Théo Mercier

Gᴖᴗdworld Studio+Company

Mirror Error

Mirror Error

Galerie mor charpentier, Paris, France
2 septembre – 30 septembre 2023

For his second solo show at gallery mor charpentier, Théo Mercier questions the role of the archetypal object and the place of the artist halfway between curator, laboratory technician and cybernaut. Through a series of original wall works, deeply informed by artistic references, he challenges traditional representations of portraiture and landscape, and creates complex visual narratives that explore notions of time, identity and adaptation.

Some twenty acid-etched mirrors are displayed on the gallery’s two levels, from which emerge photographs of famous antique statues. The chemical treatment of the surface and the arrangement of the composition are such that fragments of the sculptures are superimposed on the viewer’s image, blurring the boundaries between past and present, static and dynamic, art and life, and prompting reflection on the fluidity of identity and the continuum of history and data. The tradition of mirrors in art goes beyond their simple reflective function; artists have often used these symbolic objects to explore the human condition, offering viewers a glimpse into their own psyche through self-portraits or capturing the essence of their subjects. But rather than invoking the classical paintings of Van Eyck or Velázquez, in which the mirror is a means of achieving realism or creating optical illusion, the series Facetime seems closer to the Pop Art movement, with its fascination for popular imagery and the combination of disparate elements to produce visually striking, thought-provoking works. For Mercier, the fragmentation of these marble bodies is also a reference to the looting campaigns that gave rise to most antique collections: they are fragments torn from their homeland, mythologized, and kept in the fictional places that museums represent. By choosing a particular framing on the surface of each mirror – which does not allow a complete view of its surroundings, but a simple selection – he accentuates this idea of the incomplete picture and the missing part, to hack the subjective and artificial construction of History. In some works, the artist goes a step further by combining photographs with 3D elements, thus creating chimeras of sorts, mutant creatures that have evolved to survive the passage of time: here, a lock of hair is transformed into a fossil; there, a ventilation grid is implanted in the back of a skull, as if to supply it with air. These questions of grafting, mutation and obsolescence run through all Théo Mercier’s work, which is itself in constant transformation. Here, the artist takes on the role of the scientist in his laboratory – dissecting and assembling, creating rebus – and through these combinations of past, present and future, he invites visitors to reflect on their own capacity to adapt in a constantly changing world.

The exhibition is completed by three collections of hand-painted stones and poems, arranged on glass and brushed aluminum shelves that recall ultra-contemporary mirror frames and once again evoke this clash of temporalities. In this series entitled Tell me a scorie, stone is the starting point for this project: the sculptor’s raw material, it embodies our fantasies of weight and eternity, and also refers to the artist’s more intimate collecting practice. Almost every day, whether he’s in Paris, Marseille, Los Angeles, Mexico City or Tasmania, he spends time walking and collecting stones – natural or man-made. With their multitude of sizes, shapes and colors, they stimulate and accompany his thoughts and visions, and become objects charged with music. And it’s no coincidence that the series Tell Me a Scorie remind us of music scores; they initiate a certain choreography of the eye and bring rhythm to the exhibition space. Like the mirrors, the stone collections are part of a long artistic tradition, that of the cabinets of curiosities or the rocks of Chinese scholars – these “natural ready-mades”, as Malraux called them. By embracing the work of collecting and classifying, Théo Mercier embodies the figure of the curatorial artist who not only creates, but extracts, archives and arranges. However, and this is his singularity, he does so without ever establishing a hierarchy: in his works, a vestige of the Roman Forum may stand alongside a sea-polished pebble or the cobblestone of a Parisian building site. There’s a kind of horizontality in values, between the natural and the artificial, the ancient and the contemporary, the vulgar and the precious. Here, stones are brought together for their purely plastic quality and because they evoke a form of post-industrial geology. Together, they create mineral landscapes that evoke the great ruins of the past and the more modest ruins of everyday objects.

Through the interplay of images, materials and cultural references, Théo Mercier’s Mirror Error unfolds a large-scale, fragmented fresco that creates a veritable dynamic of the gaze and questions our perception of the world. The exhibition thus becomes a place of awareness and reflection, encouraging visitors to adapt to the changes of our times and consider the implications of our collective actions on the future.

Arthur Gruson

Image credits

François Doury

Théo Mercier

Gᴖᴗdworld Studio+Company



Théo Mercier

Assistant Artist
Rémi Gaubert, Théo Jouffroy, Etienne Marc, Shanna Waroquier

Letter painting
Tiphaine Buhot-Launay

Cassandra Michel

Arthur Gruson

Studio Manager
Céline Peychet

Tour dates