Christine Boillat, Stéphanie Jeannet, Isabelle Ménéan, Pierre Thoma / Other realities

6th June - 19th July 2015

Suspended between dream and reality, Christine Boillat’s drawings speak of life, death and transformation.  Darkness and light vie for the leading role, dissolving tree- and plant-like forms into ghostly presences as they pass.  Against this ephemeral decor, the light from strings of bulbs hanging from branches makes the air vibrate with a luminescence as mysterious as the brightness of fireflies.  Their light seems to penetrate the soil and tree bark and illuminate them from inside.  Time stops in these deserted fairy-tale forests.  Although, looking more closely, human presences haunt the place.  There are faceless people perched on stilts, a crashed car with its lights on, a circus radiating light in the middle of nowhere.  Ghosts or spirits, they roam between the darkness of death and the light of rebirth helped by the labour of thousands of flies who populate the site in a deaf swarm.  All these elements join to create a cycle of life and death in perpetual movement, made of shade and light, a fabulous metaphor of existence.

Stéphanie Jeannet’s drawings open the door to a parallel dimension in which perspective and proportion follow different rules.  We see a kaleidoscope of strange overlapping realities arising from the fusion of animal and human in spaces which are mid-way between nature and the modern world.  Characters with outsized heads interact with their environment according to an improbable association of ideas close to surrealism.  Boys and girls, often clothed in zoomorphic garments, never look at the observer preferring to turn their melancholy attention elsewhere which emphasises the strangeness of the atmosphere.  Although the characters may seem to be aware of us they in fact go beyond us, indifferent, turning their eyes beyond our world.  Troubling and filled with a lifeless nostalgia, the drawings, sometimes enriched by colour, could be stories waiting for a narrator.

Fluid and undulating, the water colours of Isabelle Ménéan become floating universes suspended on white paper.  Her colour range explodes into diverse floral and animal shapes creating multicoloured, bright bouquets of flamboyant flowers in which fantastic birds come to life.  This exuberant symphony in which all the colours of the rainbow melt together harmoniously, resembles the magmatic mass at the origin of artistic creation.  Its constant movement produces miniature worlds peopled by strange shapes.  With complete control, the artist’s gestures manage the secrets of water colour and she knows how to use her capricious humour to produce playful and sensual shading.  The magical and intriguing paintings of Isabelle Ménéan are as fascinating and elusive as the memory of a dream on waking up. 

Perceive what is real by capturing the sounds which compose its immaterial essence.  Such is the theme of Pierre Thoma’s compositions.  The sounds are taken from nature, the industrialised world or the human voice and reworked into sequences from different recordings.  Thoma mixes, juxtaposes, repeats and superposes the sounds without changing them.  When recombined the voices, murmurs, creaks, breaths, beats and any other vibrations of the air become sound volumes which inhabit space and give it new dimensions.  For this exhibition, Pierre Thoma created three sound spaces inspired by nature and its astonishing variations.  A cluster of miniature speakers, called Elole or the nature of the air, diffuses a mixture of insect and bird sounds, as well as those of glasshouse motors, the steam of a paddle boat and the general buzz around us.  Human nature is represented by two speakers playing an unexpected dialogue between the voices of Umberto Eco and a prostitute.  Finally, the nature of the earth, Gaïa, draws the spectator into underwater sounds, close to what an embryo hears in its mother’s womb./ N. Kunz

 

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