In formal terms Bismuth's work is often based on appropriation and misappropriation. He is interested in phenomena of understanding and issues related to the production of meaning and value.
Continuing his work on the (mis)appropriation of Walt Disney's Jungle Book where he created a Babylonian, incomprehensible version of the cartoon, giving each of the characters a different idiom, Bismuth here one more time takes on Disney Studio products. The Black Paintings (2005-2008) actually use “Disney figures“ taken from children's coloring books. Whereas in the coloring books the various parts of the drawing should be covered with different colors, Bismuth, after having enlarged the motif on the canvas surface, is simply filling the surfaces with one single color: black. Adhering closely to the contours of the drawing, the brushstrokes effectively reflect the artist’s method, allowing the ghost of the original image to more or less shimmer through. The tedious painting takes place almost mechanically; the untouched surfaces still delimited by single black lines, are gradually filled with paint, finally resulting in a black monochrom.
Similar to The Jungle Book Project (2003) where Bismuth worked with misappropriation in the sense that he simply used various foreign versions of the film that had been distributed by Disney studios, he added here a distorsion by stringently applying a rule introduced by coloring books. By using only black and by making the drawing disappear, he denies the narrative content of the image and foregrounded the performative character of painting. A sort of liberating nihilism that utlimately lends simple merchandising products an almost mystic dimension.
Bismuth asked a Chinese painter, Fu Site, to reproduce as accurately as possible Erased De Kooning Drawing by using the techniques and materials from the original drawing: pencil, crayon, charcoal, oil paint and ink. This work had an antecedent, since in 2006 Bismuth had already asked Rauschenberg to roughly sketch what he remembered from the drawing that he had erased. The American artist did not oblige preventing Bismuth from inverting the historically negative gesture. Adpating his project and six months after Rauschenberg's death, Bismuth succeeded to find a way to achieve his reversal piece. By creating an image out of emptyness, Bismuth shows one more time his concern about the question of value and addresses the issue of name and signature. In so doing he not only reveals the fetish nature of art like a sheet of empty paper becoming an object of contemplation, but he also transforms Rauschenberg’s piece, which initially created a void into a space overladen with signatures – De Kooning, Rauschenberg, Fu Site and Bismuth.