After a yearlong residency in Lens, hosted by the Pinault Collection, and following his participation in the exhibition “Luogo e Segni” (Site and Signs) at the Punta della Dogana, Hicham Berrada (born in 1986 in Casablanca) was invited to present a new version of his work <i>Présage</i> at the Teatrino di palazzo grassi.


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<u>Text</u> <br/> <b>Mouna Mekouar</b> <br/> <span style="display:none;">Curator and art critic </span><br/>




<span class="alinea"></span>Berrada is known for presenting the changes and metamorphoses, chemically or mechanically induced, undergone by nature: his work transports its viewers to a world that is both alive and inert, engaged in a reflection on the concepts of nature, creation, and time. Bridging the laboratory and the workshop, staging chemical experiments as performance art, the artist, through his experimental practice, creates a personal universe that plays on his codes. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>Throughout his career, Berrada’s work has unfolded in successive projects that feed off one another, leading the visitor to engage with nature, matter, and creation. <i>Présage</i> (meaning “omen”), for example, exists in three forms—the performance itself, its recording, and the aquarium. Together, they serve to advance together an aesthetic of the fragment, at the heart of the artist’s constant search for metamorphosis. “I gave the title ’Omen’ to the controlled appearance of a landscape in a slide or cylinder,” Berrada explains. “This is not an isolated, unique experiment—there is an infinite number of chemicals that I could use. I’m constantly searching for new elements, new combinations. It is a piece of nature that is part of a dreamlike temporality.” <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>To achieve this, Berrada combines liquids, crystals, and organic materials in a beaker, creating a chimeric world that is constantly evolving. These ephemeral landscapes, which mix plants and minerals, are conceived as pictorial creations. “I try to control the phenomena I mobilize, like a painter controls his pigments and brushes. My brushes and pigments would be heat, cold, magnetism, light,” he says, adding, “For me, the humanities and the sciences, like biology and physics, are not opposites. I am interested in science as well as in dance, in music, and in literature. This attitude is not new; it was already that of Renaissance artists (…). More recently, Sigmar Polke<sup>1</sup> did chemical experiments using toxic materials for his painting. I would like to position myself in this relation of continuity.” <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>The artist ceaselessly explores the reactions between different elements in new combinations. By leaving his work open to infinite possibilities, the artist multiplies the visions and interpretations of this ensemble that constitutes <i>Présage</i>. On the one hand, chemical reactions produce worlds in constant mutation that play on the real and the imaginary, but also on scale—microcosm and macrocosm? The transformations of matter into fascinating colors and shapes that Berrada activates onstage during his performances are filmed and simultaneously projected onscreen. Composer and musician Laurent Durupt accompanies Berrada throughout his process as he captures, alters, and plays sounds recorded in nature. Immersed in this experience, the viewer is invited to observe, in real time, the creation of small, unstable, fragile ecosystems. By deploying sound and visual landscapes during these performances, the metamorphosis is doubly effective, inviting each spectator to float on the surface of a dream. <br/> <br/> <br/> <div class="notes">1 — For instance, in the works exhibited as part of the exhibition “Sigmar Polke” at Palazzo Grassi in 2016.</div>
 

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