10.04.2024 Almine Rech #art

Joël Andrianomearisoa

Things and Something to Remember Before Daylight

For his first exhibition at Almine Rech, Joël Andrianomearisoa takes the visitor on a nocturnal meander of mystery and enchantment. The dramatic scenography evoking landscape, architecture and the night loosely recalls the pavilion that the artist created when he represented Madagascar at the Venice Biennale in 2019. Curated by Jérôme Sans, it also reveals how the practice of Andrianomearisoa, who is based in Paris and Antananarivo, has subsequently evolved.

What’s striking is the richly diverse ways in which Andrianomearisoa, 46, works with textiles. On view are new captivating pieces recalling abstract paintings made with raffia and the artist’s signature black strips. Concealed behind a large black curtain delineating the space is another sequence of works textured with lace, like an ode to bygone times. Whisperings by the composer Camelia Jordana add to the atmosphere, as do the neons, ‘Things’ and ‘Something’.

Elsewhere are cascading fabric sculptures, raffia tapestries made by the Manufacture d’Aubusson, which has been producing tapestries since the seventeenth century, as well as pieces that faithfully transcribe the artist’s drawings and writings.

For me, the art world is almost the perfect world where everything can be possible.It’s perhaps the world of freedom.

The title of your exhibition, ‘Things and Something to Remember Before Daylight’, recalls the title you gave to the Madagascar Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019: ‘I Have Forgotten The Night’. What can you tell us about some of the interwoven ideas?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

There’s a relationship to landscape, architecture – I completely changed the space of the gallery – and emotion. The big black curtain is like a curtain in a theatre but evokes the night, before daylight. The landscape is something that one sees but that’s also imaginary. The architecture is something that exists but that’s also a new form, not necessarily practical but linked to sensations. It’s a sort of retrospective because I’ve made an inventory of my work.

The pieces made from black strips of silk and cotton have always been there but the novelty is the use of raffia, a natural material that I’ve brought back from Madagascar. They’re paintings that are sculptures, too, with a relationship to the day and the night and perhaps the sun or the moon entering. In other works, I’ve used lace and hand-embroidered domestic elements that belong to me and come from the Creuse.

Other materials in the exhibition come from Tunisia, Benin and Nigeria. I’ve also made tapestries with the Tapestries of Aubusson; it’s the first time in Aubusson’s history that they’ve made tapestries with raffia. Many pieces encompass savoir-faire craftsmanship. The neons, for example, were made by a glassblower in Clermont-Ferrand with whom I’ve been working for a very long time.


Your textile works made with strips of black fabric are the signature of your artistic language.

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

Yes, it’s like the ink or the writing [of my work] that’s always existed. It’s been 20 years that I’ve been making these strips that are glued on, sewn and drawn. It’s a geometry that’s close to the beating of a heart but something very close to drawing with vertical or horizontal strokes.

Why did you gravitate towards becoming an artist after studying architecture?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

I came to Paris to study at the École Spéciale d’Architecture. I knew whilst studying architecture that I wouldn’t be just an architect. It’s the thinking of an architect that interests me more than being an architect. Then I met people like [the artist] Pascale Marthine Tayou and [the curators] Simon Njami and Jérôme Sans. For me, the art world is almost the perfect world where everything can be possible. I can be a visual artist working with different media, making videos and textile works and creating collaborations. It’s perhaps the world of freedom. It’s also a domain where I can talk about architecture, landscape – either as a territory or something else – and emotions. Talking about emotions is very important for me.


Talking about emotions, you’re known for writing poetry and integrating poems into your works.

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

I’m not a writer. I always say that I manipulate words. Essentially, I use language as if I were painting or drawing. Words, literature and poetry interest me and I think that language is a very easy, useful element to transmit emotions and to say things that are hidden. “Sentimental” is a word that I’ve been using for a very long time, not in a romantic sense but in how one can have a sentimental relationship with an object. For the exhibition, I’ve written a certain number of texts for the public and created objects that one can acquire: a set of lighters, a tote bag, an ashtray… I like the idea of “To Lose” and “To Steal” [printed on the set of lighters] and of losing, stealing and refinding things.


You’ve also made textile works embroidered with your handwritten texts and drawings.

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

Yes, they’re texts and drawings that I made and gave to an embroiderer who hand-embroidered them. Each piece embodies all the subtlety of a retranscription and took a month to make.

This is your first exhibition at Almine Rech after showing in the gallery’s small, boutique-like “front space” in September. Why did you decide to work with Almine Rech?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

The discussions with the gallery started two and a half or three years ago. I think it’s very important with a gallery to take time to get to know each other. I’d wanted a Parisian gallery for a long time and the engaged attitude and freedom of a gallery is something that’s very important. Almine allowed me to change the spaces [for my exhibition] and to work with a perfume [Diptyque].

You divide your time between Madagascar and Paris. How does Madagascar inspire you?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

I always say that Madagascar is me and Madagascar is inside me because when you see my name, it’s Malagasy. But my heart is very international. What I narrate about Madagascar is not necessarily cliché but things that are a bit mysterious that I treat in very subtle way. For example, raffia, which I’ve used in my new works, is a very Malagasy material that’s usually seen in handbags, fashion and exotic things. What I’d like to show is that Madagascar isn’t just politically and economically problematic but that it’s a country with energy and great history and that it’s very strong emotionally, a large part of our culture being linked to poetry and literature.


How do you work between Madagascar and Paris?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

I have a studio in Paris and another in Antananarivo which function in the same way. I have 10 people working in each location. It’s been like that for 20 years. I go once a month to Madagascar. Madagascar inspires me more but the forms of the pieces develop in Paris although sometimes it’s the opposite. The pieces in my exhibition were conceived in Paris, then travelled to Madagascar, and went back and forth four times before returning to Paris.


You also have a large space in the Creuse. What function does it have?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

It’s a very large space but no one is based there. Part of my family owned this place originally and wanted to sell it. After seeing it, I said I’d buy it and then I also bought three other barns: one is a house, one is a storage and one serves as a studio. I go there when I have to produce an exhibition or a large installation to do a test, almost like a mock-up. So the whole team from Antananarivo or Paris will go there together. Before Venice, for example, we made a mock-up of the pavilion there. This exhibition was also more or less mounted in the Creuse in order to understand the volume.


A few years ago, you founded Hakanto Contemporary in Antananarivo. Why did you establish this space and what do you want to achieve there?

Joël Andrianomearisoa:

After Venice, the question was what can I do now? So I had this idea of launching a laboratory or platform with the complicity of a friend, Hasnaine Yavarhoussen, who is also my patron. It’s a place where mostly young Malagasy artists can exhibit and experiment. Since this year, the idea is also to invite international artists such as the Turkish artists, Mentalklinik, who are friends of mine. We also show Malagasy artists who moved abroad very young and who’ve never presented their work in Madagascar, such as Malala Andrialavidrazana who we exhibited last year. I’ve invited the Malagasy artist Jessy Razafimandimby, who is represented by Sans Titre gallery, to exhibit in September.


Interviewed by Anna Sansom

Crédits Photo Portrait: Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech – Photo: Dominique Maître
Crédits Photos Vues d’exposition: © Joël Andrianomearisoa / Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech – Photos : Nicolas Brasseur

Almine Rech, 64 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris

Until 17th April 2024


More Interviews
See all