Review: Jean-Luc Moulène at Modern Art Oxford


Jean-Luc Moulène is the eponymous solo exhibition currently on display at Modern Art Oxford. The show consists of his work of the past two decades incorporating drawings, photographs and a collection of objects rather than sculptures, the latter tainted by its historical and aesthetic entanglements.

For the exhibition the pieces are displayed in a very understated way; the drawings are in plain frames and the objects displayed in a very rigid format with no commentary or description of any of the pieces. Upon entering the large area reserved for the exhibition, it is very daunting and could be construed as evidence of the perceived elitism in modern art. However the purpose of this is that Moulène’s work is a celebration of its creation as a fundamental to human activity, relating to his interest in anthropology. Therefore it is necessary to look beyond what the banality of what the object is but what it represents; to discover the relationship between images and objects without a commentary gives the artwork the potential to be highly personal.

However, the sheer number of mediums and objects on display, perhaps due to the fact this is Moulène first solo exhibition, leaves you with a sense of confusion and the entire exhibition feels quite incoherent. Geometrical drawings hang next to a large monochrome photograph of a ladder, with bronze and glass sculptures in rigid rows. It is the glass sculptures that are the highlight of the exhibition; Moulène is fascinated with arranging glass into knots, allowing one to see what usually remain hidden.

The newly commissioned film The Three Graces’ is a silent black-and-white film of three naked women. It is a shame this space is shared with his BIC drawings as the required darkness for the film devalues Moulène’s works, for one cannot full appreciate the colour and texture. The guard appeared to be enjoying his job though.

Jean-Luc Moulène is on in the upper gallery of Modern Art Oxford until 25 November.