Gilles Barbier (b. 1965)
Vaseline Onirique
painted resin
6¾ x 7½ x 1⅝in. (17 x 19 x 4cm.)
Executed in 2006, this work is a unique variation from a series of five

Galerie Bonneau-Samames, Marseilles.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Nîmes, Carré d'Art, Musée d'art contemporain de Nîmes, Gilles Barbier, 2006 (another version exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 54).

P. Sterckx, Gilles Barbier: un abézédaire dans le désordre, Paris 2008 (another version illustrated in colour, p. 269).

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Lot Essay

An eerily lifelike banana skin lies discarded, browning and askew. Vaseline Onirique (2006), like Gilles Barbier’s recurring use of his own ageing likeness over twenty-five years and his famed series of elderly superheroes, seems to speak of the inevitable pathos of the passage of time. Through his conceptual practice, however, it becomes something of a talisman: in addition to the banana skin’s standard cartoonish, humorous connotations, it is also a key element in Barbier’s absurdist sculptural vocabulary. ‘Sliding,’ he says, ‘is an activity and a way of thinking that makes it possible to skirt contradictions and lubricate differences, not in order to produce closed syntheses, but so as to experience their extremities, the two ends, a space that cannot be broken down’ (G. Barbier quoted in P. Berckx, Un Abézédaire dans le désordre, Paris 2008). Vaseline Onirique translates as ‘Dreamlike Vaseline,’ emphasising this idea of lubrication: by embracing its material paradox and incongruity, the object slips the viewer into a new world of reverie and imaginative freedom.

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