The Address is delighted to present: “The distant smell of a black locust, the silent dance of a ghost in the visiting room” by New York-based French visual artist Édouard Nardon.

This exhibition features fiftheen new paintings created over the past three years and represents his second solo-exhibition at the gallery.

Although they may be seen purely as exercises in abstraction, Nardon’s paintings start from precise, figurative compositions based on personal fixations. Numerous small sketches on paper preface his work on unprimed canvases stapled onto the west facing walls of his Brooklyn studio. The paintings begin to render as Nardon outlines and composes the repeated motions of a chosen sketch, utilizing materials like marble dust, gesso, and raw pigments. He then proceeds to reduce and augment the work through a degree of unconscious separation, liberating himself from the initial and literal meanings from where he originally started. At a certain point the accumulations begin to assume form, within their own symbolic dimensions, as the artist begins to elaborate. Each seemingly disparate layer maintains a distance from the next, relating at times in conflict and others in harmony. The pictorial gestures made in and between each layer are comprised of contrasting brush strokes; starting broad and wide, then covered with meticulous mark making.

In addition to detail at the level of composition, Nardon’s works also conceptually consider the elements with which they are constructed. His color palette epitomizes the fundamental stages of the ancient alchemical quest of Magnum Opus, consisting of Nigredo (black), Albedi (white), Citrinitas (yellow), Rubedo (red), and Cauda Pavonis (Peacock’s Tail Blue).

The references implied within this palette construct and combine with the artist’s memories from his upbringing, building subjectivity and motif in a manner related to the meaning-making techniques of the Neo-Impressionists. Specific memory is referenced obliquely, nodding towards his early adventures in the boroughs of his youth and the scent of locust trees—from notions of solitude and confinement to the distant call of the Atlantic horizon.

These memories manifest in the paintings like ghosts, shadows and faceless figures materialized through conscious and unconscious gestures, controlled lines, and moments in which the irrational takes over and shows the artist a path not previously considered. There is a thematic return to the idea of origin from a synthesis, of a constant encounter, an intense workout: the well worn battle between agency and discovery, the conscious and subconscious, the ordinary and the strange.

Each work, despite being structured in multiple layers, contains a sole subject creating a consistency across the collection that foreshadows Nardon’s enigmatic formula. The philosopher’s stone as a frantic search made of continuous efforts, some well-executed, others unsuccessful and therefore destroyed. Nardon’s foundations, resolute in their clarity, persistently allow for an invisible presence, whether ghostly, painterly or memorial, in order to establish a connection and take us into the painter’s own idiosyncratic diegetic synthesis.

Secrets of a loud city, I once traced with my forefinger on a dull mirror;
for the shadow of a lost shadow, that once danced with grace under the pale dome.
I never knew, I never knew!
Some fragile memories have vanished, like drops of orange blossom essence in the curve of a long stemmed glass left near the bed.
A spectral mask is smiling at me with compassion; I remember that smell.
The immense contour of an ancient bird is slowly swallowed by the distant crimson dusk. His face is a column of cobalt flames and fountains of chlorine are flowing upward from the tips of his crystal wings. Remember, hidden in a plexiglass box, an oxidized treasure is buried in his chest.

On the third floor, a neon halo is projecting cerulean figures on the plaster walls of this unachieved room. >Someone is waiting in the center, wrapped in a nylon tracksuit.
Cheekbones filled with timid whispers,
crossed legs,
crossed fingers,
crossed eyes,
gold cross on a convex plexus; another ghost, probably.

Ambitious visions of eternity abandoned in a cotton ball, are you still asleep?
22:22, The five bars of black steel are slowly bending as eyelashes connect.
Have you forgotten already? And the smell of the false acacia in the evening zephyr?
Seven thorns are stuck along the girdle of Venus. I extracted them one by one, and will use my pierced palm as a protective screen to watch the sunrise in a few hours.
Clouds that look like faces; their mouths are open doors with no destination. Where do their chants go astray?
A waltz in the visiting room with the jaws full of soft petals. They are gone already but the fool is still dancing.
I never knew, I never knew. But I remember that smell.

(Édouard Nardon, New York City, April 2023)