Raphael Zarka

Raphael Zarka

Le Grand Café – Contemporary Art Centre

Le Tombeau d’Archimède à Syracuse, circa 1880, anonymous photograph.

October 8, 2011

Raphael Zarka

LE GRAND CAFÉ, Contemporary art centre, Saint-Nazaire (F)
Place des Quatre z’horloges
44 600 Saint-Nazaire, France
Opening hours:
Tue–Sun, 2 p.m.–7 p.m
Wed: 11a.m.–7p.m
Free Entry


‘Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed’: echoing the famous maxim attributed to the chemist and philosopher Antoine Lavoisier, Raphaël Zarka’s practice interrogates the slippages and migrations of geometric forms through history. We could say that he “encounters” these forms as a researcher and a curious collector, samples them and connects them according to a logic that is both intuitive and philosophical. So whether he is drawing on art, science, culture or industry, Raphaël Zarka designates the particular troubling coincidences or other geometric resurgences that mark out periods and fields of knowledge.

His approach to forms and materials is not unlike the practice of skateboarding, which he has in fact been documenting for many years. His position is anthropological (La Conjonction interdite, 2003) and historical (Une journée sans vague, 2006), but above all sculptural (Free Ride : skateboard, mécanique galiléenne et formes simples, 2011), in which he analyses the relationship of skaters to urban space and their way of “operating a kind of edit out of the diversity of materials and forms offered by the city.”

In the series Les Formes du repos (2001–2011), the artist pursues a similar inquiry: his shots of concrete objects, industrial forms isolated in an often overgrown natural context, stand as fortuitous sculptures that encounter the complex geometry of rhombicuboctahedra, haunt a Leonardo da Vinci drawing or reappear in a Galileo mechanical study. For Raphaël Zarka, these geometric volumes feed into a founding corpus: he replicates them and articulates their grammar in the form of sculptures marked by the after-image of a renewed minimal aesthetic.

Apparently formalist, his recent works remain the products of an amateur’s curiosity, permitting itself all media and inviting the public to a non-linear reading of the history of art. For if the ancient schemas of mathematicians reinject meaning into our reading of abstract sculpture; from constructivism to 1960s minimalism the inverse is also true, with skateboarding as the backcloth and an obstinate quest for movement, for the spatial and temporal loop…

Titling the exhibition he has conceived for Saint-Nazaire Le Tombeau d’Archimède, Raphaël Zarka details the researches he carried out during his residency at the Villa Medici in Rome this year: a new stage in the exploration of geometric forms out of which flow several new productions leading us to seek out invisible links between painting and sculpture. Archimedes appears here as a tutor, an engineer and a key figure in the history of polyhedra. Around him, Raphaël Zarka brings together sculptures, replicas and photographs as multiple fragments of a single open narrative, both fictional and documentary, wherein a subjective archaeology invents itself out of citation, reprise and sampling.

Curator: Sophie Legrandjacques, director of Le Grand Café

Le Grand Café is co-publishing Raphaël Zarka’s most recent edition Free ride: skateboard, mécanique galiléenne et formes simples (Edition. B42). To appear in September 2011, with the support of le Centre national des arts plastiques (Support to edition), le Ministère de la Culture et de la communication, le Grand Café, Frac Franche-Comté, Michel Rein Gallery, Paris and Carhatt


Raphaël Zarka in conversation
December 4th
Free entrance

2 p.m Screening of the film Topographie anecdotée du skateboard, 2008
at Cinéville, 5 Avenue de la légion d’honneur, Saint-Nazaire

3p.m Raphaël Zarka presents his most recent edition Free Ride: Skateboard, mécanique galiléenne et formes simples (éd. B42)
at Le Grand Café

LE GRAND CAFÉ, Contemporary art centre, Saint-Nazaire (F)
Place des Quatre z’horloges, 44 600 Saint-Nazaire – France
T + 33 (0)2 44 73 44 00 – F + 33 (0)2 44 73 44 01

Raphael Zarka
RSVP for Raphael Zarka
Le Grand Café – Contemporary Art Centre
October 8, 2011

Thank you for your RSVP.

Le Grand Café – Contemporary Art Centre will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for subscribing to e-flux

Feel free to subscribe to additional content from the e-flux platform.