laurent pernot

antinoüs, antinoüs

 

Galerie Marguo is delighted to present Antinoüs, Antinoüs, a new public installation by Laurent Pernot commissioned for the courtyard of the Jardin Arnaud Beltrame. Working across sculpture, video, and text, Pernot’s practice is engaged in the material and poetic articulation of notions associated with the passage of time, such as eternity, impermanence, and memorialization. 

 

For this new series, comprising eight works spread across the courtyard and the gallery, Pernot has taken the Classical love affair between the 2nd century Roman emperor Hadrian and his beloved Antinous to explore the temporal and sacred dimensions of love; its eternal and transcendent capacity to exceed the corporeality of its beholder and object. 

 

Dates: 25 September – 30 October 2021

Artist: Laurent Pernot

Download Press Release 

  • Forever, 2021
  •  

    I often work on the basis of philosophical and historical research rooted in existential concerns and personal feelings, which I will then try to translate into a contemplative and poetic experience. Because poetry has no homeland, no language, no borders.  Because there is no human without the ability to feel poetry.

     

    — Laurent Pernot

  • The Story of Antinous

    Statue of Antinous as Dionysus © The British Museum

    The Story of Antinous

    2nd century Roman emperor Hadrian’s liaison with Antinous was remarkable for the emperor’s unabashed emotional devotion, bordering on obsession, to his ephebe.

     

    During a journey up the Nile, shortly before Antinous’ twentieth birthday, the Greek youth fell and died in the river under mysterious circumstances. Subsequently, under Hadrian’s command, Antinous was deified – literally transformed from mortal man into immortal god through the power of love. A cult was established by Hadrian in his name, a city titled Antinoopolis was founded at the site of his death; a competitive sporting event similar to the Olympics was established in his memory; and his physical appearance was immortalized by innumerable sculptors – his likeness eventually standing in for the classical ideal of beauty itself. 

     

    In the Western canon, the story of Antinous and Hadrian has remained a rich source of inspiration to artists, particularly as a symbol of everlasting – notably, homosexual – love. Among them is the prolific and mysterious Portuguese scribe Fernando Pessoa, whose long form poem, which does not recount the well-known story of their affair, but ventriloquizes Hadrian’s immense grief following Antinous’ death, serves as the basis for Pernot’s installation. 

  • Laurent Pernot, Over the Seas of Future Times, 2021

    Laurent Pernot

    Over the Seas of Future Times, 2021

    Hanging from the side of the gallery’s exterior wall is Over The Seas of Future Times, a selection of fragments from Pessoa’s text recomposed by the artist in a floating display. Left for the viewer to piece together, Pernot’s redaction mimics the very faculty of memory.

     

    As the word ‘re-member’ suggests, to recall a memory is to repeatedly compose a collection of fragmented impressions we store in the mind, thus constructing and reconstructing a new memory in each moment, forever re-cast by the lens of the present, yet capable of eternal resurrection. As such, one way to ensure the perseverance of memory is to present it in fragments, so that it may be continuously reanimated by the viewer. 

     

    Pessoa’s words are rendered in a mirrored surface, which reflect the passing clouds and changing light, as if to further amplify this intention of engagement, of a simultaneous permanence and transience.

  • Over The Seas of Future Times (detail), 2021
  • Excerpt of Fernando Pessoa's 1918 poem 'Antinous'

     

    above the strife of times and changing passions

     

    to be more love than love can be

     

    so strong my love is towering above the silence infinite love can give to mortal hearts 

    a vision of the real things beyond our presence, like eternal moon

    shine on the parapet over the seas of future times

     

    over infinities and eternities

     

    in every heart the future

  • Laurent Pernot, Forever, 2021

    Laurent Pernot

    Forever, 2021

    The device of fragmentation, as it pertains to our experience of time and memory, is also at play in the four meter long sculpture Forever,– a ubiquitously employed word in the declaration of affections – which appears to be in a premature state of erosion. The crumbling, yet still legible letters, evoke the persistence of love against the ravages of time. They also bring to mind the 18th century architectural fad for ‘sham ruins’, which appealed to the romantics’ fascination with the past and one’s own mortality. 

  • Laurent Pernot, The Kiss, 2021

    Laurent Pernot

    The Kiss, 2021

     

    In the garden, two stone boulders sit tightly nestled together, adorned on one side with two pairs of touching, sensuously parted lips. The Kiss offers itself as a place for repose or children’s play. The two boulders, while permanently fixed due to their weight, remain nevertheless unattached, frozen eternally in the lingering moment before a kiss’ consummation. 

  • Laurent Pernot, Antinoüs, Antinoüs, 2021

    Laurent Pernot

    Antinoüs, Antinoüs, 2021

    In the center of the courtyard sits the titular sculpture of the installation: a stone basin filled with water, across which two heads – one floating above the meniscus and the other submerged at the basin’s bottom – stare at each other in perpetuity. Water here becomes a material metaphor for the past, as it is both tangible but not solid, rippling and warping what we may see within it, while reflecting our views of the present. 

     

    The juxtaposition of the ancient materials of water and stone and the modern 3D printed resin heads are echoed by the subjects themselves: underwater lies a reputedly accurate likeness of Antinous, based on a bust currently held in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Facing him is the head of the artist’s companion, whose reflection further troubles our view of the distant Antinous. Suggestively positioning Pernot in the role of Hadrian, this arrangement conflates the immortalizing properties of love and art, while activating both as panaceas against the inexorable march of time. 

  • A century earlier yet, the desire to muddle our relationship with time could be found within still life painting that proliferated among artists who sought to challenge nature, harnessing in oils one eternal moment within the unstoppable tides of organic decay.

     

    Within the gallery’s backroom, two opposing conceptions of the nature morte are interspersed among the text-based painting, Somewhere Someday We Will Meet Again, and a third excerpt of Pessoa’s poem. One, The Everlasting Nature of Hearts, features a plaster bust of the godly Antinous on a pedestal. A hole in his chest harbors a real lily – a symbol of love and rebirth since the Roman era – that will wilt and be continually replaced throughout the exhibition, alluding to the sisyphean efforts that render love eternal. By contrast, Our Endless Love consists of the artist’s signature ‘frozen’ still lifes, in which a bouquet of flowers is embalmed in resin and artificial snow, arresting time and the process of decomposition altogether. 

    • Laurent Pernot The memory of our love shall bridge the ages, 2021 Mirror polished stainless steel, stainless steel cables Variable dimensions Edition of 3 plus 1 AP
      Laurent Pernot
      The memory of our love shall bridge the ages, 2021
      Mirror polished stainless steel, stainless steel cables
      Variable dimensions
      Edition of 3 plus 1 AP
    • Laurent Pernot The Everlasting Nature of Heart, 2021 Plaster, patina, glass, water, lily flower Sculpture 90 x 64 x 45 cm Wooden base 30 x 30 x 112 cm Edition of 3 plus 1 AP
      Laurent Pernot
      The Everlasting Nature of Heart, 2021
      Plaster, patina, glass, water, lily flower
      Sculpture 90 x 64 x 45 cm
      Wooden base 30 x 30 x 112 cm
      Edition of 3 plus 1 AP
  • The Everlasting Nature of Heart (detail), 2021
  • The memory of our love shall bridge the ages (detail), 2021
    • Laurent Pernot Our Endless Love, 2021 Neon, flowers, pmma, resin, artificial snow and frost 80 x 120 x 13 cm
      Laurent Pernot
      Our Endless Love, 2021
      Neon, flowers, pmma, resin, artificial snow and frost
      80 x 120 x 13 cm
    • Laurent Pernot Somewhere someday we will meet again, 2021 Acrylic on canvas, gold leaf, varnish 50 x 65 cm
      Laurent Pernot
      Somewhere someday we will meet again, 2021
      Acrylic on canvas, gold leaf, varnish
      50 x 65 cm
  • Our Endless Love (detail), 2021
  • Somewhere someday we will meet again (detail), 2021
  • ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Portrait of Laurent Pernot. Photo: Evgenia Smolianskaia

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

     

    Graduated from Le Fresnoy national studio of contemporary arts, Laurent Pernot has developed a polymorphous practice that explores human nature through the experience of time and memory. Contemplative and universal, discreet or sometimes spectacular, his artworks allude to a sense of timelessness through intricacies between the past, the contemporary and the future. His research draws as much from history and philosophy as from references to literature and poetry. The interactions between man and nature, memory and oblivion, the ephemeral and the eternal, or more recently human history and love, are among his major themes.

      

    His work has notably been exhibited at the Miro Foundation in Barcelona, the Sketch Gallery in London, the Long Museum in Shanghai, the MMOMA in Moscow, the São Paulo Biennial, and in France at the Louis Vuitton Cultural space, the Palais de Tokyo, the Maison Rouge, the Georges Pompidou Center, the Delacroix museum, the MAC VAL, the Pommery domain, and the Voyage à Nantes, among others. Laurent Pernot has been commissioned for several public works and received the prestigious SAM Prize for Contemporary Art in 2010. He is represented in museums, foundations and private collections around the world.

     

    Learn more →

  • Antinoüs, Antinoüs (detail), 2021