The house painting company THAT’S PAINTING Productions, established in the United States in 1989, restored the gallery’s framed panels from April 3 until April 5, 2017. The Sorbonne Artgallery initiative has already made use of these panels, by proposing a new exhibition or artistic project every month, since January 2017. The commission for THAT’S PAINTING plays an important role in the programming of the critical enterprises (Artistes-entreprises) that question economic and social issues, and particularly our society’s relationship to art.
Bernard Brunon created his house painting business in 1989 in Houston, Texas. The founding of this business is the result of a gradual research process in order to “paint without producing an image”. Student in the studio of Claude Viallat at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, Bernard Brunon pushes the deconstruction of the painting enterprise to the extreme through the avant-garde movement Supports/Surfaces in the 1970s. His studio work, an attempt to paint outside the codes of representation, led him to house painting: he very recently stated that while painting a wall, even though the gestures, tools and materials are the same, the result is a painting that isn’t a painting. This painting exists in real space, and not in the representative space of painting (work of art). Bernard Brunon integrates, through his practice and his business, the art of life, by eliminating the boundary between the represented and the means of representation.
The organization of an efficient company is also a deconstruction of the cliché of the romantic artist, opposed by the collective imagination to follow a capitalist organization of the company. After working more or less alone in the beginning, Bernard Brunon was led to structure the activity of THAT’S PAINTING Productions. He functions like any house painting company, employing up to a dozen painters in 2005. Whether the client is a private individual, a gallery director, or an exhibition curator, the approach stays the same: THAT’S PAINTING Productions proposes a conscientious job, at an affordable price and in the respected timeframe. Bernard Brunon’s company therefore questions the relationship that the artist, the viewer, and the art market have to the economic and symbolic value of the artworks produced.
The company is currently considering its dissolution with the retirement of its founder Bernard Brunon. Law professors and students at the university were solicited to provide a legal counsel on the perspectives regarding the perpetuation of this artistic activity, and will be presented in the gallery.
An interview of Bernard Brunon was filmed for the ANR (National Research Agency) ABRIR project and is available in continuation of this exhibition, below.
Sorbonne Artgallery thanks Stephen Wright and Jérôme Dupin for their advice.
The Sorbonne Artgallery isn’t really the type of space that That’s Painting is used to encountering. There are no walls, just rectangular white-surfaced panels in metal frames. When Yann Toma invited me to show there, I couldn’t see what would be the point of bringing in That’s Painting Productions, a house painting company, into this context. The wood panels covered in melamine couldn’t accept the paint or, at the very least, not for very long. On the other hand, a more extensive observation revealed that these panels were covered with various adhesive residues, transparent and double-sided tape, fragments of torn posters, etc. and seriously needed to be cleaned. The intervention of That’s Painting Productions then made all the sense in the world: it was necessary to complete a conscientious repair of the panels’ surfaces.
Since 1988, the painting company has been responsible for proposing to clients, individuals or institutions, quality house painting services. And the one condition that I held myself to, when someone asks me to show in a gallery or in a museum, is to intervene only in order to respond to a real need for house painting. It seemed ridiculous to me to come in and put a layer of paint on the wall of a gallery or a museum room simply to say that That’s Painting created a work of art. This contradicted the company’s ethic, which operated for nearly 30 years like a real house painting company, employing up to a dozen professional painters, serving his clients first in Houston, then in Los Angeles.”
Bernard Brunon, discussing his intervention in the Sorbonne Artgallery, April 2017