The Reverse Process Reveals Jean-Philippe Dordolo’s Unexpected Art Possibilities

Whether or not we are willing to engage with an ordinary art perception, Jean-Philippe Dordolo‘s works take us to a place where the regular and irregular roll down the river in harmony. Dordolo challenges the language of contemporary art by presenting works out of the mainstream. At first glance, one might think that they are in front of a painting which is painted on the back of a canvas. But there is no ink, no paint, no canvas, no paper, no wood, nothing of that sort. The London-based artist creates panels out of polymer compound and glass fibre. He colours this material and applies it in a mould taken from the back of a canvas. His unconventional art might assume the appearance of paintings or drawings, but they are complete cast objects, full of energy and gist in their layered complexity.

Words: Yannis Kostarias

Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Das Bild einer Wiese 2018, Cast composite, fibreglass, pigments 102 x 76 x 5 cm, Image courtesy of the artist

Imbued with humour, Dordolo’s artistic philosophy and practice take a keen interest in representation, conceptually rich with pointed social critique. While reversing the arrangements of widely employed practices, the artist presents alternative ideas about constructing, as well as perceiving, an artwork. His visual language carries great significance; his cast paintings, for instance, are subverted in his hands and mind as the artist vigilantly creates his compositions in reverse order: from the foreground towards the background of his depiction. His body of work is also watchfully complemented by sculptures that further enhance his motifs and concepts.

His sculptures and wall works follow a similar journey. Striving to capture conceptualism with post-pop aesthetics, Dordolo rigorously showcases works based on various materials and colourful themes of still life and portraiture. Inspired by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo’s Pulcinella, the Commedia dell’arte character, Dordolo contextualises these artistic references from 17th century Italy aiming to adapt this historic imagery to a contemporary level, along with new depictions of spatial and aesthetic concerns. Pulcinella’s masks and clown costumes shape their own identity and narrative in Dordolo’s cast paintings, highlighting the artist’s ability to create new up-to-date associations through old memories. Cultural forms and ideas seem to be dynamic subjects to change.

Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Politik 1-4, 2017, Cast composite, fibreglass, pigments 40 x 30 x 3 cm, Image courtesy of the artist

Dordolo’s adroitness with various materials allows each sculpture to achieve an appealing efficacy, along with a charismatic simplicity. Recent sculptural compositions, such as A Parrot’s Parrot (2017) or The audience/the onlooker (2018), present a direct aesthetic correlation with the artist’s visual imagery presented in the panel works. Friskily executed, despite requiring demanding physical and intellectual exertion, Dordolo’s methodology depends on numerous conditions and processes – including chance. “I may start with an idea but the finished article is rarely what I envisaged in the first place; that’s part of letting my hands do the thinking”, as Dordolo mentions.

Born in France in 1981, Dordolo lives and works in London. In 2011, he completed his bachelor studies in Fine Arts at Byam Shaw School of Art in London. Presently, the emerging artist is undertaking his MFA in Sculpture at the Slade School of Art in London. His work has been exhibited in various art galleries, such as the Bomb Factory Foundation (London), Centrum (Berlin), The Cut (Halesworth), Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (Edinburgh), Large Glass (London), and Anthony Reynolds Gallery (London). This year is also remarkable for the artist as his solo exhibition “Fliegen ohne Flügel”— or “Fly Without Wings” — is currently presented at the Saatchi Gallery London curated by Kristian Day. Dordolo is also the Art co-editor of the quarterly magazine AMBIT since 2013.

In his interview with Art Verge, Jean-Philippe Dordolo shares his unique and fresh approach on his art and other issues, while also providing some very interesting insights about his daily life. Check it out!

Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Papagei eines Papageien 2017, Cast composite, fibreglass, pigments, wood 145 x 90 x 45 cm, Image courtesy of the artist

Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?  

Jean-Philippe Dordolo: I do not have a set recipe to make work. I hover in between wall and floor based pieces. I will occasionally use performance or video. I try to call onto whichever medium lends itself the best to an idea. What seems to happen though is some sort of chain reaction. And a lot of it has to do with the material gesture, and the decision making that it involves. One work or process will inform the next thing I do.

AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?

JPD: Could we try ‘Deceptive jazz carnival’?

Or perhaps… ‘Not quite palatable’?

AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

JPD: I love the works of Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. I have been looking a lot at Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo and his Punchinello characters. I’m really into Manfred Pernice and Jan de Cock. Lately I have been looking back at Fischli and Weiss, and the more I do, the better it gets.

AV: Creating a new painting can be a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?

JPD: What social life?

Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Alt. Im Park. Auf einer Bank. Mit gebrochenem Fernglas., 2018, Wood, armature wire, paper, clay, polyurethane, spray paint, oil paint, 65.5 x 37 x 36 cm, Image courtesy of the artist

AV: It seems you have been involved in a conceptual body of work based on a varied source of materials. As an artist how do you deal with the idea of materiality?

JPD: All work is conceptual, and all work is material. I deal with it by making work.

AV: How do you know when an artwork is finished?

JPD: It stops bothering me or calling for my attention. Or I stop bothering it or calling for its attention. It works both ways.

AV: In the context of your practice, could your abstract sculptures be perceived as three-dimensional paintings? Are you up for a more flexible approach or not really?

JPD: I don’t really think my sculptures are too abstract. In fact, I find there is a great deal of figuration in them. They may be described as painterly perhaps. My approach is flexible in that I welcome accidents. I may start with an idea but the finished article is rarely what I envisaged in the first place. That’s part letting my hands do the thinking.

AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?

JPD: Rose Wylie at David Zwirner in London. She knows how to make a viewer smile.

Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Cassandra “Ich sehe große Gefahren” (Wilde Sittiche), 2018, Cast composite, fibreglass, pigments, oil paint, 102 x 76 x 5 cm, Image courtesy of the artist

AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?

JPD: I don’t really have any expectations. I guess it’s good enough if they find just about anything to take from it!

AV: What does your mum think about your art?

JPD: Ahah! That’s a good question… My family doesn’t get to see my work. Ever. So right now, my mum probably thinks it’s just great I’m doing something I enjoy.

AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

JPD: Definitely a morning person. I wake up the alarm clock.

AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?

JPD: It’s an opaque plastic tumbler. I can’t really see what’s in it to be honest.

AV: What are your plans for the near future?

JPD: Keep making things.

Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Ein singender Vogel (Eine Pause, dann ein langer Kuss) 2018, Wood, modroc, pastel, 56.7 x 39 x 47 cm, Image courtesy of the artist
Jean-Philippe Dordolo, Ein Ei auf einem Ei 2018, Cast composite, fibreglass, pigments 40.5 x 31.5 x 6.5 cm, Image courtesy of the artist

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