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Exhibition unveils rare works from French architect Jacques Hondelatte's family archive
Reminiscences, The engine room, 1985. Airbrush painting, 25.7 x 21.2 cm. © the Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Betts Project.

LONDON.- Betts Project is presenting One Can’t Engrave Lies in Marble, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by French architect Jacques Hondelatte (1942-2002). Expanding on Hondelatte’s previous exhibition at Betts Project in 2017, this exhibition unveils rare works from his family archive that assist in understanding his architectural idiosyncrasies and demonstrate his staunch disinclination for architectural sketching.

The airbrush drawings on display were produced by Hondelatte and his team between 1984 and 1987 at his studio in Bordeaux. During this period Hondelatte developed perhaps his most seminal architectural concept, the idea of mythogenesis; the moment when mythology was integrated into the his design tools as a way to metamorphise architectural elements. With this conceptual framework at hand, Hondelatte and his devoted collective Epinard Bleu (Frédéric Druot, Jean-Luc Goulesque, Patrick Jean, Jacques Robert, Hubert Saladin and Jean-Charles Zebo) became fascinated by the variability that language offered within their everyday stories and personal sagas. This interest in linguistic flexibility was assimilated to the new opportunities afforded by early computer technology to modify and amend design, and together Hondelatte and Epinard Bleu began producing airbrush drawings that were produced completely spontaneously and set out to express the adaptability of communication.

This exhibition centres around the 1984 work Untitled (Fountain of Time/La fontaine du temps), which depicts a peaceful autumn landscape alive with a light breeze that drifts between the trees and a red railing fountain. Time is seemingly on tilt and close to static as the wind governs the pace of the picture plane. This fountain is one of Hondelatte’s many mythogenec objects and becomes a recurring motive within the works of the exhibition. Like a figment of the imagination, the fountain appears at different moments and amongst varying scenes, continuously suggesting the potential for fiction and for new and alternative stories to be told.

“I am used to signing my projects with futile details, identifying signs which weave a thread of reassurance to connect all my work, and the non-continuity of which surprises me and occasionally worries me. Not long ago a spectre haunted me, and imposed itself on me. An object present in my mind and present in this project, under the trees at the bottom of the field. A fountain of time passing, it measures about eight meters, and is built in kiln-enamelled steel, with a colour of indigo. Along the sloping profile flows a trickle of water that disappears into the ground. This fountain is directed to the East, and its face is inclined at an angle of 27o; an angle which derives from magical calculations which only I hold the secret to. This fountain, like the airbrakes on the wings of a Boeing 747, would slow down, I hope, the rotation of the earth and consequently lengthen infinitesimally the time that passes. By multiplying these objects I seek to make perceptible the slowness of time.”

—Jacques Hondelatte, Logement Mythogénèse & Mélancolie, 1987

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