For this exhibition, which brings together fifteen minimalistic, enigmatic sculptures made of glass or metal bricks, the artist has systematized the use of a module that entered his work in 2009, after a journey to India. On the road from Delhi to Firozabad, a city with an age-old glassmaking tradition, he was struck by the stacks of bricks accumulated in the hope of building a house and by the countless altars covered in offerings and multicoloured necklaces. Since then, he has called on the knowledge of Indian glassblowers to blow blue, amber, yellow and grey glass bricks.
A modular element – like the glass beads that have been his hallmark since 1993 – brick has led Jean- Michel Othoniel towards more refined, more radical works, somewhere between sculpture and architecture, enabling a new monumentality inaugurated with Precious Stonewall (2010), a gigantic monolith covered in necklaces, and developed, more recently, with the impressive Big Wave (2018), which measures 15 metres long and 6 metres high. In brick, the artist has found a universal element, a common denominator between cultures and one that has traversed the history of humanity.
Feeding his latest research and generating material for new ‘obsessions’, brick enables him to reach the architectural scale he was aiming for and to try out cantilevered constructions, to go beyond the idea of sculpture, to invent a new relation to space, to rethink the embedding in the landscape, to radicalize his relation to geometry or to create places – grottoes, paths, walls, agoras – that set out a different relationship to the body, thereby synthesizing the recurrent themes of his oeuvre.