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A reminder for the future – Camille Blatrix at the CAC – Synagogue

It took us about five hours between trains, starting in Brussels, where I was located, to CAC – Synagogue, a small village in Eastern France. This effort was justified in part by the curiosity to see for the first time in person the work of one of the artists who has been causing me the greatest interest lately. He is Camille Blatrix, a French artist who, in recent years, has had a meteoric rise, with many important and surprising exhibitions. Weather Stork Point is proof of this, having travelled from the Kunsthalle Basel to the old synagogue in Delme.

That day, the weather was unpleasant, it was raining heavily and the cold was intense. But what about the temperature inside the museum, which was like a freezer? Between chills and some tiredness, appealing shapes and colours were imposed, coming from a kind of American saloon lost in a French village. Some exhibitions are like this, where time, context and travel seem indispensable! And I can already anticipate the conclusion. My expectations were high, but what I saw was even better. Weather Stork Point was the best exhibition I visited in 2021.

The look of that saloon, or rather one of those bars that are also an indoor playroom, echoed throughout the ground floor installation. A large wooden construction sealed a vast part of the space, whose interior was only visible through a window in which we read the word veritas in the glass reflection. In a nod to still life, Blatrix created an environment that can be perceived but remains inaccessible. The only presence was a mouse’s shadow, strolling under the light of a sort of dancing candle, to the muffled chords of a song I thought I recognised. Outdoors, on the side, the Starbucks logo in the shape of a giant coin, being pushed into the slot, activated the internal life of that giant bar/jukebox.

Weather Stork Point is a lesson in curation. The lower floor was filled with important decisions, able to harmonise space and works, combining architecture under the boundaries of objects. Perhaps the clearest example is the archway or altar that seemed important to the wooden piece at its centre. Together with an orange stripe running across its interior that was eventually patched with bandages, perhaps to diminish the cracks opened up by the years.

Upstairs, the route is divided into two wings that flank the central nave and the corridor that connects them. On the floor, we saw a pinball machine sculpture, displaying the elegance and flexibility with which the artist uses different materials. Between the mastery of the carpentry work, the 3D printed resins, to the singular use of the painted image, we realised that this was no mere show-off of tricks and virtuosity, but rather the exceptional materialisation of forms inspired by the design and ways of making domestic objects, particularly household appliances.

Weather Stork Point made me repeatedly think of the aesthetics of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, influenced probably by the journey to this icy saloon, where I was greeted by unexpected characters who led me to believe something was about to happen. Ah, yes, the song! It was the first chords of Stand by me!

The exhibition can be visited until January 30, 2022.

Francisco Correia (b. 1996) lives and works in Lisbon. He studied Painting at Faculdade de Belas-Artes at Universidade de Lisboa and finished the post-graduation on Art Curatorship at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas at Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has been writing for and about exhibitions, while simultaneously developing his artistic project.

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