One is a Minimalist artist who has reduced painting to repeated, regularly spaced imprints of a n° 50 paintbrush, the other a conceptual artist who began his career as a scientist. Niele Toroni (b. Muralto, Switzerland, 1937) and Paul-Armand Gette (b. Lyon, France, 1927) are now joining forces to create a work of art in the Triton Room at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. They have found a shared interest in an obvious theme: the eroticism of the female body.
Gette and Toroni discovered the title and inspiration for their exhibition when they visited the museum: the word ‘Tritonkabinet’ (Triton Room) is already inscribed above the door of the gallery in which they are to deploy their artistic talents. In Greek mythology, Triton is a marine deity, the son of Poseidon. In the visual arts, tritons are often represented in the company of their father and sea nymphs. But the two artists’ thought processes also led them to the Triturus, a small type of newt, and – via the water nymphs – to the Nymphaea alba, the white water lilies that grow in the pond in front of the Gemeentemuseum.
As one of the founders of the avant-garde Parisian BMPT group (standing for Buren, Mosset, Parmentier and Toroni), Niele Toroni quickly made a name for himself in the international art world of the 1970s, when there was a strong focus on Minimalism. He is now one of the movement’s best-known representatives, although he has never fully identified with it since, unlike many other Minimalists, he has never abandoned painting. Indeed, he may be said to practise the purest form of it, constantly using the same method of making repeated imprints of a no. 50 paintbrush at regular 30 cm intervals. His works of art are the result of the application of this method to a specific situation in a specific place. Toroni had a retrospective at the Gemeentemuseum in 1993 and created, especially for the museum, the work still to be seen in one of the staircases: empreintes de pinceau n° 50 répétées à intervalles réguliers de 30 cm – Omaggio.
Paul-Armand Gette is regularly regarded as a conceptual artist, but the key focus in his work is less on reducing the work of art to a concept than on the link between art and science. He trained originally as a biologist and geologist and made a promising start to a scientific career as head of a laboratory. Slowly but surely, however, he began to find science claustrophobic: it was too narrow for him. In order to be able to focus on the poetry of science, he transferred his attention to art. However, his fascination with nature is still clearly reflected in his work, which incorporates highly disparate elements drawn from science, the visual arts and literature.
This will be the third collaboration by Paul-Armand Gette and Niele Toroni on a joint installation. Their two earlier collaborations were at the Sollertis gallery in Toulouse and at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes.