Richard Baquié

1952, Marseilles – 1996, Marseilles


The work of Richard Bacquié, who passed away (too) early at the age of 44, is rarely to be seen these days. His practice, often described through his installations and assemblages of objects and things retrieved from the garbage dumps of his native city, Marseille, earned him a label which he refused: that of a “subtle handyman” (bricoleur). The fact is that for this erstwhile welder, truck driver, crane assemblyman, and driving-school monitor, who graduated at an advanced age from the Marseille School of Fine Arts, his works could not be summed up as formal feats. It was probably not without a smile that he described them as “B-sculptures”. He did not like the permanence of objects and played with tensions between materiality, fragility and movement. He started out, incidentally, by installing, in 1982, a helium-filled balloon for the opening of his studio (Ballon-Evénement du 29 mars 1982). What runs through his work is, above all, a special and poetic relation to the world, wavering between a desire to hold time down, and freeze existential roaming. There are words, too, which form a matter just like others; they conjure up displacements and periods of time, where past and present take opposing directions and rub shoulders with an everlasting recommencement.
In Epsilon (1986), the wreck of a rusty, burnt-out Renault 16 (icon of the family car and of French industrial success in the 1960s) faces four large letters cut out of corrugated iron. We can read the word: ZERO. An echo of the title, mathematical symbol of a quantity approaching nothingness, and the letters cut out of the coachwork, which say: “Nothing, just the memory of light”. A small globe revolves slowly in the front of the car. With R. Bacquié, there was always geography and the physical, political and mental spaces it infers. On the wall we can make out “7,6,5,4,3…”, while a large fan blocking the right hand front door, makes the sculpture vibrate violently, amid a cataclysmic din. Be it with fans or refrigeration units, R. Bacquié’s works create their own motions, explosions, desires, and climatic cycles.
Un jour ici ou là (1991) takes us through an ink wash background that has run, recalling the violent nature of life in its ongoing degeneration and regeneration. In his earliest sculptures, the movement of bodies is caught in a “traverse of the present” (La Traversée du Présent, 1985), whose direction is never linear. The material substance becomes as cinematographic as looking through a train window: “Situation of the wind…/Words are lost. Often they are just the projection of your own seduction…/ Sometimes silence…” (Autrefois il prenait souvent le train pour travestir son inquietude en lassitude/ He often used to take the train to disguise his anxiety as weariness, 1984).

Autrefois il prenait souvent le train pour travestir son inquiétude en lassitude, 1984

Frac Bretagne

Metal connector, train compartment window mounted on two legs, electro-luminescent diode system, bellows, wire mesh cage, two fans, sheet of chipboard, corrugated metal tip, station trolley casters

Centre Pompidou, Paris
Musée national d’art moderne / Centre de création industrielle


Epsilon, 1986

Halle de la Courrouze

Carbonized Renault 16, metal, globe

Collection Jean Brolly, Paris


La Traversée du Présent, 1986

Halle de la Courrouze

Sun lounger, engine, drill, washing machine drum, metal arrow, plastic

Carré d’Art, Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes


Un jour ici ou là, 1991

Frac Bretagne

Wash drawing and resin letters glued on paper

Centre Pompidou, Paris Musée national d’art moderne / Centre de création industrielle