In Western artistic tradition, the monochrome or the use of a reduced chromatic spectrum was often associated with a certain mistrust of manual labor — or so say modern discourses.
However, the monochrome has called upon a progressive and inherent proficiency in the fields of craftsmanship and opticality — at least since the emergence of a certain canonical formulation (we could say, after the coming of age of the ubiquitous proposals by Yves Klein and the darkening of the palette by Ad Reinhardt). Even if this process seems to contradict the programmatic character of condensing the range of the palette, it is still self-justifiable: the nominal condensation of the palette entailed the amplification of the subtlety of the gaze; the construction and development of tonal gradients, either assisted by phenomenological or by analytical reasons, called for a very specific know-how and for an increasingly demanding procedural excellence.
In a first approach, it is within this lineage that we can locate the work by Joël Adrianomearisoa, a Paris based artist born in Madagascar, in 1977. Using paper, textiles, glass or photographic images, his pieces are elaborate serial spatial constructions with white and black gradients, evoking Piero Manzoni’s achromas and the work of Robert Ryman. In relation to the latter, the comparison is almost inevitable as both artists develop a serial work that depends on a proficiency of execution in which their production of meaning is contained. Joël Adrianomearisoa’s fake monochromes (fake because they have several tones) are often three-dimensional and do not permit an analytical approach — their proximity to traditional practices, the way they imply timeless, collective, and often ritual procedures (such as how to wrap the body), convokes an anthropology or, at least, the creation of an anthropological procedure dedicated to the complexity of the urban. These traditional and plastic experiences of the body, which include the use of the Lamba (a traditional garment used in Madagascar as a polymorphic cover for the body) and the dressing of the body for the burial ceremonies, are part of the many convocations we can find in Adrianomerisoa’s body of work. We also detect a second difference, which is possibly as significant as the first. The artist outlines a poetics of space through the articulation of spatial structures that, sometimes, convey a certain irony, which is almost hidden behind the delicate materials used by the artist. To put in fewer words, in his work we identify a baroque awareness of space — something we probably owe to his studies in architecture — in the sense that meaning exudes from the fold, from the pleats that structure his visual formulations, from the interstitial spaces that (also) characterize baroque space. Reasonably cryptic autobiographical references, delicate materials, ductile and fragile shapes, all work as engines that activate references to cultural contexts, as well as to the field of the subtle poetics of the quotidian, to the urban as the place where multiple languages converge as image.