Dedans et Dehors


Berlin | ArtRegion: Berlin, Wilmersdorf

Mehdi Chouakri Fasanenplatz

Philippe Decrauzat: Dedans et Dehors

12. November 2022 – 7. Januar 2023

Studying the life of the Roman general Marcus Regulus, one is bound to encounter the gruesome ordeals he had to endure. Contemporary sources, ranging from Cicero to Livius, describe sleep deprivation, sewing open his eyelids or even removing them as part of his torture. Though he was arbitrarily taken prisoner by the Carthaginians in the First Punic War, Regulus‘ story has inspired numerous artists, most notably William Turner’s 1828 painting Regulus. Turner decided against depicting a classical torture scene and instead painted a setting sun flooding the harbour of Carthage with its glistening light. This bright light engulfing the pictorial space is a poignant reminder of Regulus‘ suffering, as he is stripped of his eyelids and faces the harsh light that slowly blinds him.

At first glance, Philippe Decrauzat’s series of geometric paintings appear to be strictly minimalistic and modern. However, upon closer inspection, the works reveal their references to antiquity and Romanticism. In the past, the artist has explored various themes not typically associated with Op Art or Minimalism, such as rock music, jazz, feature films and Surrealism. For the Dedans et Dehors exhibition, Decrauzat created four new paintings, two of which were black and white and one painted entirely white, which are allusions to the legendary Punic harbour in Carthage. The artist modified the harbour’s characteristic round shape with only one opening, creating unique variations in the three presented canvases.

Decrauzat, with a long-standing interest in perceptual-psychological phenomena, has created a unique language of form and representation in his works, combining elements of the Regulus saga with Turner’s Pre-Impressionist art and reducing them to the essential. The round tondi, an abstraction of the eye, and its strict symmetrical composition, draws the viewer’s gaze to the centre of the painting, thereby unifying the viewer’s gaze with that of Regulus. Furthermore, the eye is drawn to the lines, either concentric or continuous, that traverse the canvas, creating a labyrinth with neither a beginning nor an end.

In the exhibition’s only rectangular work at the entrance, a labyrinthine depiction continues; resembling classical Roman or Cretan labyrinths, like in the legend of the Minotaur. However, instead of merely copying this well-known antique depiction, Decrauzat abstracts the motif to its essence. The uninterrupted black canvas creates a stark contrast with the white wall, simultaneously evoking a sense of inside and outside.

The title of the painting in the French magazine Acéphale, founded by Pierre Klossowski, André Masson, and Georges Bataille, stems from a drawing of a figure without a head (Greek aképhalos, „headless“). In addition, the first issue’s cover also featured the motif of a labyrinth, and Acéphale saw itself as a secret occult society, carrying out mythical, orgiastic rites. Similarly, Decrauzat’s paintings are highly charged with meaning, and his works are more than formal results – they are operations in which abstraction becomes a system. He takes the language of Minimalism or Op Art a step further, while simultaneously avoiding purely formalistic strategies.


Di-Sa 11-18

Mehdi Chouakri Fasanenplatz
Fasanenstrasse 61
10719 Berlin