Megathesis Des Menschen-fressendes Ungeheuer
By Lucien Murat & Charles Torris
Opening: March 6, 2020
Duration: March 7 to 28, 2020
Their faces, grimacing with grief, empty their tanks of elegiac laments,
Weep for their beloved heavens, from which they were unfairly parted.
Why do airplanes always end up crashing?
Hanging on the wall of an elderly lady’s living room are canvases, heavily framed in wood, featuring haystacks, cute kittens, an Eiffel tower, a majestic swan, Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Made by hand, these are the paintings and tapestries accessible to the working classes, a connection to images produced item-by-item. For several years now, Lucien Murat has created new work by assembling canvases. Aware of the histories of arts and crafts, the artist cross-breeds techniques to cancel the persistent dichotomies between high and low, the beautiful and the popular, between art and handicraft. Murat abandons a normalising hierarchy, preferring unexpected and delightfully absurd amalgamations. He then borrows from subcultures (video games, comics, canvas, science fiction) to generate alliances among painting, cinema, sculpture, and tapestry. The commingling of techniques and references creates chaos, violence, explosion, vertigo, resistance.
Today, Murat’s work is taking on a new dimension. His hybrid paintings present a posthuman world in which cyborgs have taken over. The light on earth is blinding. Among tyres and scrap metal, smells of oil, burnt asphalt, toxic gases, metal, and hydrocarbons can be discerned in the toxic air, the heat and humidity. Time, as we have created it, is literally suspended. Black strips frame the paintings/tapestries at their top and bottom edges. Borrowed from the cinema, they visually articulate a continuity among them, like stills from a movie shoot. Like a film in which each scene is stopped, the artist captures every point of view on the same situation. He focuses on the gazes, movements, and actions of his characters. As the works unfold, a story develops, a mythological scenario whose characters, sets, scenes, and costumes were custom-made by the artist. Murat strives to represent the digital world in its sublime dimension (in the sense of what exceeds us), its extreme violence, and its confusion. A world in constant motion, composed of information, codes, images, flux. A world of pixels that we find on canvas, on printed textiles, reactive to light sources, the manufacture of glitches, and the addition of complex patterns.
From these varied materials and iconographies, Murat elaborates on the hypothetical genesis of a digital world: winged skulls emerge from an erotic, pulsating landscape, at the tips of fluorescent green flashes in the sky. They explode on the ground, on the carcasses of cars, on piles of tyres, on the “vestiges of a dead time” from which the last human silently contemplates the advent of a new world. Vina, the Mother Genetrix, makes her appearance. Her anthropomorphic body is made of flesh, steel, and anger. Tahamaker, the final winged skull, bursts in. He rapes Vina who, a few months later, gives birth to three sons who would become one: Megathesis. The hero has three arms, four legs, and a lacerated head. “He refuses any identity.” Megathesis is a being of pain, shame, and power. By vomiting all the bile from his body, he generates five worlds, five abominations linked to each of the five senses: Haptomaisaker (touch), Anhormakers (sight), Akoetors (hearing), Téhamaker (taste), and Osmekor (smell). From work to work, we accompany Megathesis on his encounter with the five worlds populated by atrocious, strident creatures and their weapons. Eclipsing every norm, their bodies are excessively muscular, deliberately genderless, outrageously augmented or mutilated. Part-human, part-cyborg, these characters write the plot of an epic, brutal, extreme fiction.
Discussing the role of artists, Jacques Rancière wrote: “Fiction is not about creating an imaginary world, in opposition to the real world. It is the work of dissent, that alters the modes of sensitive presentation and the forms of enunciation by changing frameworks, scales or rhythms, by building new relationships between appearance and reality, the singular and the common, the visible and its meaning. This work changes the coordinates of the representable; it changes our perception of sensorial events, our way of relating to them as subjects, the way our world is populated by events and figures.”1
By proposing a convulsive and spectacular depiction of the digital world, Murat presents a reality in which all parameters are amplified. At the heart of this mythological fiction are the uneasiness, violence, trauma, hatred, and conflicts that we are experiencing now or that we foresee in the more or less near future. On this posthuman earth, the lack of oxygen has led to the disappearance of the living. Only robots remain. Blind and passionate, they replay the same dramas, the same battles, and the same mistakes.
1. Jacques Rancière, Le spectateur émancipé, Paris, La Fabrique, 2008, p.
Text by Julie Crenn