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Radiant as the End of the World
“Anthropocene” is the proposed name for a geologic epoch in which humans have become the major force determining the continuing livability of the Earth. Living arrangements that took millions of years to put into place are being undone in the blink of an eye.
The massive increase in carbon dioxide, methane or nitrate emissions into the atmosphere from industrialized agriculture, petroleum-driven production and globalized transportation networks has outpaced all rhythms of life. Yet this whirlwind is best recognized through immersion in various small and situated rhythms. Big stories take their form from seemingly minor contingencies and asymmetrical encounters in its moments of uncertainty.
Clément Bedel through his art reminds us that we live in an impossible present – a time of rupture, a world haunted with the threat of extinction. His paintings offer vibrant scenes of more-than-human attempts to stay alive. Motions that he is depicting are whispers of the many pasts and yet-to-comes that surround us. Considered through his canvases – the world has ended many times before.
Bedel’s paintings approach this problem by offering visual attention to overlaid arrangements of nature’s resilience. His practice stands up to the constant barrage of messages asking us to forget – that is, to allow a few private owners and public officials with their eyes focused on short term gains to pretend that environmental devastation does not exist. These canvases are also preyed upon by radiant, striking, sharp strokes of oil paint that travel in depicted water and soil; polluting the air; getting inside the plants and trees with dazzling, intense
colors and mutation of contort formations. We cannot see it but we learn to find its traces. It disturbs us in its indeterminacy; this is a quality of ghosts.
Many species stronger than time – potentially immortal filamentous fungi, photosynthetic algae or cyanobacteria – spread and meet on the gravestones of brutalistic man made cement vestiges.
The ghosts of multi metabolic landscapes unsettle our conventional sense of time, where we measure and manage one thing leading to another. What Bedel presents are examples of what Timothy Morton calls “hyperobjects” – entities of such vast temporal and spatial dimensions that they defeat traditional ideas about what nature and time should be. When we notice their tempo, rather than impose ours, they open us to the possibility of a different aspect of livability.
This series of paintings question the logical foundation of the ecological crisis, which is suffused with the melancholy and negativity of coexistence, and is offering the evolvement into something playful, anarchic, and unpretentiously witty.
His oeuvre is a skilled fusion of phenomenology of Aposematism and biology of Batesian mimicry, fueled by ambition to reestablish our ties to nonhuman beings and to help us rediscover the hope and joy that can brighten the dark, bizarre loop we traverse.
Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steeling ourselves against such modulation, Clément Bedel invites us to feel, map, assess and grasp from the swirling pathways around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a frank, luminous set of dispatches from future systems and fractured pasts, based equally on art, science and science fiction, an incantation to transform what ultimately transforms us.
Grandiose guilt will not do it, we need to learn by noticing what we were blind to.
Clément Bedel (b.1993) is a visual artist based in Mulhouse, France.
After completing his MA studies at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art de Nancy in 2017, he continued on at the Fakultet Likovnih Umetnosti, living and working in Belgrade from 2016 to 2020.
Growing up in Les Vosges formed in him a fundamental sense of nature that resonates with German Romanticism and the idea of Weltschmerz. While residing in Serbia he also developed a strong attachment to the aesthetic and essence of Brutalist architecture.
He almost exclusively practices painting, assembling hybrid elements in an attempt to touch that timeless moment of calmness, plenitude and silence right after the end, and from there on, a future not so lost, but rather born anew with the presence of organic forms derived from nature.
Clément Bedel participated in many group shows, mostly in France, Germany and Serbia, as well as artist residencies in Leipzig (2019) and Istanbul (2020). He most notably had solo exhibitions in KC Grad, Belgrade (2019), Biennale Jeune Création, Mulhouse (2019) and U10 ArtSpace,
In 2022 he exhibited at the Centre Culturel de Serbie in Paris, Art Karlsruhe Fair, Istanbul Contemporary Fair as well as his first gallery showing, Radiant as the End of the World, in Hestia Belgrade.