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Frédéric Cordier’s work embodies a (post-)industrial imaginary focusing on fast food, factories or drilling installations. His “vedute”, as he calls them, do not provoke the awe of the 19th century’s romantic visions of blast furnaces represented as steel monsters violating nature. Cordier’s frontal landscapes are imbued with objectivity, even if his engravings schematize reality or are pure “caprice”. Franz Gertsch started to paint after photographs to free himself from his sentimentality. Similarly Cordier’s engravings, as well as his ink drawings, paintings on perforated metal sheets and printed wallpapers seem to amount to the bitmap image format—either black or, more rarely, blue or white. A binary aesthetics reinforced in his linocuts by the composition of his scenes with geometric forms or segments that seem to be taken from the toolbox of a drawing software. Whether figurative or abstract, his works are composed of repeated patterns that function as analog visualizations of our digital culture.
In today’s world of ubiquitous images, the sacred lies in the impalpable code. Each visualization of these digital coordinates on a screen is a generation that profanes this absent original. Cordier, whose metal paintings draw inspiration in the repetitive and iconoclastic Islamic art, plays with these polarities of the sacred and the profane. His work bears witness to a fascination for the godlike perfection of mass production. But it is through meticulous craftsmanship using chisels, knives, pens and other tools that he seeks to mimic this standardization. The deliberate adjunction of errors or the dissolution of the pattern is less reminiscent of a form of subjectivity permeating the works than of digital filters or algorithms applied to the image to disaggregate it. Through his extensive manual labor, Cordier pays then homage to the mechanized and digitalized world, while stressing its hollowness that can only be remedied through his action on materials.
Frédéric Cordier is a Swiss-Canadian artist born in Montreal in 1985. He lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland and in Montreal, Canada. He holds a BFA from the École cantonale d’art of Lausanne (ECAL).
Sylvain Menétrey, 2020
• Collection des estampes de l’État de Vaud, Musée Jenisch, Vevey
• Roche Art Collection, Bâle
• Gymnase Cantonal du Bugnon, Lausanne
• Galerie von Bartha, Bâle
• École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), Renens
• URDLA, Centre International estampe et livre, Lyon
• Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
• Musée d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec
• Fidelity International, Vancouver, Toronto
• Blue Bridge Collection, Montréal