We are thrilled to announce a solo-exhibition “ C’est la Vie” by the artist Vincent Gerby this week on Friday, 10t December 2021, from 4:00 pm onwards.
The exhibition’s title “C’est la vie”; a French expression for “This is life” reminds us of the pure essence of living, the ethos of being and existing; to simply observe the nature of reality and truth with a non-judgmental acceptance to the vicissitudes of life in order to create a happier present moment reality. Such is the living philosophy of the French artist, who, having lived in Kathmandu for the past twenty years, truly admires the modest and unsophisticated Nepalese lifestyle, pursuing the same one for himself with the pure joy of creating art.
Vincent Gerby, born on December 27, 1970, in a town near Paris, is a French artist based in Kathmandu. After completing his Bachelors in cinema film (editing) from Conservatoire libre du cinéma français in Paris, he worked across several media like experimental short films, books, and performance art. Working in a Korean art studio named “ Sonamu ” in Issy Les Moulineaux, France piqued his interest in painting, and since then, continued his artistic journey in this new medium. He moved to India in 2001; since then he has been living and traveling all across East Asia before settling in Nepal in 2006.
Come visit Bikalpa Art Centre on the 10th of December to appreciate this true embodiment of the Nepalese lifestyle as experienced by a westerner!
Curated by Saroj Mahato
Saroj Mahato ‘C’est la Vie’ curatorial note
C’est la vie, a French expression for ‘This is life’ reminds us of the pure essence of living, the ethos of being and existing; to simply observe the nature of reality and truth with a non-judgmental acceptance to the vicissitudes of life in order to create a happier present moment reality.
When one peeks into a gallery that is adorned entirely by Vincent Greby’s paintings, one is filled with wonder, one feels amazed and elated. The warm colours on the canvas evok a soothing feel, blooming flowers and dancing figures interplay to captivate one’s eyes through subtle and minimalist aesthetics. But one doesn’t muse about complex philosophical dogmas nor does he engage in complicated rationalisations of political beliefs or theories, he simply admires the beauty of everyday simplicity, one simply observes.
As a westerner based in Kathmandu, Greby is already accustomed to a contrastingly simple and unsophisticated way of Nepali life. He admires the simplicity of Nepalese lifestyle and imbues the same grace and modesty into his paintings, which are as unpretentious as he is. Greby’s paintings create a fantastical world that is grounded in living realism but is celebrated in magical joy and surrealism.
Greby’s belief and philosophy on the way of life is very peculiar or individualistic. He says that to be able to wake up and live everyday to do nothing else but paint is a luxury I could afford, the luxury of an artistic lifestyle. Although he doesn’t paint with a particularly concrete subject in mind, his ideas harmonise with the surrounding nature and the natural flow of his mind to create playful representations of everyday life. Neither spontaneous nor calculated or manipulative, the state of mind into which Greby delves while painting is flawless and full of subtle emotions. Working with only oil paint or pastels with a limited colour palette, Greby finds it convenient to apply raw paint to the canvas, using a naturalist smudgy technique, almost like the artists Matisse’s or Rothko’s.
Regarding the meaning of his works, Greby insists that there is none. He leaves it to the observer to comprehend each piece as he or she wants. A more detailed look into these minimalist, playful depictions of everyday life teach us about a nonchalant attitude towards life. The artist deliberates neither the realistic features and characteristics of what he paints, nor the technical aspects of it, his works are rather childlike, devoid of any underlying political or social statement, embracing intelligibility over worldly tribulations. They provide a peek into what it looks like to deliberately live life without complications, and mindfully accept the awareness of what is, exactly the way it is.
Although his artworks may seem like the western classical paintings, they are heavily influenced by eastern philosophy and lifestyle- a lifestyle he seems to feel so much connected to that he has been living nomadically in Asia for the past twenty years. Although he doesn’t come from an academic arts background, he confidently leaps into exploring his artistic journey all over in Cambodia, Thailand, India, Korea and Nepal. His works are based on the pure motif to enjoy life, and do so by painting.
His paintings are based on mere observation of the way life is (C’est la vie !; a French expression meaning “That is Life”). Like this expression, Greby’s paintings
are restrained lamentation that this is how life is, reminding us to bring more non-judgmental acceptance to life and creating a happier and healthier present moment reality. They’re a mindful observation of what it is.
Writer, France, Recently lives in Bardia, Nepal
Vincent Greby has been living in Nepal for fifteen years and is recognised as a major painter on the international scene in Kathmandu. I had the opportunity to meet him nine years ago at a presentation of one of his latest literary works(The Seven Pillars) and from there, a beautiful friendship was born. Witnessing the evolution of his painting, I share with him many theoretical discussions on contemporary art and the meaning of life. We have explored all the corners of the capital, on the principle of the geographical drifts to develop different strategies for the final completion. During these moments, art was at the centre of all controversies. At his request, I am happy to preface the catalogue of his exhibition today.
