After studying horticulture, a subject that has influenced his outlook, at the Ecole Nationale de Versailles, Bertrand Lavier began his artistic career in the early 1970s. His approach blends the spirit of Duchamp’s readymades with the mass-culture imagery of pop art and the trivial items typical of the New Realism. Lavier transcends traditional categories between painting and sculpture to emphasise hybridisation.
His works, which take the form of objects that are painted, layered, mounted on a plinth, enlarged or simply removed from their original context, are organised into chantiers or “building sites”, as he calls his series, which he deliberately leaves open-ended to allow for the possibility of returning to them. Lavier incorporates everyday objects as well as other art into his work. In 1985 he used his “Van Gogh” technique to repaint a painting by François Morellet in the same colours as the original (Lavier/Morellet, 1975-1995, Paris, MNAM). The result is an ambiguous vision of painting, its abstract nature replaced by an equivocal status hovering between figuration and abstraction. This blending of genres, principles and materials, typical of Lavier’s artistic practice, produces works that destabilise our perception, creating a visual impact through the blindingly obvious.