A. R. T.
Introducing English-speaking readers to one of the most unusual and original voices in contemporary French culture, The Stampographer traverses the fantastic, anarchic imagination of Parisian artist Vincent Sardon, whose dark, combative sense of humor is infused with Dadaist subversion and Pataphysical play. Using rubber stamps he designs and manufactures himself, Sardon commandeers a medium often associated with petty and idiotic displays of bureaucratic power, then uses those stamps not to assert authority, but to refuse it. He scours the Parisian landscape as well as the world at large, skewering the power-hungry and the pretentious, reveling in the vulgar and profane. In The Stampographer, there are insults in multiple languages, strange Christmas ornaments, and a miniature Kamasutra. Sardon also wields the stamp as satirical device, deconstructing Warhol portraits into primary colors, turning ink blots into Pollock paint drips, and clarifying just what Yves Klein did with women’s bodies. Yet Sardon’s razor-sharp wit is tinged with the irony of his exquisite sense of beauty. The stamps are rarely static—they have an animating magic, whether boxers are punching faces out of place or dragonflies seemingly hover over the page. Sardon’s work is provocative in its subject matter as well as in its process and dissemination: he not only stands defiantly outside the art world’s modes of commerce but his artworks (the rubber stamps themselves) are actually the means with which anyone can make a work of their own. Vincent Sardon is a radically independent artist in Paris who makes and sells his work in a little shop and studio near the Père Lachaise cemetery in the eleventh arrondissment. He began his career as political cartoonist for the left-wing Libération then, disillusioned, he set out on his own to make rubber stamps, of which he’s now made hundreds. He has an ardent cult following in France following the illustrious comic book press L’Association publication of Le Tampographe, a four-year journal narrating his artistic life and work, which is now in its third printing.