Air force one » a solo show of Baptiste Debombourg in ZAGREB galerija10m2
The work “Air Force One” of the French artist Baptiste Debombourg is part of the group exhibition Armageddon named after the place of the Eschatological battle from John’s New Testamen prophecy. The ominous event predicted there, the definitive battle between the forcesof Good and Evil, does not only generate suspense, but also populates the artist’s imagination with contradictor images. It pushes him towards creating a contemporary pop version of themyth of the eternal hero, savior of the world.
The mythological character Icarus, the Mannerism of Italian painters and the symbol of sublimepower – Air Force One, the airplane of the American President - seem to act as reference points in the present work. At first glance, this whole consisting of the concept inherent in the topic, the choice of visualization and the title builds up a complex synthesis, a hermeneutically constructed triplicity and a sense of fruitless outcome. Baptiste Debombourg, however, thinks that there is alinking element, and not only does it exist, but considered as a kind of anthropologism, seems perfectly logical. That is, the link between the ancient character (believing in his abilities andtempted by the possibility to reach the sun), the Boeing of the American President (symbol ofthe modern idea of strength and power) and the art style of Mannerism (expressing the rising of pathos and the intransigence as an aspect of human nature) that passes through them as a motive comes as a result of an idea of what the task of the super hero consists in. Due to his desire to give a contemporary pop outlook to his character – savior of humankind – the artist, on the one hand, departs from the interpretation of man as a “desiring machine” and, on the other hand, from the notion that “in his pride he ruins himself”. Maybe this is why the artist combinesin his work the aggression of the tacker, i.e. the contemporary profanized utility as a tool, andthe combination of pathos, beauty and unnatural movement of Italian Mannerists as a visual form concealing the aggression. Is it why his “Superman” flies straight down towards the earth?
Obviously, Baptiste Debombourg has charged conceptually his latest work with powerful pathos.But whether it comes from an intention of hidden sarcasm, or is it a product of pure sympathy?Surely, however, the synthesized result speaks of sincere compassion towards the realhelplessness of human beings. And, actually, towards that steady self-conceit cultivated forcenturies and nurtured sense of his own significance and dignity.
Nadia Timova, Sofia, January 2008
Nadia Timova is an historian of art and art critic based in Bulgaria.