Barbara Cardinale, Lucie Kohler, Pablo Osorio / Zoomorphisms

18th April - 31st May 2015

Barbara Cardinale explores the thousand and one facets of womanhood by endowing her characters with animal characteristics.  Whether the animal is a doe, wolf, eagle or rabbit, it is given claws or is portrayed as tender or malicious, according to the iconography of each series. The artist uses transfer to draw the body on which she then grafts the animal features using various methods.  Seen from behind or in front, breast uncovered, it is the same female body although each portrayal, given added detail, is unique.  In the final painting, the realism of the original transferred image has become a shadow, an abstract idea which is also surreal because of the ease with which the animal and human bodies blend.  This is done with such subtlety that it is difficult to judge whether animal or human predominates.  We leave character and move into metaphor which emerges naturally from this poetic union.  The evocative power of the images paints a frank portrait of female nature with a degree of brutality emphasised by the fading imprint of the drawing which has become a shadow, an echo holding only the concentrated essence of the message.

The exuberant works of Lucie Kohler fizz with details drawn indistinctly from reality, myth and dreams.  They are constructed theatrically; a plant design often emerges from a black and white background.  In this confined space, the people in the forefront of the painting resemble actors observing the audience.  Half man, half beast, their masks and costumes derive from various traditions and epochs.  They perform mysterious scenarios full of cultural references from the Lötschental mask to the Willendorf Venus, the sphinx to Amerindian and Balinese culture. The artist offers us an infinite imaginary world where tales and legends return inevitably to the human despite the animal features of the characters.  Some of the drawings have become sculptures.  Rats, bats and reptilian heads recall deliberately naif drawings through the spontaneity and freshness of the modelling which has deliberate traces of the fingers.  The artist has applied even lines to the drawings which balance the composition and suggest a falsely childish language.  Lucie Kohler invites us into a hybrid universe between serious and comic, myth and theatre which stirs our common ancestral memory.

In Pablo Osorio’s paintings the image of an animal lands lightly on one of a human and invests every corner of the soul.  With outstanding technical skill, layers of engraving and aquatint produce a drawing of depth and transparency in which man and animal are one.  It’s difficult to say whether the figures are anthropormorphic animals or zoomorphic humans because the combination of the two is extremely subtle.  Especially in his portrait series, Pablo Osorio applies surgical precision and a nearly unlimited determination to present an infinite range of characters with their faults and emotions which remind us of Aesop’s fables.  He achieves this by using derision and humour without ever crossing the line into caricature.  He delicately suggests a complicity between man and animal.  The artist’s inspiration lies in  shamanistic and totemic rituals and he sketches strange scenes in a surrealist mode in which humans and animals interact through play, domination or imitation.  The rigour of this artist’s work operates like a mirror endlessly reflecting the riches of human nature./N.Kunz

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