Gregory Forstner at FRAC Occitanie Montpellier - Zink Waldkirchen

Gregory Forstner at FRAC Occitanie Montpellier

Gregory Forstner has a busy 2021! You can take a look at our recent visit to his studio with Francine Kreiss here, where we took some very cool diver style photos of him at work! He has spent the whole of last year preparing for two major solo exhibitions this summer. One of them just opened at FRAC Occitanie Montpellier, titled ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘. Check out the link here for the full list of works.

The exhibition features new works created in 2020. As we all grappled with the restrictions and isolation last year, Gregory was no different. The situation pushed him to reassess his artistic approach, technique, and subject matter.

Perhaps out of spite and in order to play with this unprecedented situation – because even when idle you have to have fun and enjoy, even if it means enjoying alone – I found myself rebalancing my method of approaching painting by constraints of changing tools, thus provoking new sensations.“

The usual figures featured in his paintings act as a mirror for humanity and society. But in the context of last year, they seemed to no longer fit his vision amidst the period of „idleness“.

„As if, deprived of a social context and a possible confrontation with the viewer, the very desire for image and figure, for a mirror, had also naturally dissipated. The consequence of this explosion was to refocus my desire in the gesture – and the gesture in my desire.“

This process of creating art returned to a meditative exploration of painting and drawing, rather than a study of flowers, per se. The flowers in these works are merely a construct of images, memories, and impressions instead of from a live bouquet. The point is not the flowers, and all its liveliness, colors, and short-lived beauty. The point is the expression of all these qualities of flowers through a brush stroke or a charcoal smudge. Although the idea of „still life of flowers“ is one of the most elementary practices of art, they can be incredibly complex and nuanced. They take on countless compositions, media, atmospheres, styles throughout history and across different artists. School children do it and they’re each different from one another, and the greatest artists do the same. For Gregory the drawings and paintings of these flowers in vases are an exploration in itself.

„I am not painting a flower or the singular transparency of a vase and its water, but the possibility of all flowers and all transparencies. Since the painting reduces the set of possibilities in a singular object, I start another painting with what I have left of the unexploited possibilities of desire.“

Installation View at FRAC Occitanie Montpellier

The paintings are mostly massive, creating a rather imposing experience. These larger than life flower paintings tower over the visitors. When looked at up close, it is unclear what you’re looking at. In a somewhat cliched manner, it struck me as a metaphor for our experience on earth. Up close in the details, there is chaos and unintelligible strokes, but the big picture is sublime as it all comes together to make sense.

Gregory Forstner at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View
Gregory Forstner at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View

Opening Reception

Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem
Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem
Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem

Also in the show are these charcoal drawings. They are at once delicate and coarsely rendered through what appears like very fast and expressive strokes. The black and white drawings stand as a stark contrast to the brightly colored paintings that Gregory is known for. Standing alone against the white paper, they seem morose and kind of lonely, yet still blooming tall and beautifully. These almost look like x-ray images, capturing just the silhouette. But even though the color and context are stripped away, the flowers‘ grace and light still show through. In fact, these smaller, more intimate drawings allow such a quiet, subtle energy through that it is quite touching to me.

Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation View
Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem
Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Opening Event
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem

Behind The Scenes

Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation Process Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation Process
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem
Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation Process Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation Process
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem
Gregory Forstner 'Des fleurs pour les audacieux' 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation Process Gregory Forstner ‚Des fleurs pour les audacieux‘ 2021 at FRAC, Montpellier Installation Process
Image courtesy Laurent Léandre Vilarem

Check out the link here for the full list of works.

About The Artist

Gregory Forstner was born in 1975 in Cameroon, now lives and works in Montpellier, France. The artist received a degree from the Academy of Applied Arts Vienna in 1994, followed by some years with École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts at Villa Arson, Nice, and Paris. In 2008, Forstner was the recipient of a scholarship from the French Ministry of Culture for a one-year residency in New York with Triangle Arts association, which resulted in a 10 year stay in the city until his relocation back to France. A large retrospective of his works was presented in Fondation Fernet-Branca, Basel in 2018. The artist is known for his paintings and drawings that capture human nature through expressive brush strokes, bold colors, and his signature anthropomorphised dog characters.

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