Skeleton Closet, exposition personnelle de Maxime Testu

Skeleton Closet, exposition personnelle de Maxime Testu

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Accueilli au sein des écoles de Denain et Lille au cours de la saison 2019-2020, Maxime Testu présente pour cette fin de résidence au CAPV l’exposition SKELETON CLOSET.

Maxime Testu est lauréat du programme de soutien à la création contemporaine ARCHIPEL soutenu par la Drac Hauts-de-France et le Conseil Départemental du Pas-de-Calais. Ce projet piloté par le Frac Grand Large – Hauts-de-France associe les écoles d’arts de Boulogne-sur-Mer, du Calaisis, de Denain et de Lille.

Puisant dans l’héritage poétique d’une vision de l’artiste bohème et maudit sublimée au cours du XIXe siècle, Maxime Testu en propose une mise à jour à l’ère du 2.0, attentif au contexte socio-économique et politique dans lequel il travaille. Vacillant sans cesse entre caricatures et vanités, entre moquerie et vanité, ces œuvres questionnent la précarité du statut de l’artiste et la confusion qui en émane entre sphère privée et sphère publique, espace domestique et espace de travail.

Du 27 septembre au 17 octobre 2020
du mercredi au vendredi de 14h30 à 18h30, samedi de 14h à 18h, 
dimanche de 10h30 à 13h30
Entrée libre, conditions d’accès 
Port du masque obligatoire à partir de 11 ans.
Individuels : Visites gratuites sur réservation
Groupes visites commentées gratuites sur réservation
au 03 20 54 71 84 ou


The pursuit of a better version of one’s self is at the heart of Maxime Testu’s practice. Taking his personal experience as a starting point, he addresses the elephant in the room – or rather the one that crowds his own mind – and studio – daily : how can he, as an artist, live up to the myth of the isolated creative genius producing groundbreaking art? Should one even subscribe to such lofty narratives? 

The result is a body of work that is as subtly ironic as it is seriously eye-opening, and deeply relatable. It offers a figurative take on the haunting awareness that one can always do better, be better, whilst affectionately mocking the sense of impending doom that is so pervasive in our contemporary visual culture. Perfection cannot be reached, and that is our common curse.

Stripping the human figure of social constructs like gender, wealth and identity, Maxime Testu invites us in a liminal visual space where the subject is barren, and takes us straight to the essential: the skeleton becomes the incarnation – minus the flesh – of the soul at work. 

Drawing his inspiration from iconic romanticist painter Carl Spitweg* and the father of French illustrated satyre Honoré Daumier*, Testu resorts to the bygone practice of etching to create allegoric self-portraits in isolation, referring as much to the recently imposed lockdown we endured collectively-and-alone, as to his own experience with self-discipline. His etchings (10x20cm) are little windows into intimate realms of solitude.

His lacy skeleton figures are thus revealed to us in what can initially seem to be anachronistic postures – they are checking their phones, watching movies, sending emojis to each other or protesting for equality online. What Testu is really doing is bringing these characters from a bygone figurative era to the forefront of our hyper-connected 21st Century social experience, brilliantly bridging the gap between the delicacy of the slow, reflective practice of etching and our current frenetic obsession with spontaneous, immediate creation and communication. We can all recognise ourselves in their tragic pursuits.

The notion of self discipline and work on one’s self is at the heart of his etchings and is also the starting point for his sculptures: there is a common thread with the men who seek refuge in the closeted space of the gym to cultivate their bodies in the hope of saving their souls. 

What fascinates Maxime Testu is the ways in which we are made to take part in the experience of spectacle, of physical performance – which is most perfectly exemplified by the ecosystem of the GYM. We find ourselves, as viewers, catapulted into this highly performative setting where everyone is as fascinated by the other s’ bodies, as by their own figures. 

It is exquisitely ironic to place these dry, flimsy silhouettes in this context, which is so obviously directed at life, the body, flesh. By associating such distant visual vocabularies, he reminds us that the skeleton is the scaffolding that structures the softness of our bodies and that whether we like it or not, “skeletons r us”. 

Francesca Sabatini

CLOSET RIDDLES par Francesca Sabatini


There once was a man at the gym

He looked at his muscles and grinned 

He added a pound

His bones made a sound

And never was seen there again 


There once was a gym for the soul

It made you work out 

There was no place for doubt

True love was the members’ real goal


There was a young man at the gym

He looked in the mirror and grinned

His muscles were gold 

He never got old 

And that was real beauty to him 


There once was a man in LA

He never had much stuff to say 

He loved to work out

But never went out

His favorite food was purée 


There once was a man who forgot

If his face had freckles or not

He searched in his brain

And fell in disdain 

He couldn’t remember his name


There once was a man with no skin

They wouldn’t stop laughing at him 

His bones were all blue

He only ate glue

He wanted to learn how to swim


There once was a man with a lisp

And yet he was handsome and crisp

His friends didn’t know 

It was all just for show 

The secret was what made him exist


Gyms are the places where boys 

Pretend they’re not playing with toys 

But what they all do 

Is secretly cue 

To live out their muscly joys 


There once was a man who believed 

His secrets were safe if he pleased

He shoved them inside 

A closet so wide 

He barely could see the past its sides 


There once was a boy who could see

Beyond what he thought was beauty 

He saw each one’s soul 

And fell in a hole 

He could not live superfluously

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Date And Time

27/09/2020 - 14:30 to
17/10/2020 - 18:30

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