Hadrien Gerenton - Les Detectives Sauvages (1, 2, 3, 4) (2019) / Pink ponds with ashes (1, 2) (2019)
One of the paths at De Oude Warande lead to two candy-pink pools. The pools are filled with resin, semi-transparent and smooth so that the trees are reflected in the hard surface. Beside the pond, four huge monitor lizards, metres tall, all gaze in the same direction, looking down threateningly at passers-by. The carnivorous monitor lizards are on collars and leads, which are tied high up in the trees. They are made of steel, cement and foam and painted in a comparable gleaming colour as the pools.
This dreamlike setting, the name of which translates as 'the savage detectives' (the title comes from a novel by the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño ), is the work of the French artist Hadrien Gerenton (b. 1987). Elements borrowed from the real world in a completely fabulous scene – this is typical of this young artist’s work. Gerenton is fascinated by the way in which people inhabit their environment and relate to the objects around them. He takes aspects – utensils, furniture, plants – from the real world, reproduces them in natural and artificial materials, distorts them, combines them with found objects and creates new constellations in which the works of art and the objects with which they are presented – such as pedestals and display cabinets – and the space in which the art is exhibited are all of equal value. A hierarchy can no longer be discerned.
For Gerenton, sculpture is not about imitation but about the transformation of the nature of things. Production processes remain visible and objects are often transparent so that it is possible to look through their surfaces. According to Gerenton, his objects enter into new connections with one another, telling new stories and creating new interactions with the viewer.
In spite of the serious undertone of the work, which asks questions about the possibility of other ways of physical existence and the experience of matter, Gerenton’s works are also amusing: a gherkin made of resin, for example, or life-size replicas of agave cacti. Or take a look at his sculpture that resembles a packing crate: the familiar arrow with the words ‘this end up’, designed to protect the contents, is pointing down.