Light IV
21 November 2019–05 January 2020 | Dirimart

Michel Comte

For his first solo exhibition in Turkey, Dirimart presents a new body of large-scale installations, expanding upon Michel Comte’s exploration of the impact of environmental decline on our glacial landscapes and oceans and the need for collective action.

Michel Comte: “At a moment when Switzerland has just bid farewell to the Pizol glacier and when it is estimated that 90% of the entire glacier volume in the European Alps may be lost by 2100, my work here shows us the effects of global warming and emphasizes how much we all need to respond to this.”

A monumental, twenty-meter-long and nearly three-meter-high oxidized steel wall, painted with over sixty layers of black ink and salt dust will dominate the main gallery space. Entitled Glacier Terminus, the work references the end point of a glacier at any given time and also serves as a reminder that glaciers are always either advancing or receding, in a process of endless motion. The mass of Glacier Terminus reflects the physical and emotional impact of an actual glacier in Spitsbergen that Comte has visited on several occasions, while the dripping, caking, and ruptures of slight white and blue on the surface are reminiscent of the magnificence of such a glacier seen from close up; the black and rust ultimately return us to the irreversible traces of mankind’s effect upon nature.

Comte associates his use of pure black pigment with the dust (cryoconite) that has settled on so many of the world’s melting glaciers, blown in by strong winds and accelerating the ice’s melting process; it can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the decay currently happening in many of the icy areas of the world.

Black Erosion, a wooden sculpture painted with black ink and carbon and consisting of a pile of eleven totemic wooden slabs of up to nearly four meters in length, will fill an adjacent room. This piece is based upon the phenomena of tree carcasses which have fallen due to glacial erosion and been left to corrode and slowly disintegrate into each other. These fallen bodies are frequently washed up and can be seen in the lakes and valleys of glacial landscapes.
For the first time, Comte will exhibit a series of thirteen paintings depicting glacier rifts. Executed in Japanese ink on transparent paper, these black and white paintings resemble in detail a glacial wall but in fact reveal the large cracks that appear in the surface of a glacier before the very dangerous point at which large sections break off and fall into the sea.
Supporting these major works will be three pigment paintings in red and white. Comte has spoken about how the red pigment in these works is an indication of the polluted and highly toxic rain that falls in many places of the world, the water having turned red from chemicals, which have leaked into it. The white color refers to the melted glacier itself.