[Photos: Filipe Braga]

David Douard (1983, Perpignan, France) is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing artistic revelations of recent years. Known for his sculptural assemblages and mixed-media installations, his work explores a broad range of references — poetry, the history of science, technology, animism, low-tech and mainstream culture — nurturing allegorical narratives based on contagious relationships between worlds we’d normally expect to be mutually hermetic. Douard was part of the graffiti scene as a teenager; the streets, and today more specifically the ones surrounding his studio in the Parisian suburbs, have long been a source of inspiration for his work.

Graduating from the National School of Fine Arts of Paris in 2011, Douard often cites conceptual art as influential in his work, counterbalanced by a strong desire to remain expressive. Douard transforms the exhibition space in which sculptures, sound works, film and text coalesce. While much of the physical materials making up his sculptures come directly from the street, elements of language are largely collected online; sourced from anonymous platforms, these fragments of poetry and discussion, uttered in the coarse tongue proper to new modes of communication emerging with the Internet, are the backbone of his work. Its digital, physical and conceptual elements are drawn together with Douard’s installations.

O’Ti’Lulabies, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Portugal, brings together and displays David Douard’s complete vocabulary. Alluding to a kind of melody for sleepless children, O’Ti’Lulabies, both shelters and reveals – it chants, in rhythm, a contagious narrative, the organic and anarchic characteristics of which are meticulously composed by the artist. Its language contaminates and corrupts surfaces akin to a peculiar sort of canvas: metal grids, vertical blinds, bay windows and partitions are all an invitation for expression. With these components, Douard plays with superposition and transparency in an array of gradations and layers, giving a fluid materiality to virtual contents, revealing and exposing a substance otherwise concealed.

There is no single way through the exhibition, but rather a multiplication of possible directions, a dense and disconcerting flow reminiscent of the urban environment. An accumulation of glazed and reflective surfaces establishing a relation with other materials — such as metal, magnets, plastic and industrial paints — are affected by motifs, moving images and sounds, each asking for attention. Douard’s manner of understanding and embracing the space is reminiscent of an adolescent’s fabrication of his “own room” — a place of overexposed introspection, inherent to an attempt at self-representation and a search for identity — a space which is both interior and exterior, domestic and urban, intimate and collective.

The notion of anarchy spontaneously arises to describe a form of equality, an absence of hierarchy running throughout David Douard’s oeuvre. Recurrent motifs induce a sensation of continuity, of fragmentation and fractality, by the means of which one work extends into another and completes it. In this constructed phantasmagoria submerging the visitor, Douard focuses on the expressive and metaphorical potential of the forms he hybridizes and sets into motion, building a revealing and representative constellation of signs where protest, poetry and discord compose the background of his work.

David Douard was born in 1983 in Perpignan, France. He lives and works in Paris. He graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2011. His work has been exhibited in several international institutions, such as: the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin (2019); KURA. Battaglia Artistica Fonderia, Milan (2018); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014 and 2018); Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2015 and 2017); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2016); Fridericianum, Kassel (2015); Sculpture Center, New York (2014); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2014); Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris (2012). David Douard has participated in several biennials, such as: 12th Lyon Biennial, France (2013); Taipei Biennale, Taiwan (2014); Asia Culture Center—Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2018).

[Text: Philippe Vergne and Filipa Loureiro]

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