It feels paradoxical that cyberspace, which was first "colonized" by rebellious nerds, hippies, punks, and other underdog cultures, went from a hypothetical hideout filled with bizarre to a mainstream hotspot of unnaturally perfected allure. This all happened while our actual reality was set ablaze under the deafening sound of the clinking metal machinery. And having Warhammer, Philippe Druillet'scomics, and Doom in the early days of the Internet as formative experiences, Lucien Murat keeps going back to this unfortunate scenario, looking for a way to convey it in a painting-like format.
“Painting-like” cause with his rebellious attitude toward tradition or anything that feels compromised or glamorized, the Paris-based artist early on stepped away from the settled "canvas + paint = painting" equation and embarked on a quest for a contemporary alternative. An alternative that will represent the machine-backed end-of-the-world vibe and its influence on the collective unconscious that we've been all narcotized with.
When back in 2010 Murat started patching up and painting on old tapestries found in every grandmother's house in France, he did it as a way to confront the tradition and use the ready-made elements to convey the increasing chaos that was consuming his mind and the world at large. With time, this chaos became more perceptible and tangible and the work kept evolving alongside it, continuously glorifying the absurd and the grotesque. In the current body of work, the crude, hand-painted sections are adding a grime sense of the human-caused chaos to the calculated perfection of cut and sewn elements.
Influenced by the dystopian sci-fi scenarios and the narration system of William Faulkner, the greater story is broken into snippets of the apocalypse that is unraveling in real-time in front of our eyes. Following a similar intuitive stream-of-conscious flow, the works often start as simple drawings that get elaborated in their final form. Merely impressions rather than depictions, they together build a larger, ever-expanding narrative. Imbued with a dark sense of humor borrowed from the lost cause hero narratives such as Marshall Law, the enemy is recognized and faced, but the battles are bound to be lost. The romantic concept of good-doers is shattered by the sobering force of factual reality, leaving us with nothing but a lingering dying world that is increasingly moving behind the screen. But instead of depicting the actual events and locations or portraying the protagonists, stylized aesthetics borrowed from computer graphics and underground sci-fi comics are used to highlight virtuality by bringing it into physicality.
On the wings of this fresh new approach, Murat started tearing down every element of the puzzle in an effort to bring back the aesthetics of a heroic fantasy world into something concrete and tangible, with more relief and an accent to substance. Basically, pull it out from their fabricated, tech-based origins, and fix them into the physical world of tactile materiality. Consciously fighting the flatness of the visuals presented through the screen, he decided to step out of his comfort zone by hand painting the patterns, setting things on fire (both figuratively and literally), infusing them with poisonous smoke, or covering them with what looks like radioactive slime.
Resorting to manual work as much as possible, he revived his background in figurine coloring by dry-brush painting the most unusual yet grime textures, from crusty asphalt, pearly (or oil stain) shine, and glowing sparks,to radiating neon flare, pulsating veins, and glimmering pixels. Taking a break from his mythology which he was methodically developing, the immovable totems of apocalypse started to take shape, reminiscent of a society that is stuck, unable to react to its nearing bleak destiny. Placed in a patchwork of pixelated shreds that create a sense of perspective and depth while echoing the virtual world that is infecting the physical world, these technology-triggered nightmares are feverish flashes of brutal dehumanization of the world, a blazing reality.
- Saša Bogojev