GEORGE HENRY LONGLY

George Henry Longly’s new exhibition at Valentin, The Smile of a Snake, takes its name from a language tutorial emphasising the pronunciation of the letter “s”. A phonetic exercise forlearning English as a foreign language it also highlights problems withthe physical materialisation of language. A lisp also known as sigmatism, is a speech impediment in which a person misarticulates sibilant sounds. This exercise evokes how language, on one level, is the physical process of testing boundaries and forming sounds though the body.

“S” is also the shape of the serpent, whose flexibility and musculature evoke language. A liminal motif in Longly’s work, the snake is a communication tool used in humanity’s most ancient rituals. Semiotically ambivalent, a pharmakon representing both purity and corruption, flexibility and immobility—fundamental intensities of the artist’s plastic research. Its cerebral nature comes into tension with the inevitably visceral, irrational reactions it provokes in people.

Built as an immersive environment, The Smile of the Snake plays upon this analogy between the physical and semiotic materialisation of language and that of the plastic shaping process, from the perspective of how these operations relate to the demarcation of internal and external spaces, of meaning and sensation. Here, references to industrial rationality and to the structuring systems of architecture, language and the body’s morphology come into tension with internal perceptions / affections such as those provoked by colour, smells and sound.

Text by Clara Guislain

 

03-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

05-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

07-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

08-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

09-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

10-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

11-6200-GHL_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD

Exhibition view “The smile of a snake” Valentin, Paris, France, 2016, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8198_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_01

George Henry Longly “Touch it, bring it, babe, watch it Turn it, leave it, stop, format it Touch it, bring it, babe, watch it Turn it, leave it, stop, format it”, 2016, Polyurethane resin; plasma cut, water jet cut, routered and sprayed aluminium sheet, 57 3/32 x 32 9/32 x 18 5/16 Inch, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8198_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_03

George Henry Longly, “Touch it, bring it, babe, watch it Turn it, leave it, stop, format it Touch it, bring it, babe, watch it Turn it, leave it, stop, format it”, 2016, Polyurethane resin; plasma cut, water jet cut, routered and sprayed aluminium sheet, 57 3/32 x 32 9/32 x 18 5/16 Inch, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8198_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_07

detail, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8199_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_04

George Henry Longly, “Our Love will last forever”, 2016, Copper plated steel sheet and rebar table, water jet cut aluminium, Santa Maria Novella pot pourri, cocktail spoon, spoon brass, 37 63/64 x 19 11/16 Inch, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8199_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_06

detail, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8200_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_03

George Henry Longly, “Dark Lady”, 2016, Welded aluminium box section, water jet cut and pearlescent sprayed aluminium, 54 59/64 x 31 1/2 x 25 19/32 Inch, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

2015x8200_©Sylvie_Chan-Liat_BD_05

detail, © Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris.

Links for the exhibition’s sound (extracts from the show version)

 

Valentin Paris
GEORGE HENRY LONGLY
« The Smile of a Snake »
January 21 to March 12, 2016
9, rue Saint Gilles
75003 Paris