Baptiste Debombourg’s conceptual sculptures are artistic hybrids about noticing, which is what artists do these days: study the everyday for its reflective potential: how it can be both what it is and seem very different. A spaceship like interior, classical entablatures; miniature handmade slave palettes serve as preciously absurd plinths; a shopping cart is given a floral design, then painted in Cadillac gold; a five-meter-tall triumphal arch is made out of cardboard boxes as a disposable monument; a female body builder mimics a Michelangelo Venus; a functioning multi-colored urinal is made out of plastic Leggo-like parts, bringing Duchamp’s readymade back into use art; furniture smashed to smithereens is painstakingly put back together, the dysfunctional furniture recalling all the king’s men badly patching up Humpty Dumpty.
These are non-art objects transformed into anthropological statements. Although fraught with irony, the works are so well made that irony’s smirk is diluted. And as a progression of works, they exhibit exceptional consistency. Seeing them as evolutionary objects, rather than as historic ones, says something about their relationship to lineage. Transforming everyday material he makes us see those everyday things through the dream they might imagine for themselves. Styrofoam turned into marble, the businessman as hero, disposable objects as art forms, games as ceremony, furniture as psychological accoutrements. These are everyday things we need but tend to disregard. Debombourg puts into them the kind of dream we inculcate for ourselves. Time, history, and memory pass through us like dreams as we pass through them in time.
Jeff Rian, April 2006
Jeff Rian is a Writer, art Critic and musician. He is a contributor to Art in America, Frieze, Flash Art & View on Colour. He contributed to many catalogues. He is an editor of Purple magazine.