Mitch Speed on the Work of Charly Roussel
It's hard enough to push the giant ideologies – capitalism and communism – out of mind, long enough to imagine an alternative world.
Harder still is to model such a world in art, without slipping into didactic propaganda languages, which cancel the protean human spirit, that first inspired the work.
It is this dilemma that motivates Charly Roussel's paintings and installations.
For many years, his paintings have performed the messy reality of living, moving, and feeling in the world, as a subject at once expressive, desiring, and critically engaged. They have done so by mixing and overlapping the embodied phenomenon of painting, with the synthetic, hyper-sexualized bodies of glossy advertising media. In this way, Roussel's work does not so much issue a critique of capitalism, as picture a struggling but optimistic encounter between that money hungry belief system, and the creative human bodies from which it extracts profit.
Often, the artist's over-paintings contain surrealistic sexual imagery, echoing the photoshopped sex icons beneath them. But just as often, these erotic motifs blend into patterns of more general collective movement, like concentric waves of silhouetted hands, moving both away and toward the image's centre: both away and toward the hidden model's body. And interestingly, while Roussel's painted images are much more sexually overt than the photographs below them – a red face against night sky composed with three negative and positive erections, or a mosaic pattern made from interlocking ass-cheeks – their comic directness communicates a complete non-interest, in manipulating the viewer's libido. Instead, the over-paintings seem almost to mock their seductive photographic hosts, with candor. still, as tanned bellies, slender legs, and luxury interiors peek through, a reminder is issued of the deep hold that capitalism exerts on us, by way of its cannily produced visual language: images whose purpose is to reduce our swirling, complex subjectivities into simplified hetero-sexual desires, easily manipulated by marketing campaigns.
Roussel retains this spirited critique, while returning to the environment and aesthetic that nurtured it. Incanting the look of early techno promotions like Spiral Tribe, his work reaches back in time, to draw upon the ethos of radical egalitarianism communicated in nascent dance culture, before it was attacked and suppressed by mainstream conservatism.
Roussel's lexicon of subverting commercial posters has now morphed into the idiom of revolutionary culture. But these new works are also a retrospective vision of that emancipatory culture's own expression of self: a vision that always keeps one eye on the nature of design itself, as a medium of social control or encouragement. In the current media climate, whether our ability to think or feel is consistently flooded by manipulative corporatist imagery, it is the ability to physically respond to these manipulations through the practice of art making, that constitutes the real political potential – the living, animate, embodied critique – in Roussel's work.
-PARABLE OF THE BEAT >< at Transmediale Vorspiel, Berlin.
-Bordell des Art pres Body Pattern - Strictly for the Street at Salon Zur Wilden Renate, Berlin.
-Berlin street show - Body Pattern on bulk waste. (never ending show)
-Bordell des Art pres Charly Roussel - Karoussel Codex at Salon zur Wilden Renate, Berlin.
-Spool, experimental trio, going for the no go, EP release.
-Live soundtrack to Joyce Wieland films at Sentimental Punk/Kotti-Shop, Berlin.
-Bordell des Art pres Charly Roussel - Body Patterns at Salon zur Wilden Renate, Berlin.
-Ad-vice, solo show at Galerie Lumina curated by Ronnie Niedermeyer, Vienna. Ad-vice, Finissage-The Modern Mating Call, feat Franz Hautzinger.
-The Modern Mating Call, at the events, Existenz Palast/Volksb̈hne, Donau 115, Berlin, and De Ateliers, Amsterdam.
-Which Charly is ours? at the group show Vienna for Arts Sake, curated by Peter Noever, Schloss Belevedere, Vienna.
-The Modern Mating Call, premiere of the solo performance at Theatro Lethes, Faro.
2013 – 2018
-Performing at various venues of Berlins impro and art scene such as, Schrippe Hawaii, Klärchens Ballhaus, Shangl Hangl, Koti Shop, Mainzer7, Galerie am Körnerpark and Jonny Knüppel.
-Organizer and performer of the weekly Jazz Session at 16cc, Amsterdam.
-Release of the Debut Album “Canvas Roussel” with a tour through Lativa, Portugal, Austria and Germany.
-Moments of Perception, solo show at Studio K, Amsterdam.
-Consume, screening of the video montage with a live Performance by Canvas Roussel, Theater Crea, Amsterdam.
-Founder of the psychedelic Jazz quartet, Canvas Roussel.
Performing among other venues at Bim Huis, Amsterdam, Rigas Ritmi, Latvia, Vinyl, Lisbon and The Shrine, New York.
-Inner Urge, double bill show with Rebekka von Zimmermann at Chiellerie Gallerie, Amsterdam. Winner at the Keep an Eye International Jazz Award with WIEZZ, Amsterdam.
-Studying Jazz double bass at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.
-Om Suite OM, solo performance at Lembobineuse, Marseille.
-Member of the performative youth Jazz Octet, Art Life Sahara Baby Jazz Band, Portugal.
Releasing 3 Albums and Performing at venues such as, A Trane Berlin, Unterfahrt Munich, Hot Clube, Lisbon and Fondation Cartier, Paris.
Born in 1982