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The Leftovers, Oriental Blue (2016-2017)
47 x 26 x 22 cm
unique, 3 versions + 1 AP
version 1 and 2 : Private collections
Photo : Hugard & Vanoverschelde (1-2), Mehdi-Georges Lahlou (3-5)
Looking at The Leftovers Oriental Blue, one cannot avoid thinking of the classical busts of the Antiquity. Fallen into disfavour in Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire, ancient sculpture was rediscovered not early than during the Italian Renaissance. The forms, full of realism, and abandoned for centuries, transported through the time the image of a lost civilization, provoking fantasies and illusions. In The Leftovers Oriental Blue, Mehdi-Georges Lahlou creates a fictitious heritage of a certain civilization. He distorts the initial codes of the Ancient sculpture, and our expectations. Thus, we are confronted to the bust of the artist, rather its remains, made in an unusual material and once tinted in oriental blue. The colour, sometimes also called ultramarine (from the Latin ultramarinus, “beyond the sea”), is identified with the Orient: it has literally come to Europe from beyond the sea, as it was first imported from the mines of Afghanistan in the 14th-15th century. The bust is laid down. If we look closer, we can slightly distinguish the oriental ornament of mashrabiya on its bottom part, while the rest demonstrates the imprints of time. Bringing together all these elements, the artist questions the image and the representation. He interrogates the perception of civilizations and cultures, as those of the Ancient empires, the Orient and the Occident, and nourish phantasms about them. He imagines a hybrid culture that connects seemingly incompatible elements: the classical sculpture, the oriental blue, mashrabiya and the artist’s portrait, made in glass. A “classical” bust in blue may also surprise one’s eye, but as we accurately know today, the ancient sculptures, at the time, were bright-coloured. A fact that escapes us due to the images we’re used to, allows Mehdi-Georges Lahlou to highlight the conditionality of our regard.