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LA NUIT, L'ARBRE ET LE MASQUE

ANNE BRETON

ALEXIS NIVELLE

Galerie Bacqueville is delighted to be presenting for the first time the work of Anne Breton and Alexis Nivelle, whose universes, though different, share a common attraction for the imaginary and the dreamlike through hybrid, open and enigmatic forms.

 

I took off the mask, and then I put it back on.

That way it's better.

That way I am the mask.

- Fernando Pessoa
 

Anne Breton uses drawing, collage, ceramics, textiles, brass, wax and wood. The refined yet primitive craftsmanship of her sculptures encourages the expression of raw material. The artist pays constant attention to textures, proportional relationships and the natural development of colours. The same meticulous care goes into the way she bases, hangs and places her works. The supple, ovoid shapes imagined by Anne Breton suggest, at first glance, softness and calm, but these protective volumes also conceal a dark side, nocturnal, unfathomable. Like eggs, they always seem to be inhabited by a form of latent life. Or obscurely haunted, inside.

Here and there, a growth, a mouth or a nose, emerges... In the earth, eyes sometimes hatch. And a head - or a mask - may surface unexpectedly. Whether archaic idols, contemporary sculptures or utilitarian objects, these living forms spy on us as we look at them. But what strange and caressing rituals are they intended for?

As a drawing artist, Alexis Nivelle uses simple means: mise en abîme and coloured pencils. He carefully draws empty living rooms and deserted spaces in which he stages furnishings and paintings that resemble his own... Fictional paintings, a kind of stand-in for a suspended meta-narrative, a legend invaded by ectoplasms but still at a standstill.

As a painter, he likes to depict old friends, clichés and recurring silhouettes on canvas. These silhouettes are disguised (in geometric, kinky or organic shapes) and form a small troupe. The branch, the phylactery, the square, the étroniforme, the bubble or the ball become actors who interact together, facetiously - their presence together, colourful and mute, never saying anything. Is this still and silent theatre, this theatre of the interior, also operetta theatre?

The worlds of Anne Breton and Alexis Nivelle, though singular, are interconnected and the attentive viewer is quick to perceive this. Connected by deliberate intersections and occasional formal conjunctions, of course. But also, more deeply and probably unconsciously, by belonging to the same type of sensibility. A Chtonian sensibility
(1) perhaps? Let's formulate this hypothesis… According to Jean-Louis Chanéac (an architect and painter by training), this sensibility is characterised a taste for subterranean and subaquatic worlds and an attraction for curves and free forms, hybridity and reverie. By a certain inclination, shared by our two artists, for the unbridled expression of chimeras and fantasies.

So we too can dream, and in this vein we can build up a wild genealogy, a chtonian pantheon, with some of the Great Old Ones: Hilma af Klint, Jean Arp, Eva Hesse and Ken Price - to name but a few. So many artists, adepts of a form of fundamental, intuitive research flirting with the fantastic and composing a timeless family of eccentrics. A tribe of individuals who instinctively free themselves from the shackles of instrumental reason and docile complacency towards reality to live at last, elsewhere…  In the ocean, in the night, in the Ovoid. - Élise Vaxellin

(1) As part of the "artists' counter-architecture" described by Michel Ragon, which also includes the work of Jacques Couëlle and Pierre Székely, Jean-Louis Chanéac has outlined and defended this chtonian sensibility in his writings (Jean-Louis Chanéac, Architecture interdite, Éditions du Linteau, 2005).

Group show. 30 May - 29 May 2024

Opening Tuesday 30 May 2024, 6.30pm - 9.30pm
With the presence of the artists

 

Image above :

Anne Breton, Noli me tangere, 2017 & Blow, bloom, bloow, 2019

Alexis Nivelle, Double phylactère, 2023

Photo credit : Paul Tahon

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