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Francine LeClercq

mise en [s]cène

GHOST IN THE MACHINE Francine LeClercq, mise en [s]cène, September 4-29, 2007 Soho20Chelsea Gallery, New York

Ali Soltani 3

In the thick of opalescence, as if we are suddenly brought in to witness the posthumous findings of an autopsy, a group of things: some lexical, some material, carefully arranged, some fixed, some indeterminate; intentioned, spontaneously, coincidentally, in a rare consortium of words and image, evidently, audibly, mutely, point, form, charge, discharge a dimmed sparsed re-collection that blurts out in various curious sound forms: The Cenacolo or, The Last Supper; in some inflected form it has the sound and shape of La Cène; a less quaint one sounds something like, Shom-eh Akhar. But what is it doing here?! First a few words on The Last Super: Roughly 480 cm x 880 cm, the picture was painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 498 for the refectory of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan (Fig. 1). Like the central figure it depicts, the painting is chronologically flanked by a long list of works that predate it and those done in its aftermath. As early as 1517, that is less than twenty years after its completion, evident cracks and flakes appear on its surface. In 1568, the Italian architect/ painter, Giorgio Vasari lamented that: “there remains nothing but a blurred stain”. In 1584 Gian Paolo Lomazzo in his Trattoria Dell’arte della Pittura, Scoultura et Archittetura, declared that “the painting is in a state of

total ruin�. Interestingly Lomazzo had gone blind seven years before breaking the news so his account must have either relied on his earlier recollections or by way of word through friends and colleagues. What is extraordinary, the irreversible truth is that this most talked about of all paintings in which the slightest gesture has sent all in a frenzy in feverish pursuit of its subject stirring dispute amongst the artists, writers, Fig. 1 Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper, 1495-98 Refectory of Santa Maria Delle Grazie, Milan

poets, historians, the moral police and the scientist; the painting that in spite of itself has served as the evidence par excellence of so many findings, the famous Cenacolo, had long ago quietly departed the frozen uproar of its devoted narrators, virtually non existent when they erupted. The observer who is finally let in after long queue might be unprepared, unaware that if allowed to see the work in its authentic present state stripped bare of the mascara of its restorers, the thing the blessed gaze would encounter is likely to be a nebula of pigments powdered across a seemingly immeasurable void, with no discernible protagonist, no apostles, no sign of annunciation, no sacrament; and where is

Fig. 2 Ali Soltani

Imagined remains of The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci (computer simulation)

the genius in that? The semblance must do, it is more plausible, more aligned with our inherited memory. All is needed is a little boost of authenticity issued by the proper authorities for the right price of course, a good waiting in line and fifteen minutes of allotted time with the Maestro’s masterpiece; the observer is rejuvenated. In all irony, the truly genuine depiction of the inherently commodified and kitsch aspect of The Last Supper has been made evident in none other but Andy Warhol’s tour de force exhibit at the Palazzo Stellino directly across the street from the church where the departed Cenacolo was first painted. To speak in such terms however is to render the work strictly visual, an attribute of which we only have an

after image, whereas the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie for which the work was tailored, made its outward extrusion and the sole survivor that bears upon it the trace of the maestro’s touch, has hosted, confided and spawned the thoughts of generations of spectators, from the monks who joined the supper and shared their bread, the chained prisoner when at


the dusk of the 18th century the refectory was turned to a prison for a brief period, the expert with the scalpel and the rejuvenated observer.

