Tribute to Gaetano Pesce (1939-2024) by François-Xavier Courrèges (sentimental fx)

Gaetano Pesce's work has played a significant role in my artistic and emotional development. I discovered him in 1996 through his exhibition "Le temps des questions" at the Centre Pompidou. This belongs to a generation of exhibitions fundamental to my awakening to contemporary art and design ("Hors limites, L'art et la vie", "L'Hiver de l'amour", "Féminin - Masculin, Le sexe de l'art", "Le temps, vite") which took place in this museum among others, and nurtured my aspirations to develop my own practice as a visual artist. Gaetano's universe echoed my preoccupations and left its mark on my aesthetic imagination, culminating in 2011 in the production of the video "Le Sentiment d'aventure" (exhibited at the time by Galerie Sultana), in which a one-off cast of my foot in black icicle is melting to disappear in an opaque puddle. This sculpture is directly inspired by the UP7 model, an oversized foot-shaped chaise longue in polyurethane foam produced by C&B. In addition, the title refers to the irreversibility of time examined by Jean-Paul Sartre in "La Nausée", a theme shared in our respective works. Over the years, I've built up a collection of objects, prototypes and documentation around his work, so when my passion for design came to the fore and I became a dealer, Gaetano's work immediately took center stage. 

His prolific output spans several decades and is divided between studio practice, numerous collaborations with publishers and manufacturers, and, of course, architectural projects. He has consistently succeeded in transposing an artisanal mode of production to larger-scale mass production, while retaining certain specific features of the one-off piece. I'm particularly moved by his creative gesture, which is characterized by the fusion of art and design, and by utilitarian objects that play with the notion of functionality. Beyond their anthropomorphic and organic forms, I'd say there's something alive in his pieces, not only thanks to the humanist messages they embody, but probably also to the great sensitivity with which the material is manipulated, guided, accepting the random, sometimes the accidental. Resin and other petrochemical products have become inseparable from his experimental work. Like human beings, each creation is different, with its flaws and imperfections, a certain fragility emanating from it, and its physical properties subject to change. At his workshop, I understood his words as a kind of philosophy: "As long as you are satisfied with the form and it remains functional, all is well in our world". 

In my exhibitions, I combine his pieces with other rather minimalist creations, all equally radical and sculptural in dimension. Often, simplicity rubs shoulders with the spectacular, a construction in which I strive to strike a balance and strip away desire. Gaetano liked my curatorial approach and asked me to make 3 chairs for my stand at Paul Bert. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to complete the project... I'm sure I'll extend the idea in another way.  

To pay tribute to him, and given the circumstances, I'd like to highlight a symbolic personal object, since it was my first acquisition: a brooch, rare on the market at the time of the Beaubourg exhibition, on which the emblematic message inscribed seems indelible: AIME-MOI (LOVE ME).