Whether static or kinetic, pictorial or sculptural, Le Parc’s works revolve around the repetition of basic geometric forms, whose organisation according to rigorous sequential procedures allows for potentially infinite progressions. Yet, neither abstraction nor logics can sum up his overall oeuvre. Against market-friendly monothematicism, the artist has always been radically committed to experimentation and emancipation.
Particularly known for his environments involving artificial light and mechanical movement, as well as his recurrent use of mirrors, he has developed a minimalist-adjacent aesthetics, which follows up on the GRAV’s primary interest in the public’s engagement with art.
Direct participation was notably tested by the group’s collective conception of an interactive labyrinth at the 1963 Paris Biennale. Viewers have since remained the ultimate subjects of—if not the only possible disruptive elements in—Le Parc’s otherwise meticulous compositions. Like a demiurge, he essentially orchestrates ever-changing conditions for unique perceptual experiences.
Displayed in separate rooms, the immersive installations conceived for this exhibition both literally and figuratively pull the viewers in different directions, further triggering rather antagonistic reactions. Espace à pénétrer avec trame et miroir courbe (Variation du labyrinthe de 1963) (2019) is a substantial variation of Le Parc’s original contribution to the GRAV’s 1963 labyrinth.
It consists of two large semi-cylindrical structures made of curved mirror walls, inside and outside which visitors can freely circulate. A dynamic pattern of black-and-white stripes completes the work: it covers the entire room from floor to ceiling, as well as four panels hanging at body level near the center, where they are subjected to the public’s erratic movement. Bringing to mind the traditional house of mirrors in funfairs, this maze-like installation prompts a resolutely playful experience among the audience.
Crucial to Le Parc’s aesthetics is the notion of visual instability, which is successfully achieved through the sleek vibrancy of the all-over striped pattern, as well as the deformed reflections of the public and its surroundings on the curved mirrors. While, at first, reflective plays tend to atomize the environment and the people inside, these optical effects eventually allow for a heightened sense of the individual in relation to others through mutual interaction.
Contrastingly, the second installation calls for another kind of disruption and togetherness. Plunged into complete darkness, Continuel lumière cylindre au plafond (1962–2019) offers a purely contemplative spectacle. Visitors are invited to lie down and gaze at the circular choreography of light beams on the ceiling.
Although these mesmerizing luminous forms are produced by the motorized rotation of indented discs before a projector, the invisible apparatus makes the experience all the more ethereal.Julio Le Parc was awarded the International Grand Prize for Painting at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966. A defender of human rights, he fought against dictatorship in Latin America through numerous collective anti-fascist projects.
A co-founder in 1960 in Paris of the influential collective, Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) along with Horacio Garcia Rossi, Francisco Sobrino, François Morellet, Joël Stein and Jean-Pierre Vasarely (Yvaral), Julio Le Parc is a major figure of historical importance within Kinetic and Contemporary Art. Julio Le Parc’s early paintings were influenced by the Constructivist Movement of Arte Concreto Invención, as well as artists such as Piet Mondrian and Victor Vasarely.