SILVIE AIGNER, 2021
Painting and tennis are the two great passions of the French artist Laurent Ajina. In his new series, he combined both and will show the works as part of an extraordinary exhibition project in autumn at Kunsthandel Giese und Schweiger.
The idea for the exhibition came up together with his tennis partner for many years, Alexander Giese, who is just as passionate and enthusiastic as Ajina about this ball game.
Laurent Ajina has played tennis since childhood and, according to the artist: "It may sound surprising, but tennis and my art have some kind of connection. I play as I draw, and vice versa, always with and against me. Tennis and my artistic work are precision and distance. As a tennis player, you relate to geometry, space and rhythm." Born in Paris in 1970 and now living in Vienna, Paris and Los Angeles, Laurent Ajina's paintings develop as a process on the canvas. The lines are not fixed from the beginning but emerge while working.
Educated initially as an architect, the built structure of the city is also at the center of his artistic work, which is situated at the interface between painting and drawing. However, he is less interested in real urban landscapes than in the rhythm of a city - the movement of people, the networks of lines, floor markings, street signs that public and individual transport imprints on the city and the colorful network they form.
In his current series, "Grand Slam," however, the focus is not on the city, but on the "center court" of the big four tennis tournaments. In cooperation with Galerie Crone, which represents Laurent Ajina, the cycle "Grand Slam", created especially for the exhibition, is presented at the same time as the "Erste Bank Open". It is based on the broadcasts of the tennis matches on television, which Ajina follows while working in the studio, media images of the center courts and also his own experience. "Cities can be recognized by their walk, like people," wrote Robert Musil in his novel "The Man Without Qualities." How movement resonates in the streets, Musil argued, characterizes a city far earlier than any telling detail.
Even the various venues of the Grand Slam tournaments each have their own unique atmosphere, Ajina is convinced. He translates these into his characteristic visual language of lines and color fields. "Each tournament generates its own color through the atmosphere of the venue, the materials of the courts to the advertising banners," says Laurent Ajina, "from the deep blue of the Australian Open in Melbourne, to the fiery orange of the clay court at Roland Garros in Paris, the soft green of the grass court tournament at Wimbledon in London, which by the way has no advertising banners, to the shimmering glow of blue and green of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York.”
Even in earlier paintings, there were references to tennis. Especially in the works created last year, the brightly colored areas already refer to tennis courts, swimming pools and the gardens of California. Although tennis tournaments are a source of inspiration, Ajina is also interested in the formal parameters of the pictorial conceptions: the interplay of lines precisely drawn with a marker, the planes and the contrast values, and the expression of the colours. It is a reality of its own that he creates on the canvas, into which not least also - very playfully – the formal world of Viennese Art Nouveau flows. The painting becomes a tableau where motif, reflection and artistic interpretation meet. "A world full of fantasy," says Laurent Ajina, "and therefore also a metaphor for life." The series will be completed by autumn with a painting that references the Erste Bank Open at the Vienna Stadthalle. The colors, Ajina says, will be based on the characteristic gray-blue of the ground. The exhibition is to be held in correspondence with the Vienna tennis tournament and will be accompanied by a diverse program, so far as this is possible due to the pandemic. Alexander Giese hopes that this will also appeal to a new audience interested in art and sports.