Fig. 3 Francis M. Naumann

Refectory imagined from inside the painting of Leonardo da Vinci

510 years later in New York, for her third solo Francine LeClercq presents a scenario, a kind of machine-ry in which disparate disjointed parts conjointly ignite a certain thing, a certain readability that might or might not sum to a meaning but nonetheless point to the condition of its existence. This dichotomy between existence and meaning, the relation and oppositions between some thing and what it signifies, the subject and its decalogue or the artificial collection of rules and codes that frames, validates and crops its possibility Ă la Paul Valery is at the same time the contrasting schism that prevents the formation of an image into a single whole; the work of Francine leClercq is never complete, its fragmentary nature only temporal contingent upon the presence and biases of a single viewer; conjoined with another, our collective notion of the work would resemble the molecular state in liquids, loosely held, flowing to find its final form within the confines of its vessel whether that be a single stretcher or the space where its placed. However, where in the former the tentative contingency of the work was warranted by a seemingly wet and viscid state of acrylic and the resulting peekaboo of the incidental appearance of the viewer on a reflective puddle-like surface (Fig. 4); In the latter, this reciprocity is charted along the moving path of the viewer, in other words, the viscous element is the spectator itself leaving its

Fig. 4 Francine LeClercq Olympia 2003

wet trace as if by some capillary attraction guided by an unforeseen itinerary of a vagrant gaze. Hence the selection of an icon as a widely recognized and accepted something seems to be nothing short than a coup against the scholastic practice that rigidifies and wraps the work under a single one size fits all ideogram. It couldn’t be more false however to think that the work is geared to battle all past meditations, Goethe himself! Good God! Rather, the impulse is similar to a Fig. 5 The last supper untitled (fragment 1) Installation at Soho20Chelsea gallery, New York 2007

curious child who having dismantled an object to understand its construct but faced with the difficulty of re- assembling it awaits the patronage of an instructor, whether that be the present grown up in the room or the tricksy hoodoo of the ghost of Christmas past. In other words what we have are the remains of a once intact body, catalogued, laid bare, de-authorized seeming to say; “taketh,... you who shall re-assembleth me in any shape or form have understoodeth the artof living.�

Fig. 6 The last supper untitled (fragment 3, 4) Installation at Soho20Chelsea gallery, New York 2007

Mise en [s]cène, 2007 Installation shot Soho20Chelsea Gallery (next facing pages) The last supper untitled (fragments 1-6) 2007 Gesso on MDF, metal structure


Mise en [s]cène, 2007 View of installation


Mise en [s]cène, 2007 View of installation Left Insert in table


Top Still frames from web camera Right The last supper untitled (fragment 8) 2007 Plexiglass casing, rubber, archival gloves, web camera


Top Still frames from webcam Right Still from webcam


Top Still frames from web camera Right Mise en [s]cène, 2007 Installation shot


Top Still frames from web camera Right Mise en [s]cène, 2007 Installation shot


Top Still frames from web camera Right Mise en [s]cène, 2007 Installation shot

25 Still from video by Richard Jochum

Top Still frames from webcam Right Still frame from webcam


Mise en [s]cène, 2007 Installation shot


Mise en [s]cène, 2007 Photography by Pascal Vaydie


Chronology /Biography

Biography and Selected Exhibitions

Awards, Selected Reviews and Publications


Born in Belfort (90), France 1984-89

School of Decorative Arts Strasbourg, France


3rd prize of drawing, 8th Festival of Painting and Sculpture Centre Culturel Belfort, France 1984

3rd prize of painting, 9th Festival of Painting and Sculpture Centre Culturel Belfort, France . Review: Le Pays [Oct.] 21

Francine LeClercq 2006


2nd prize of painting, 11th Festival of Painting and Sculpture Centre Culturel Belfort, France. Review: Le Pays, [Nov.] 18 1989


Les diplômes s’exposent Centre d’Expositions du Wacken, Strasbourg France

Elizabeth Kiel Lamic: “Francine Leclercq, entre peinture et architecture” Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace (DNA) [June]

Bachelor of Interior Architecture


Ritleng Prize (1st prize Thesis)

Moves to New York 1996

Happy Returns Soho20 Gallery, New York 1997 Invitation card, “opening” 1999 Soho2o Gallery NYC

Diversions Soho20 Gallery, New York Looking Ahead.. Glancing Back Muse Gallery, Philadelphia 1998

Random Access Realities The Art Building, New York Entr’acte Soho20 Gallery, New York 1999