I am not engaging in sycophancy here, I am in love with his work and his path. Vincent’s painting is inseparable from his life. Always in search of new experimentation, he launched himself into painting, video, photography and digital art, which led him from Peshawar to Phnom Penh and finally to Kathmandu. His first experience in the field of painting was in the Parisian studios of famous artists such as Kwon Suncheol and Kim Suntae or Pak Dongil and Yu Sun. There, he was taught the rigour of the art of painting. He was taught rigour, simplicity and, of course, orientalism.
All his still lifes are borrowed from the Japanese style as Bonnard liked it. Bonnard was fond of the backgrounds, which predominate his canvases, letting flowers bloom with sulphurous perfumes. Eroticised, they undoubtedly fill the space and speak insidiously to the spectators of his most repressed desires. The flamboyant colours mark here their timeless presence. The backgrounds, purely abstract are these masterpieces, reminiscent of Rothko, and would suffice in themselves for an abstract canvas, so unprecedented is the work.
The use of oil creates material effects that bring depth and life to these still lifes. Another important component of his pictorial work is dedicated to the representation of human beings. I am not talking about portraits. You wouldn’t recognise anyone in these faces and languid nudes. They are only ghosts caricaturing a fallen humanity. After a slight discomfort, we find ourselves reconsidering our being and putting it in parallel with these representations.
The predominantly dark and warm tones reassure us rather than worry us. The soft, flowing curves remove all roughness so that the viewer is not shocked, but comforted. The result is astonishing pieces that can be contemplated as much as questioned.
The inner experience that these paintings give us is mainly of the order of questioning of the intimate. One does not emerge unscathed, but strengthened. I have tried to show that beyond pictorial beauty, painting must speak to you. It is not just a simple decorative object, it must be a revelation of your life. This is exactly the role played by Vincent’s paintings.
Writer, France, Recently lives in Bardia, Nepal
Installé depuis quinze ans au Népal, Vincent Greby est reconnu comme un peintre majeur de la scène internationale à Katmandou. J’ai eu l’occasion de le rencontrer il y a neuf ans lors de la présentation d’un de ces derniers ouvrages littéraires (les sept piliers) et de là une belle amitié est née. Témoin de l’évolution de sa peinture, je partage avec lui de nombreuses discussions théoriques sur l’art contemporain et sur le sens de la vie. Nous avons parcourus ensemble tous les recoins de la capitale, sur le principe des dérives géographiques que pratiquaient Guy Debord, pour mettre au point différentes stratégies relatives à l’achèvement final. Lors de ces moments, l’art était au centre de toutes nos controverses. A sa demande, c’est aujourd’hui avec bonheur que je préface le catalogue de son exposition. Je ne me livre point ici à de la flagornerie, je suis épris de son travail et de son cheminement.
La peinture de Vincent est indissociable de sa vie. Toujours à la recherche d’expérimentations nouvelles, il se lancera dans la peinture, la vidéo, la photo et l’art numérique, qui le mèneront de Peshawar à Phnom-Penh pour finir à Katmandou. Ses premières armes dans le domaine de la peinture furent dans les ateliers parisiens de célèbres artistes coréens tels que Kwon Suncheol et Kim Suntae ou encore Pak Dongil et Yu Sun. Là, lui ont été enseigné la rigueur, le dépouillement et bien sûr, l’orientalisme.
Toutes ses natures mortes sont empruntes de japonisme tel que l’affectionnait Bonnard. Les fonds, qui prédominent sur les toiles, laissent s’éclorent des fleurs aux parfums sulfureux. Erotisées, elles emplissent indubitablement l’espace et parlent insidieusement aux spectateurs de ses désirs les plus refoulés. Les couleurs flamboyantes marquent ici leurs présences intemporelles. Les fonds, purement abstrait, sont des chefs d’œuvres, qui peuvent rappeler Rothko, et suffiraient en eux-mêmes à une toile abstraite, tant le travail est inouï. L’utilisation de l’huile provoque des effets de matières apportant une profondeur et une vie à ces natures mortes.
Une autre composante importante de son œuvre picturale est dédiée à la représentation de l’humain. A dessins, je ne parle pas de portrait. Vous ne reconnaîtriez personne dans ces visages grimaçants et ces nus alanguis. Ce ne sont que des fantômes caricaturant une humanité déchue. Après un léger malaise, on se trouve à reconsidérer notre être et à le mettre en parallèle à ces représentations. Les tons majoritairement sombres et chauds nous rassurent plutôt que de nous inquiéter. Les courbes souples et fluides suppriment toutes aspérités pour que le regardeur ne soit pas heurté, mais réconforté. Il en ressort des pièces étonnantes qui selaissent autant contempler qu’interroger.
L’expérience intérieure que nous procurent ces toiles est principalement de l’ordre du questionnement de l’intime. On n’en sort pas indemne, mais renforcé. J’ai essayé de montrer qu’au-delà de la beauté picturale, la peinture doit vous parler. Elle n’est pas qu’un simple objet de décoration, elle doit être un révélateur de votre vie. C’est exactement le rôle que joue les toiles de Vincent.
A few images from exhibition