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Exposition "La peinture est presque abstraite"
du 18 novembre 2009 au 23 décembre 2009
Camberwell College of Arts


La peinture est presque abstraite

18 novembre 2009|23 décembre 2009

Vernissage le 19 novembre 2009


This exhibition is the second leg of a touring show from the ‘Transpalette’ Art Centre in Bourges, France. It brings together 4 artists from London, Jane Harris, Richard Kirwan, Daniel Sturgis and Claude Temin-Vergez and 4 artists working in France, Xavier Drong, Olivier Gourvil, Geoffroy Gross and Nicolas Royer.

The work in focus emerges from the genre of ‘abstraction’ yet makes use of everything representational - images, figures, icons, ornaments, screens, and signs – with a kind of distance that they all share. Far from mere repetition, they loop, clone and use aliases… These works enjoy playing equally with the pictorial and graphic codes of art as well as those of our contemporary environment.

The position of abstract painting today is problematic. Douglas Crimp popularized the view that the self-reflexive tradition in modernist painting was unable to progress beyond the monochrome (‘The End of Painting,’ 1983). Yves-Alain Bois believed the challenges and perceived impasse of abstract painting echoed a similar impasse within modernism itself (Painting as Model, 1993).

Survey exhibitions examining the position of painting often re-activate the traditional opposition abstraction-figuration. This opposition only serves to stigmatize the question of the ‘tableau’ within the heterogeneity of two painting traditions, one coming from Picabia and the other from Mondrian. Another view is proposed here: Painting as mixing-up of the codes between medias and art.

These artists play equally with contemporary pictorial and graphic codes and our everyday environment. What connects these works seem to be situated more in the impurity of its sources (as Lucile Encreve1 states), or notions of processes, drawing and sign-systems (as developed by artist and critic David Ryan2) rather than a quest for purity as its modernist forerunners. These two critics will bring their contributions to the accompanying book to be launched during the show at the French Institute in London.



- La Box, Selection of drawings of the artists as well as works borrowed from National collections. ENSA gallery, Bourges, France, 5 - 30 November 2009.

- Camberwell Space, Camberwell College or Arts, London, 17 November - 23 December 2009.

- Jane Harris & Claude Temin Vergez, two-persons show at Ecole Regionale des Beaux Arts of Valence, France. 24 November - 11 December 2009.


Book Launch and Symposium


- Wednesday 18 November 2009, 2 – 5pm 

Institut Francais, 17 Queensberry Place, London
Box Office: 0207 073 13 50

- Tuesday 24th November 2009, 2pm
Ecoles Regionale de Valence, France.

Notes to Editors

  1. For further information and images, contact: Tatjana Gretschmann on email
  1. Camberwell Space is one of Camberwell College of Arts' public exhibition spaces showcasing work by invited arts and design professionals. We present a diverse programme of free exhibitions and educational events that supports the college curriculum by reflecting current practice within arts and design industry. Camberwell Space engages with local communities as well as general art audiences providing a forum for debate of cultural issues relevant to art and design communities and members of the general public.
  1. University of the Arts London is the first dedicated arts institution in the UK to achieve university status. A creative constellation lighting up 22 sites across London, from Oxford Street, to the Archway, to Hackney, Wimbledon and Southwark, the University brings together six of the world's most famous art and design colleges. They are: 
  • Camberwell College of Arts
  • Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design  (incorporating Drama Centre and Byam Shaw School of Art)
  • Chelsea College of Art and Design 
  • London College of Communication (formerly London College of Printing)
  • London College of Fashion (incorporating Cordwainers).
  • Wimbledon College of Art (formerly Wimbledon School of Art)

The Colleges have produced many of the greatest names in art, design, communications, fashion and performing arts, including: Anish Kapoor, Sir Terence Conran, John Galliano, Ralph Fiennes, Sarah Lucas, Gavin Turk, Stella McCartney, Gilbert and George, Antony Gormley, Pierce Brosnan, Rankin, Jefferson Hack, Mike Leigh, Malcolm McLaren, Colin Firth, Jane Root, Rebekah Wade, John Hegarty, Peter Kindersley and Tom Hunter.

Since 1898, Camberwell College of Arts has had an international reputation for educating artists, designers and conservators to the highest levels, many of whom have become acclaimed practitioners including Cathy de Monchaux, Mike Leigh, Howard Hodgkin, Maggi Hambling, Syd Barrett (founder member of Pink Floyd), Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, John Keane, Ewan Henderson, Humphrey Lyttleton, Gillian Ayres, Sarah Raphael and Tim Roth.