center for contemporary non-objective art

Main space | solo exhibition

Paint it, Black January 2007

Emmanuelle Villard

*1970 in Montpellier (France) Lives & works in Brussels (Belgium)

Imagine an era in which artists working in the field of abstraction are considered decorators and the primary quality of abstract painting is that it can be transformed into wallpaper or packaging for shampoo. Imagine further that in this era viewers have become accustomed to recognizing a picture before looking at it, their gaze travelling across the surface of the canvas as it would across the surface of an everyday world with which they feel totally familiar.

What would that leave painting?

The exhibition draws on a play on language constructed around the concept of what remains, what is left. First, left in the literal sense of the term: for we know that paint can be fluid, that it can run, trickle, drip, dislodge itself, spill over and out of the frame of the picture; that in its descent it can form drops, drips, diverse ’accidentals’ extrinsic to the artistic intention; and that these remains, the ’residue’ as it were of the picture, become an integral part of the work. And second, left in the figurative sense of the term: reflecting on the history of abstraction and the various formal shifts that lead it to flirt with decoration and design, I cannot but wonder what is there left of abstract painting today.

A dialogue between three propositions

The first, which gives the exhibition its title, is a triptych. The picture has deserted the wall, leaving in its place a wall painting, ’disembodied’, basic in form and execution. The ’body’ of the painting is transposed to the piece in suspension, both design and baroque in its inspiration. It looks as if it has been immersed in paint and then left to drip, to dry very slowly, before being put on display. The floor piece is vertical to the suspended piece, marking the place taken up below it by this hypothetical dispersion of matter. And yet this residue creates on the floor a strange length of lace – something between a napkin and a carpet – as if, on coming into contact with the exhibition space, these pictural remains have been transformed into a composition that is essentially decorative. These shifts of sense and form between the three elements are also acted out in spatial terms: the composition as a whole, the quality of the different materials and the different qual ities of black change as the viewer moves around the exhibition space inciting him to observe not just from one but from many view points.

The two other propositons are pictures which play ironically and without complex on the seductive artifices associated with the fair, with show business. They draw on two ’classical’ registers – the drip and the stripe – highlighted here by the use of glitter. Playing with the light and the angle of vision of the viewer the glitter ’illuminates’ or ’extinguishes’ the pictures as if they were everyday objects.

Each of the propositions aims to question the way in which the viewer ’views’, by multiplying his points of vision, both in the space itself but also by proposing a to-ing and fro-ing between the field of the abstract painting and the field of the object. But with special attention to the surface: as a ’trompe-l’oeil’ or ’trompe-sens’ and, by extension, as a tool for questioning perception. (Emmanuelle Villard, 2007)

Proceeding like a chemist, an alchemist or a five-star chef, Emmanuelle Villard explores primarily the artifices of seduction in her artistic practice, notably painting, installations and photography. Ingredients are carefully chosen, combined and recombined, shaken and stirred. However, nothing goes to waste in the ’cuisine pictorale’ of Emmanuelle Villard. Leftovers and residues are kept for later use in future ’recipes’. Her colorful, flashy paintings, usually installed on the wall and most recently also suspended from the ceiling, are sexy, sensual, almost Epicurean, and fully aware of their enticing qualities. A whirlwind of opulent colors and materiality, they are sending the viewer through hot flushes and a seemingly endless row of yearning and desire. One not only wants to touch and hold them, but most likely lick them of the wall. Their glossy, almost skin-like surface, however, keeps the enraptured viewer at bay. ‘The touching part of Emmanuelle Villard’s work lies in its double invitation: an admission to the trials and aesthetic jubilation of painting, and, at the same time, the opening up of abstract painting to contemporary problematics-image consumption, the body, intimacy, femininity…Whilst many contemporary artist are plunging themselves into photography and video, tending towards intimate exhibitionism or spectacular representation of the body, Emmanuelle Villard prefers to weave the surface of her canvas with possible ornaments or physical irregularities, questioning the validity of painting today, stimulating feminine evolution in life and artistic creation. […] One begins to see how such painting maintains an essential link with skin, not as a simple surface or envelope, but as a real place of exchange, transformation and contact.’ (Larys Frogier, " Emmanuelle Villard: painting skin-deep", catalogue ’Emmanuelle Villard’, La Criée centre d’art contemporain (Rennes), 2002). In addition to painting, Villard also creates site-specific installations and photographs.

Edition by Emmanuelle Villard

Stardust United 2007

Expositions avec
Emmanuelle Villard
My eyes keep me in trouble, 2010

external exhibitions & cooperations

UND... VOILA @ Maison Abandonée, ­ Villa carmeline, Nice (FR), 2009

external exhibitions & cooperations

My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble @ The Physics Room Christchurch (NZ), 2008

external exhibitions & cooperations

My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble @ Sydney College Of The Arts Gallery (AUS), 2008

external exhibitions & cooperations

Stardust United, 2007

group show

Pas de soucis..., 2007

external exhibitions & cooperations

A BIT O’ WHITE, 2007

group show