The Dizzying Void: A journey into lenticular art

Perhaps these glimpses of the dizzying void are informed by Raymond Quai’s dreams of fantasy worlds. Halfway between science and art, sweeping curves are decked with substance and colour. The contemporary technique of lenticular printing has superseded the hologram: thirty images per picture, formats close to six feet in height, shimmering with texture and movement. No longer merely contemplative, the viewer’s eye becomes an agent, creating the artwork it  beholds. But the artist remains in total control: by arranging and lighting the tableau in a particular way, he builds the worlds he wishes to share with us.

Interlocking mechanisms and dislocated chain links jangle and clank like cold iron. Cast aside and left where they lie, they are overgrown by resurgent vegetation. Patches of green appear amid the rust and lichen: life struggles to return. Traces of a lost, post-industrial era, these abandoned materials begin their march towards a new world, recycling themselves in a perpetual process of new beginning.

But Quai’s work isn’t all about cold, hard materials: other works are more organic and take us into the world of the infinitely small and the infinitely large. Coral reefs, ships or DNA sequences lead us into unknown territories. Vivid yellows and purples produce a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of plunging into the abyss. We don’t need a microscope: we find ourselves at the very core of a structure, stowaways on a constantly morphing vessel. We are irresistibly tempted to reach out and touch these velvety, granular surfaces.

The exhibition ends in a futuristic labyrinth of fluorescent colours, somewhere between Lego, Pop Art and video games. We lose ourselves in brick mazes and slide down endless flumes. Our final destination? Perhaps the Cosmos, or perhaps memory cards and electronic circuit boards. In Raymond Quai’s metaphorical or real Big Bang, worlds are reinvented: each exploding universe swallows another, and a new one is born.

Raymond Quai was born in 1961 in Angers, France, and studied at the city’s school of fine arts; he has lived and worked in Paris since 1987. His passion for computers has naturally led him to focus on 3D imaging and new technologies. 

From 16 May to 13 June 2011 GALERIE BE-ESPACE presented the virtual world of lenticular art, showcasing 10 backlit pieces by Raymond Quai.  Rough materials and swirling vortices of colour intertwine in 3D images took the viewer into fascinating new worlds.