’s ceiling, and appears to be shedding tears from it’s pruned branches, pathetic fallacy realised literally and quite splendidly.
Perbos explained how a child of six, at the vernissage, had found the exhibition terribly sad; the block skewered by multiple arrows, a tree silently mourning the coppiced forest around it. Perbos expressed that he’d like to access this sensitivity in the adult spectator.
His sincere connection with this aspect was notable as he paused and indicated a tear to rolling out of the tree’s branches. This potentially overlooked detail is the reward of the observant viewer, and the crux of the exhibition’s pathos. Certainly L’abre Qui Pleure evokes a sensitivity towards the natural and the metaphoric that can be numbed by adult reasoning.
Skilled in multiple forms of sculpture Laurent Perbos uses the materials effectively so they become plausible in their new state and evoke sensations effectively. The organic suggestions remain at odds with the artificial substances used for the materials of sculpture. The tree’s tears are reabsorbed by the stumps closest to its trunk, creating a closed water-cycle, the teardrops are drunk, only to be cried out once more.
Perbos was deservedly placed along side the likes of Sylvie Fleurie, Tony Ousler and Fischli & Weiss in recent exhibition The Freak Show in Paris and Lyon. Poetry in contemporary art is often seen as taboo, but Perbos demonstrates the exact combination necessary for an artist of the next wave: an understanding of sensitivity combined with competent concepts. Articulate and committed to his work Perbos deserves increasing international interest.
Forest Tears runs until 30 May, Gallerie La BF15, 11 quai de la Pêcherie, Lyon