Installation view, “opening” 1999 Soho2o Gallery NYC


Francine LeClercq: Opening [solo exhibition] Soho20 Galleries I & II, New York

Award of Excellence, Manhattan Arts International



27th Juried Show Allentown Art Museum, Allentown PA Juror: Judith Tannebaum/Institute of Contemporary Art, PA

Ali Soltani: “An Odyssey”, Octagon International #3/2000 p.25, 26, 27



Untitled, a group show Soho20 Gallery, New York

Thrown Together Soho20 Gallery, New York

Winning selection from the 27th juried show, Allentown Art Museum

Small Works Washington Square East Galleries, New York Juror: Peter Blum/ Peter Blum Gallery NY International Octogon Exhibition Romanian Cultural Center, New York

Installation view, “Entr’acte” 1998 Soho2o Gallery NYC

Breaking the Rules Katonah Art Museum, Katonah NY Juror: Eugenie Tsai/ Brooklyn Museum NY

Review: Breaking the Rules Dominick Lombardi “Exploring the gamut of contemporary art”, New York Times Weschester 06/17/01

National Prize Show Cambridge Art Association, Cambridge MA Juror: Maxwell Anderson/ Whitney Museum NY

Review: National Prize Show Cate McQuaid , Boston Sunday Globe 07/08/01

Biography and Selected Exhibitions

Awards, Selected Reviews and Publications


Ready or Not Soho20/Chelsea Gallery, New York 2002 Invitation card, “Paintings” 2003 Soho2o Gallery NYC

Ten Contemporary Artists, 5 x 2 part II Allentown Art Museum, Allentown PA Post This, An Art Critic Choice Studio Gallery, Washington DC Juror: Michael O’Sullivan/ Art critic Washington Post New/ New Old, Evolution, Conceptual Links Soho20/Chelsea, New York 2003

Red Gallery 218, Milwaukee WI Installation view, “Paintings” 2003 Soho2o Gallery NYC

Francine LeClercq: Paintings [solo exhibition] Soho20/Chelsea Gallery, New York


Review : Ten Contemporary Artists, Part II Geoff Gehman “Works unnerving to nervous pace at museum show”, The Allentown Morning Call. 12/06/01. Review : Ten Contemporary Artists, Part II Kenneth Endick “Contemporary art inspires contemplation”, Easton PA Express Times. 01/11/02 2003

Ali Soltani “The Painting and the Gorgon, a reading onto the work of Francine Leclercq” Arhitext International #9

Xpo Spring Proda Studios, DUMBO NY 2004

Ascent, (AIS annual exhibit) Local Project Gallery Queens Curated by Byron Kim Outside the box Robert Schonhorn Arts Center, NJ Juror: Tim HildeBrandt, Gary Snyder Anna 33 The Holter Museum of Art, MT 2005

Public process for public architecture Chicago Architecture Foundation, IL McCormick Freedom Art Competition McCormick Freedom Museum, Chicago IL Small Works Soho20Chelsea Gallery, New York New Directions ‘05 Barrett Art Center NY Juror: Steven Evans / Dia Foundation Beacon “Cézanne’s Tablecloth”, Stilled life/Islip Art Museum 2006

Water Tanks, The Chicago Prize Competition Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago IL


Dr. Livio G. Dimitriu: “The Unbearable Lightness of Tectonics”, Arhitext International [Oct.] Ali Soltani “ The [Un (for) seeable] Paintings of Francine LeClercq” Arhitext International [Nov.] 1st Prize, Anna 33 National Juried Exhibition Juror: Larry Thomas /San Francisco Art Institute


