Alexandre Ouairy

1980 Nantes, France


Graduate of the National Superior Art School of Grenoble (France) in 2004, Alexandre Ouairy is a French artist who has also studied at the Arts department of Shanghai University.

Born in Nantes, this multidisciplinary artist develops an art focussed on the connections between thought processes and artistic creativity. Interested by the laws and codes that regulate the worlds of design, urbanism and social behaviour, he attempts to bypass the traditional and unalterable structures of society and of the market.

The artistic work of Alexandre Ouairy reinvents visuals codes with the aim of revealing that which cannot be seen, or offering a different perception of reality. His paintings and installations reveal his work to be not only a new visual experimentation but also a conceptual investigation.

He has taken part in exhibitions including the Lyon Biennial, GNS (Palais de Tokyo, Paris), and the Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art.

Alexandre Ouairy currently lives and works in Shanghai.

Blank Project

by Anaëlle Pirat, curator (2009)


Alexandre Ouairy is an ambitious artist. However, this is not an ambition that is attracted to financial success or the desire to obtain a particular results, but because his artworks have a social and political dimension with direct implications for reality. By developing projects that have long-term timescales and that require the participation of multiple collaborators, he creates a stage to develop political, economic, architectural and social ideas. In the context of an exhibition these ideas take the shape of models, writings and prototypes that reveal their own conceptual structures and the research on which they are based.

Alexandre Ouairy has made himself a promoter for global enterprise, conceived as a floating village on the International Sea. He has created an event company whose job is to disorganize other companies’ marketing events, as though directing a life-scale sitcom or transforming a garden into an executive assembly. Blank Project is another of his large-scale enterprises which questions the role of the artist, artworks and their environment and economic values, the legal system that protects him, and the free market which allows the artist to “have a career”.

Blank Project is a series of 100 silk-screen prints on art paper, all numbered and signed. These imprints have been produced for being sold and the contract that is signed during their acquisition defines the terms and condition of their usage. French Law defines an artist as the moral owner of his artwork, whether it is owned by a private collector or a museum. This is to say that the artist can at any moment modify or even destroy his artwork. Therefore the collector who buys a “Blank Project” is actually buying a potential future artwork. As the title indicates, the project is “blank” because it has not happened yet. The contract stipulates that the artist can at any moment revise it (through any means) or even destroy it. This is the artist’s moral right.

The collector is taking a risk: he does not know what he is actually buying, he does not know what shape the artwork will take, or if it will even continue existing in the future. So the collector does not know if his investment is a good one. Alexandre Ouairy artworks are therefore like stocks. Each Blank Project will initially have the same price and will appear to be the same, i.e. they will just be pieces of paper. The artist’s signature, which will define the artwork as his creation, is its only identification. As with any kind of listed company, Alexandre Ouairy will try to multiply his capital and develop himself. However, instead of creating physical goods, the capital provided by his investors will be used to finance his own Research and Development Department. This Research and Development Department will be tasked with creating the artworks associated with each of the Blank Projects, all of which will belong to the shareholders of the “Ouairy Company”. Though sold by an artist and bought by art collectors, these securities will not appear in traditional stock trading centers but on the art market and their values will be defined by the art market.

The market influences the aesthetic and economic value of contemporary art. This effect, in addition to an over-consumption of art, has tended to value the investment value of art over its artistic value. What is sold is not an artwork but the idea the artwork represents and its value as determined by galleries and art collectors.

Artworks are therefore the ephemeral origins of an uncertain economic and artistic destiny. However, because of the uncertainty regarding their futures, they have all of the major characteristics of speculative objects.

By making himself a company, Alexandre Ouairy participates in this nihilist side of the market economy. He does not make art as this is no longer necessary. Instead, he shows his willingness to make a profit before anything is created. The speculative object is above all himself, a young artist, rather than these non-yet- realized artworks.

He is making a seductive offer by playing with the risk addiction of collectors. By organizing high society events around Blank Project (exhibitions or shareholder parties), he gives them the sweet impression of being a part of an exclusive club. By making them owners of his enterprise, he in a way makes them responsible for his destiny. The economic system, favorable or not, which lets a company generate profits is here replaced by the collector’s motivation to increase his investment’s value by participating closely in the artist’s career. At the outset it is difficult for the collector to predict if Alexandre Ouairy’s artworks will have more value once they are realized. Added to this mix of motivations is the most unpredictable and exciting element: the artist’s desire to realize (or not) the artwork that has just been purchased.

The possibility of realization makes the concept less cynical than it would otherwise appear to be. Alexandre Ouairy re-initializes the pleasure of a collector acquiring something unique by creating a unique relational system. This system does not allow him to control the market for his artworks or the profits of his enterprise, but it does let him create an autonomous production and exchange system. And within this system he has a certain freedom independent of the greater art market, though perhaps this will make him an object of its envy.

Collective Delirium

by Angélique Demur, curator (2015)


Alexandre Ouairy’s works assembled in “The collective deliriums” is inspired by the theory Joseph Campbell developed in his work “The Hero with a Thousand and One Faces” (1949). In the latter, the author analysed reciprocal elements between classic myths and modern tales: storytelling has not changed since time began. Such archetypical narrative structures depict the hero passing through the rites of passage of a journey: the departure, the setting out, and the return. Hardships encountered along the way reveal to us the hero’s qualities.

The underlying elements also exist in visual representation, with works of art revisiting the same codes and structures. Only the wrapping, the form, changes; the meta-structure itself endures. It is these divergences between perception and reality that Alexandre Ouairy focuses on. As in the work of Jeff Koons, Xu Zhen or Pierre Huygues, the difference between the copy and the original becomes confused, as does the boundary between reality and its collective representation. But the explosion of colours in the paintings of Alexandre Ouairy, the skill and softness of his lines in both watercolours and sketches, offers as much a conceptual questioning as an original visual experimentation.


In his series of oil paintings, “The End of History”, Alexandre Ouairy condenses in an iconographic work the ancient and modern visual representations of subjects including Landscape, Power, the Hunt etc. To these cultural simulacrums, he introduces shifts in reality: glitches (digital transformation caused by lost data during a computer transfer) disturb the image. Visual interplay takes place between the image of classic art (oil painting) and digital imagery (the glitch), contrasting the traditional slowness of painting and the profusion of digital images invading our current day lives.

The watercolour series “Platinum”, the drawings “Flesh and Stone”, and the sculptures “Lifting” reveal similar plays on contrast. Starting with plaster reproductions of antique or classic sculptures, the artist covers these in no less than 70 to 80 layers of ground rubber. The up-dating of these sculptures has the function of both making more civilised and covering up the original: the act by which they achieve modernity, renders them less detailed. As with the paintings, the underlying structure persists, with only the outer wrapping undergoing transformation.

In a video work, “Auréal”, the artist arranges sequence-shots taken from makeup commercials. He only shows footage in which models appear. The artist interrogates the reciprocities in artistic structure between classic portraits and those in advertising: the previous-era portraits of wealthy individuals have been replaced by images representing the masses. Revisiting the codes of the classic or nude portrait, the woman (or her representation) both observes us and knows herself to be observed. As the original image’s aim (advertisement) is eclipsed, all that remains is, as in all of Alexandre Ouairy’s works, the reality.

Collective Delirium – Alexandre Ouairy

Collective Delirium – Alexandre Ouairy

15.00 €

Clothbound: softcover

Dimensions: 21x29.7cm

Language: English

Publisher: Alexandre Ouairy

Print date: 2014