The artwork: Memento Vastum
The painting Memento Vastum by Julien Boily —an oil on panel— speaks of a lost memory. Vastum (“waste” in Latin) refers to the notion of loss, to what is left behind in favour of a certain idea of progress. The tension between tradition and progress fuels this idea of multifaceted loss in Boily’s work. Loss of pictorial know-how, of course, but also of traditional knowledge which is immediately replaced by new knowledge -often in the form of information or even data. It is a recursive dynamic that is constantly accelerating. With the advent of the new, what preceded it is likely to be discarded. This notion of the vestige here overlaps with those of planned obsolescence and the vanitas genre. While in the 17th century the mirror was a recurrent element in the composition of vanitas—these still-lives evoking humanity’s fleeting nature—nowadays, our electronic devices and digital tools could be said play a similar role. Among these objects that reflect our desires, our fears and our vanity back to us, is not the Internet like a two-way mirror?
Memento Vastum is part of the Canopée Médias Collection
Inspired by the work of the old master painters of the Golden Age (17th Century), Julien Boily alters the pictorial codes of this period to represent contemporary scenes. He abandons any quest for formal invention and uses this medium for its initial function of representing the real. The painting then participates in the work as a semantic element in its own right in addition to what is represented in his paintings.