3rd Prize McCormick Freedom Museum International Competition for a “signature” Art Piece Jurors: James Cuno/Art Institute Chicago, Susan Fisher Sterling/National Museum Women in the Arts Charles Storch “ Finalists named for sculpture at Tribune Tower Museum” Chicago Tribune 04/2005 Lara Allison “ Exhibit showcases monumental debates” Chicago Tribune 04/2005 Charles Storch “ Bill of Rights inspires artwork” Chicago Tribune 07/2005 3rd Prize Chicago Prize International Competition: Water Tanks Jurors: Thom Mayne (Pritzler price architecture 2005), Martha Thorne Assistant Curator, Art Institute of Chicago, Lynne Warren Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Blair Kamin “ World’s designers aim at tanks” Chicago Tribune 10/27/2005 Kevin Nance “ Idea for city’s water tanks generates award” Chicago Sun-Times 10/27/2005 Blair Kamin “ Invention can be a double-edged sword” Chicago Tribune 10/30/2005 Nancy Maes “ Can water tanks be art” Chicago Tribune 11/04/2005



Stilled Life Islip Art Museum, NY Juror: Daria Brit Shapiro, historian

Drawing Stage, Exhibition Catalogue CWOW, Introduction by Carmen E. Ramos [Oct.]

Ideas, Images, structures Soho20Chelsea Gallery, New York

Site specific installation “Drawing Stage”, CWOW 2006

Drawing Stage CWOW (City Without Walls) Newark, NJ Juror: Carmen E. Ramos/New Jersey Art Museum

Benjamin Genocchio, “ Objects at Rest” Review: “Stilled Life”/Islip Museum, The New York Times 07/22/2006

Dan Bischoff, “ Make Room for Drawings” Review: “Drawing stage CWOW Newark, The Star-Ledger 09/22/2006

Biography and Selected Exhibitions

Awards, Selected Reviews and Publications



Access: A feminist perspective Rhonda Schaller Studio, New York

Fancine LeClercq: mise en [s]cène (Solo Exhibition) Soho20 Chelsea Gallery, New York Metro25 CWOW (City Without Walls) Newak, NJ Small Works (Benefit) Soho20Chelsea Gallery, New York Postcards on the Edge, (Benefit) James Cohan Gallery, New York Night of 1.000 Drawings (Benefit) Artists Space, New York

Patrick Mimran’s New York Billboard Project, September 2007

PAWNSHOP, e-flux, New York Project by Julieta Aranda, Liz Linden and Anton Vidokle

“ Access: A feminist perspective” Exhibition Catalogue, Blue Pearl Press, Jan. 2007 Patrick Mimran Billboard Project Competition, Chelsea Honorable mention, Metro25, CWOW NJ Juror: Heather Darcy (Mixed Greens), Erin Donnely (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Carlo McCormick (Paper Magazine) Dan Bischoff, “Working small but thinking big” Review: “Metro25” CWOW Newark, The Star-Ledger 11/30/2007 Winner Round #5 Second Showdown Saatchi Online Gallery, London UK Francine LeClercq, mise en [s]cène, Exhibition catalogue 32 pages, with text by Ali Soltani “Ghost in the Machine” LuLu publications


Metro25, (traveling exhibition): [April ]: Monmouth County Library, Manalapan NJ [June]: Johnson Public Library, Hackensack NJ [July- Sept.]: B. Beamsderfer Gallery, Highland park NJ [Sept-Oct]: Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ

Invitation card 1/3, “mise en [s]cène” 2007

Installation view, “mise en [s]cène” 2007, Soho2o Gallery

Invitation card , e-flux Pawnshop, 2007

This installation at Soho20Chelsea Gallery was made possible through a generous fellowship of Soho20 Artists inc. Special thanks to Ali Soltani, Lucy Hodgson, Eve Ingalls, Simone Giostra, Pascal Vaydie and Philippe Leclercq.

Catalogue Š 2007 Francine LeClercq All works of art by Francine LeClercq unless indicated otherwise Essay Š 2007 Ali Soltani Photography, Design and Production: Soltani +LeClercq Cover Photography: Pascal Vaydie All rights reserved

Francine LeClercq, Mise en sCene  

Exhibition Catalogue 2007 Text by Ali Soltani

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