Adel Abdessemed
de l'art

‘Histoire de l’art’, 2011–13
black chalk on paper, razor wire
262 × 184 × 30 cm

Histoire de l’art is a large drawing on paper to which has been added a head of double-edged razor wire. The head is a copy of the Christ in Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece. Made after Décor, this multi-media work confronts and towers over the beholder, employing size in a traditional, devotional manner that here reveals its effectiveness. Abdessemed went to Colmar to see Grünewald’s altarpiece just a few months after arriving in France. The extraordinary power of the figure of the Christ of the Passion—its ability to host the suffering of everyone—was reinvested in Décor. In contrast, Histoire de l’art is more concerned with the art-historical Christ, the human and divine body that has always prompted extreme experimentation on the part of artists. The lines of the drawing are joined by the tangled lines of the razor wire, making the head literally leap out in three dimensions. Far from breaking up the figure, the shift in media increases the expressiveness of the work in an extraordinary way.

Giovanni Careri