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Code Noir 5 image

2018

Paint on 7 wooden panel

59 x 114 in. (150 x 290 cm)

Courtesy of GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/Habana and RICHARD TAITTINGER GALLERY, New York

About

Deeply linked to his own "voyager mind", Pascale Marthine Tayou’s work comes into contact with what is other to the self. His objects, sculptures, installations, drawings and videos have a recurrent feature in common: they dwell upon an individual moving through the world and exploring the issue of global village.

His work is characterized by its variability, since he confines himself in his artistic work neither to one medium nor to a particular set of issues. While his themes may be various, they all use the artist himself as a person as their point of departure.

Globalization, mass production, and overconsumption are confronted by Tayou’s work which incorporate fragile materials such as crystal and sticks of chalk. He highlights the fragility of mass-produced objects, including chalk and ceramic pots. By combining these elements in repeating patterns he lends them weight and strength. His chalk frescos also take on a collaborative element as he works with his assistants to hand place each individual element of the works.

Tayou’s work was originally used as a reference to the racial segregation after the abolition of slavery. Tayou acknowledges this past and present in the monumental, seven-panel work titled Code Noir. At about 70 feet in length, the panels show the silhouettes of people painted black, with a black barcode printed on top of them. This alludes to both the Code Noir, or slave code, which was a decree originally passed by France’s King Louis XIV in 1685 defining the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire, and the Black Codes passed by the Southern states in the United States in 1865 and 1866 after the American Civil War, restricting African Americans’ freedom.