June 06 - September 12, 2001
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release

For his debut exhibit at the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, who represented him, Jean-Pierre Raynaud has unveiled a series of former Soviet Union´s flags within a show entitled Sous Tension (State of Tension), where around fifteen different Soviet flags will be presented. Without a doubt, the highlight of this exhibition will be Union Soviétique (Soviet Union), an outstanding work made of nine emblematic flags of the former Soviet Union.

In this new project, the flag leaves the political field to become an artwork by the very fact that it has been chosen by the artist and then tensed on a stretcher. "Stretched, in a state of tension, show themselves to the gaze for what they are. With this gesture they become Raynaud objects and I am careful not to make any other intervention." However, despite its thinness and because it keeps its whole integrity, Raynaud´s flag cannot be considered as a painting, it remains a real object, a "Raynaud".

Raynaud´s strength is to deal with these man-made objects literally. Therefore, a flag is eloquent enough in itself to make any further artistic intervention superfluous. Raynaud chooses to simply "bring them in the field of art."

Because of its political and historical symbolic, the flag is certainly one of the most passionate objects for everyone, freighted with emotions. To de-politicize it, to take the heat out of it is a very difficult thing to do; whatever, it is Raynaud´s bet. This work is not situated in a critical dimension, this is an artistic appropriation where each flag is equally treated, in a complete neutrality: "I am well aware that I am taking an object from the political arena but, insofar as this object becomes artistic, it must be accepted that it is experienced through my vision as an artist."

For the first time, Raynaud will show flags that have no longer been in use since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Depending on their own history and their past, some flags are whole and others are just fragments, which Raynaud, faithful to his principle of integrity, presents as fragments, simply tensed on the stretcher.

The Soviet flag has had a long evolution before finding its ultimate appearance, and had also different designs according to its allocation as shown in this exhibition. The reoccurring patterns of the hammer, sickle, star of communism and revolutionary red, closely linked to our History, are unanswerable aesthetic and symbolic motifs. With a considerable means´ saving, these flags sum up strong and universal feelings, deeply anchored in our collective unconscious.

"The flag became the new archetype of Raynaud´s language: a timeless artwork whose cultural dimension transcends the political symbology within the same object. The entrance of the flag-object in the art field releases him from the historical vicissitudes that the national symbol assumes."

Pierre Restany