Jacqueline Benz, Lucia Masu, David Jacot / Fémin Pluriel
10 June - 9 July 2017
The first group of drawings shown by Jacqueline Benz at this exhibition have been selected from several series on women. Some of them originate in interviews or in meetings with young girls: d'elles, entrevues, Poltergeist (of women, interviews, Poltergeist). The references are sometimes obvious such as Renaissance painting, or they are observations of women the artist met in Egypt. Other, abstract, works establish temporality by the repeated gesture of a coloured line. The drawings inspired by the meetings with young girls began when the artist was reading Une voie pour l’insubordination in which Henri Michaux describes the powers of the poltergeist, a domestic spirit whose malicious nature disrupts the patriarchal order and upsets the household when it is practised by young girls.
Jacqueline Benz met Meret in Bern, Mariam in Cairo and Astrid in Copenhagen. Following the daily lives of these three young women in transition, the artist weaves links between them based especially on their ability to turn their energy towards a future of projects and dreams, while nevertheless keeping one foot in childhood. At the same time, her respect for their well-defined personalities, attitudes and tastes determines the tonality of each drawing making each of these "young girls in eclipse" unique.
A second series traces a cortege of women in St Petersbourg in which the artist herself took part and is drawn from an image she re-discovered at her home some years later. In a line, cupping two lemons and a garlic clove in their hands, the women, without facial features, merge into a common dimension as if they are being made to adhere even more strongly to the group. When she had finished this series, the artist came across an echo of this Russian experience in a text by Marina Tsvetaeva, The flagellants, which talks of how women always relate to a group: "they only existed in the plural". The extracts, painted on canvas, correspond exactly to the anonymity of the lines of faceless silhouettes and are inserted in touches of colour which remind us of the large coloured shawls worn by peasants.
David Jacot began his artistic life because of his favourite animal: the elephant. Following his first artistic forays in bright solid colours, his fascination with women rapidly dominated his imagination. After a phase of coloured surfaces, lines appeared naturally, fluidly and freely emphasising the slim silhouettes of the characters from glossy magazines. Usually nude or in a bathing costume, the figures ondulate across the white page between space and non-space with a suprising elegance and rhythm. The artist's delicacy and respectful curiosity explores the eternal feminine. The unique identity of the figure in each of Jacot's drawings breaks with the standard depictions in fashion media. Each person has a unique character and proudly shows their sexual attractions in poses which are sometimes improbable, or in interaction with other figures. The omnipresent eroticism is never vulgar and is sometimes mischievous, while the imperfections of the women make them all the more human, the owners of unique stories. The artist surprised himself recently by drawing a man amongst this female company. To the observer, David Jacot has finally become an actor in his own life and art thanks to the love he has received during his existence.
The wrinkled material and the colours Lucia Masu uses in her works, immediately remind one of skin. She reinforces the impression by perforating the support and then dusting it with crimson pigment. This is the spolvero technique that was used during the Italian Renaissance to transfer sketches from paper to wall. Depiction of the body - bound and damaged, contorted, forced into a limited space, shackled with ropes and bands of cloth - is at the centre of Lucia Masu's drawings. The harmonious acrobatic positions similar to those of yoga, struggle against the physical limits imposed on the limbs, as if to illustrate the difficulty of finding peace in our all-powerful western society where inertia may be the only possible means of resistance.
In other works, the artist focuses on a part of the body such as a foot, hand, or navel which, hugely enlarged, become univeral elelements, metaphors of the individual in which each of us can find his or her own story. The work involved in perforating the surface creates a link between what is intimate and the external world, it touches ritual, and it echoes the traces of life left on skin by memory. The navel too links our pre-natal origins to our departure for the external world once the umbilical cord has been cut. All the artist's work therefore concentrates on the very essence of human existence, its precious fragility which is the source of its creative force.