'Pastel Shadow' is Stéphane Dafflon's first solo exhibition with Air de Paris since 2013

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'Pastel Shadow' is Stéphane Dafflon's first solo exhibition with Air de Paris since 2013
Stéphane Dafflon: AST462, 2023. Acrylic on canvas, 135 x 135 cm, unique © Annik Wetter.

PARIS.- Air de Paris has begun Pastel Shadow, Stéphane Dafflon’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition presents a new body of paintings that continue the artist’s investigations into the perception and experience of color.

These new paintings by Stéphane Dafflon combine two realms of science, mathematics and the spectrum, number and color. In them we oscillate between contradictory perspectives: geometry, a stern thing of edges lines and angles, and the chromatic wheel, a diffuse thing of minute gradations. In the paintings both are put to straightforward use, despite engaging in a deliciously uncertain ontology.

The color spectrum, which Newton discovered is a quality of light, a form of electromagnetic radiation, is thoroughly understood by science, while at the same time we read it as a marker of aesthetic feeling and spiritual mystery. With Dafflon’s paintings, the color is nonchromatic, it evokes light, tint, tone and shadow rather than pure chroma, it places its color in the world. Yet the ontology of color remains contested. It is not real in the same way as the canvas support, whose existence like mountains and sunlight doesn’t depend on a human observer. Our perception of color rather results from the reflection of light rays captured by the eye, it only exists when a viewer sees it, as difficult as it is to imagine the concrete world as effectively achromatic.

Geometry, that is, mathematics, is also a matter of ontological debate. Do the straight- edge and right angle exist a priori, are they natural objects that we discover in the world, or are they a product of human culture, a function of human cognition? Geometry is both immaterial and real, is it objective or a product of anthropoid regard? The spectrum and geometry, color and points and lines, these elements of abstract painting marry intuition and rationality, the ineffable and the hard-headed.

Miró said art could be “confused with elements of nature,” and abstract painting like this civilizes what is natural and raw within a rectilinear logic, consummating the union in a space of transformative contemplation. It is a geometry of heaven, transcendent and infinite, hovering in an unearthly space, a limitless field differentiated into uniform emanations of subtle light.

The alchemical act — metamorphosing elements of science into art — is a stab at mystical transcendence, once the goal of progressive abstraction. It has been posited that geometry, planes and angles, are masculine while color, especially soft nonprimaries, are feminine, so we could imagine the fusion of mother and father creates the ideal primary object, a cosmic space filled with constrained luminosity.
Text by Walter Robinson, 9-24-23

Stéphane Dafflon (1972, Switzerland) lives and works in Geneva. His work has been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions including at Le Plateau – FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris and Musée des Beaux-Arts Le Locle, Le Locle (both 2018); FriArt Kunsthalle, Fribourg (2011); Mamco, Genève (2009); FRAC Aquitaine, Bordeaux (2007); and La Sinagogue de Delme (2002). His work can be found in important public collections including CNAP, Paris; Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Switzerland; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne; Musée Jenisch, Vevey; and Kunsthaus Aarau.

Air de Paris
Stéphane Dafflon: Pastel Shadow
November 5th, 2023 - January 14th, 2024

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