Laurent Ajina in : Cat. 54eme Salon de Montrouge
Alain Berland, 2009
« I essentially focus on urban areas and have a predilection for cities » Laurent Ajina explains. Driven by a desire to envision places to live, Ajina began studying architecture. It was during his studies that he decided to become a painter to elaborate architectonic figures on the canvas. His drawings and paintings represent lattices, creases and folds, intertwined lines alluding to layouts of landscapes, enigmatic cartographies that seem to form one sole and unique series. The works can be elaborated on paper or canvas, but the artist’s preferred medium remains the wall. It is not about completing a monumental task following the tradition of muralists, or about taking over a street like a tagger, nor is it about drawing the layout of a structure as in ordinary architectural drawings. It is about creating environments and pictorially representing the structured space. Laurent Ajina never uses exterior walls, but rather interior monochrome surfaces with all of their angles and components, skirting boards, radiators, windows and doors. The artist does not view these elements as inherent obstacles, but rather as tools that elicit a specific response. “I want to the line to show what might be within the walls; the cables, tubes, everything that cannot be seen.” In order to create the optical vibration illustrated by the movement, he uses acrylic paint and quick strokes with a large brush to paint the rough lines, and elaborates the central structure with an oil marker to keep the lines from dissolving under the layers. His work is first and foremost an idea, a line that reaches out to create labyrinths that burrow forth in one colour that become light. The progressive work of layer after layer elaborates a space of encounters and tension between drawing and color. There is no sketch to preface his work on the canvas. Ajina prefers working with a marker because its trace is indelible and leaves no room for error. A marker frees him of the need to lift his hand to dip a brush in paint, allowing him to trace a line several meters long in one movement. Some lines are thicker than others, more insistent than others, and at times appear like stains or shadows, but they are all similar in one aspect – they are void of matter and emotion. “My paintings are always works of fiction completed without any initial sketch of the final work. I take a lot of walks; my archives consist of the memories of these many walks. I trace a lines, then I paint over them, then I trace again, and repeat the process over and over. I think back to my arrival in Los Angeles a lot, the image of a megalopolis like a giant spider web elaborated in modules,” Ajina explained. There is something organic about Ajina’s work, an infinite cellular reproduction that drives him to create wall drawings as we have seen, but also murals composed of various sized frames that expose his ruptured compositions. Modules are unveiled on painted canvases that are folded up forming voluminous structures, sorts of numbered bricks that become suspended protoarchitecture . Laurent Ajina constructs an obsessional painting out of basic materials void of affectation and pathos; a work that allows the artist to occupy the surrounding space by endlessly recreating it.
Translated from French by Leslee Knickerbocker