An experimental artist shown in 2004 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Groborne works in isolation. For him, sculpture is only one of the states, one of the stages of his research, which also expresses itself through etchings, reliefs, drawings, paintings and photographs. His forms change according to the possibilities suggested by each medium, acquiring new properties by migrating from one technique to another. Groborne never stops questioning his material : found objects, materials from daily life poetically metamorphosed by his mechanical and chemical manipulations, then archived in their monumental effects. Groborne approaches the creative forces of chaos. His constantly metamorphosing works are a study of the transitory value of time. Eroded lines fashion immemorial, sometimes almost geometric shapes.
“Robert Groborne’s sculptures are tiny monuments joining the eternal forms of human will (geometric or architectural forms, arches, steles, pyramids) with the material of the humblest scraps.
They conjure but don’t represent; they aren’t miniature landscapes; matter is strongly present, but at actual size.
It is the qualities of surface, accidents, hollows and reliefs, granulation, texture, the vagaries of matter, the irregularity of outlines, not to mention the beauty of his particularly meticulous patinas that give substance to these bronzes. So much so that we are seized by doubt: what if these humble, flat sculptures were some sort of drawing, of etching?
This doubt is grounded. We quickly find out that sculpture is just one of the states, one of the one of the stages of his research, which also expresses itself through etchings, reliefs, drawings, paintings and photographs. His forms change according to the possibilities suggested by each medium, acquiring new properties by migrating from one technique to another. These have porous borders and are closely connected. Thus, a shape or a found object can lead to a sculpture, whose scanned surface may give rise to computer graphics in several variations which, transferred to copper, will become etchings… Or the other way round: a simple drawing, a triangle, can become a sculpture after being transformed with computer graphics. In the same way, reliefs can produce drawings through rubbings.
If the sculptures strive for frontality, the etchings are gorged with a volume they don’t actually have, they are endowed with sculptural power. And the rubbings are so dense with matter they are immediately perceived as illusions, as photographic specters. What are those shapes? They fall under elementary geometry, without being abstract. On the contrary: they are loaded with such materiality that they are like pieces of tangible reality.
These forms are the result of recycling. They can come, for instance, from an Assyrian bas-relief admired in the Louvre. Most often, they are provided by a fragment of concrete reality. As Isabelle Monod-Fontaine writes about the etchings (but this also goes for the sculptures), it is a matter of “recognizing beauty in its humblest, least dazzling guises. Picking up worn-out, undefinable trash in the sand, like bits of shoe soles that have become almost transparent, or seemingly shapeless scraps of metal. Finding on grey asphalt the gleam of a crushed gas tank cap. But also, collecting the most refined shapes of so-called popular art, or taking pictures of shadows, reflections, a door handle or a shutter in a Southern town. These daily gleanings enter Groborne’s work, feed it, give it its special dynamics, the manifesto of a secret life. The constant, poignant push of passing time is at work here, a push that ultimately erodes and unmakes the best-defined outlines.”
Though the artist is attuned to the erosion of things, his is not a poetics of ruins focused on a feeling of dereliction. But rather a poetics of memory, imprinted in the matter of things; memory as a vector of energy : the collected fragment will generate a form that will be transformed, from one medium to another, multiply into new proposals, surprises, in the discontinuous flow of artistic creativity.
Since the start of his career in the late 1960s, the artist has never stopped coming and going between the various techniques he enjoys treating in non-traditional ways. His paintings are in relief, his sculptures have the frontality of steles, his etchings and drawings seem to generate volume.
Another constant is the choice of black and white, which contributes to underline the interiorized, mental, silent dimension of his work. Therefore, it unfolds in a multiple, moving space, between the white sheet and the sculpture which is its shadow.” (Isabelle Monod Fontaine).
Robert Groborne is represented by the Galerie Alain Margaron since 2004.
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2020 « Hommage à Robert Groborne », Galerie Alain Margaron, Paris
1973 « L'estampe contemporaine », Bibliothèque nationale, Paris