Mirror Error – THÉO MERCIER till September 30th at Mor Charpentier Gallery Paris

Dear Shaded Viewers,

In his second solo exhibition at mor Charpentier, Théo Mercier offers a nuanced interrogation of the archetypal object and navigates the multifaceted role of the artist as a hybrid figure—oscillating between museum curator, experimentalist in a conceptual laboratory, and a cybernetic voyager. The exhibition features an array of mural works that are not merely visually arresting, but are imbued with an intricate web of art-historical references.

Mercier actively engages with—and indeed, problematizes—canonical modes of representing portraiture and landscape. These are not mere artistic categories for him; they become sites of critical intervention. Through his innovative visual lexicon, he destabilizes traditional constructs, creating alternative narrative trajectories that invite the spectator to reconsider entrenched notions of temporality, identity, and adaptability.

The exhibition, in its totality, functions as a complex palimpsest, where each layer of artistic influence or thematic focus contributes to a richer, more enigmatic interpretative landscape. Mercier’s work in this context serves as a compelling articulation of the challenges and possibilities inherent in contemporary artistic practice, especially as it intersects with questions of representation, historicity, and the phenomenological experience of the viewer.

Within the gallery’s bifurcated space, twenty mirrors undergo an acid etching process to bear the visages of iconic antique statuary. The alchemical alteration of the surface, coupled with the curatorially astute arrangement, orchestrates an intricate visual palimpsest wherein fragments of sculpture insinuate themselves into the reflective images of the viewers. This act of superimposition transcends mere aesthetic play; it problematizes the demarcation lines that traditionally separate the temporal from the eternal, the animate from the inanimate, and the realm of art from the quotidian experience of life.

What emerges from this symbiotic interaction between art object and spectator is a potent thematic undercurrent that calls into question the fixity of identity and the supposed linearity of history. The mirror becomes both a canvas and a conduit, challenging us to confront the fluidity and mutability of our own self-conceptions, even as we navigate the ceaseless ebb and flow of historical continuity. Thus, in manipulating these ostensibly simple reflective surfaces, the exhibition invites a deeper ontological and epistemological reflection on the ever-evolving dynamics between art, identity, and the passage of time.

About Théo Mercier

In the oeuvre of Théo Mercier, a dual practitioner of sculpture and stage direction, one discerns a compelling interrogation of the nexus between artistic creation and spatial context. His installations function as complex tableaux, synthesizing his own sculptural forms with diverse objects and artifacts acquired during his global sojourns. The resultant assemblages constitute not merely aesthetic arrangements, but sophisticated choreographies of spectatorship. They invite a critical gaze that traverses the intricate juxtapositions, ultimately mirroring the complexities of globalization. This carefully orchestrated spatial dramaturgy gestures toward what might be termed an “archeology of the future”—a space where the uncanny, the poetic, and the humorous coalesce through unexpected alignments.

Mercier received his formative education at the esteemed National School of Industrial Design (ENSCI) in Paris, before advancing his studies at Berlin’s Universität der Künste (UDK). These institutional backdrops provided fertile grounds for intellectual and artistic cultivation, a trajectory further enriched by collaborations of note. He apprenticed with Bernhard Willhelm on a sartorial collection for the avant-garde musician Björk and later joined forces with the multimedia artist Matthew Barney in New York for the ambitious opera project, “River of Fundament.”

The international resonance of Mercier’s work is evidenced by an extensive history of solo exhibitions, ranging from Villa Médicis in Rome and Prague Quadrennial in Prague to Parisian and Swiss institutions such as the Conciergerie and LUMA Westbau. His artistic discourse also engages in dialogues within collective exhibitions at venerable institutions; among them Le Parvis in Tarbes, the Pouchkine Museum in Moscow, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Recognition of his contributions to the field has not been incommensurate. He was awarded a coveted residency at Villa Medicis in 2013 and was a nominee for the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize the following year. Notably, his artistic voice was further amplified through the accolade of the Silver Lion at the Venice Dance Biennale in 2019.

Mercier’s work stands as a dynamic commentary on the fluid boundaries and complex interrelationships that define contemporary visual and spatial culture.

Théo Mercier

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.