THE Y AND THE WHEREFORE.
What runs throughout the work of Yvan Le Bozec, and no doubt constitutes it, is the patient, discreet exploration, carried out with a light touch, of what can still be achieved under the name of “art”. In his case, being an artist means trying to constitute the inventory of occurrences and possibilities; it means going through the available hypotheses in order to check their validity (or not). Yet his attitude is anything but theoretical, in the sense that there is nothing that exists in this context that does not undergo experimentation and execution, however modest or ridiculous the result. With Le Bozec the experience of art draws extensively on painting and drawing and occasionally on video and a few other tools including installation in space and, exceptionally, design. Using these resources he does, in his discreet way, confront the big questions: the medium, the present state of painting, the position of the artist – all this via a rather personal conception of the self-portrait, as well as the issue of tone, of the tone taken on by any position when, beyond outward appearances, it proves to be this global and significant.
Writing too, is about laying down lines. In the education of Gargantua, a normal day would include a writing lesson and we will note that the verb used by Rabelais here is “traire”: for the noun “trait” (line) we have the verb “traire” – in other words, to draw or pull over the paper the ink-laden nib, releasing it in the process. “Traire” is also used for milking cows. The pleasure of drawing. We can now see why it is difficult to escape the erotic implications of drawing: to escape erotic drawing. Le Bozec, as can easily be observed, does not try. Especially in his drawings. As for letters, they appears in his artistic practice at an early stage, at art school, at the moment when, having tried out various modes, the time comes to adopt a more personal manner, to take a position. At Quimper he was taught by Bernard Lamarche-Vadel and, like his fellow-students, he was struck to see all this culture dedicated to the affirmation of the self and to engagement. Little inclined to solemn resolutions or emphatic declarations, Yvan Le Bozec discreetly started drawing, and soon to use letters; first dipping moveable type into ink and stamping the paper, then using stencils. Few works of his are not based in some way on the structuring presence of letters. And I have yet to talk about the Y. In the first paintings, in 1987-88, the letter is both the subject and the motif. Superimposed letters form an (illegible) word, as in Les Majsucules 1 (1988), or syllables establish an aural, phonic dimension. They can be found too in the series of drawings published in 1996 under the title Tous les jours à tous points de vue je vais de mieux en mieux (Every Day and in Every Way I Am Getting Better), and also in another set dating from 2000. Sometimes they accompany the drawing, sometimes they are the drawing. For, however light-hearted and amused it may seem, the thinking about language is very real and rigorous here. And there is this in particular, a frequent feature with Le Bozec: the word is the thing, or to borrow the terminology of linguistics, (graphic and phonic) signifier and even referent merge in one and the same reality, and that reality is a drawing.
Text published in catalogue SI J'AVAIS SU !, Filigranes Éditions, 2004.
Translation by Charles Penwarden.