Carole Benzaken: Oui, l'homme est un arbre des champs

14 November 2013 - 25 January 2014 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Nathalie Obadia Gallery is very pleased to present the seventh exhibition of the work of Carole Benzaken since 1993 to mark the twentieth anniversary of our partnership with this artist.

Carole Benzaken develops a pictorial work that challenges the status of the image, as well as its representation and perception both in the space of the painting and outside it. She never ceases to surprise the viewer by constantly taking new approaches to the use of new media and techniques make use of three-dimensional space.
On this occasion Carole Benzaken is presenting works on the boundary between figuration and abstraction, in which a rhizomatic proliferation impinges upon different media by decomposing and recomposing the figure of the tree. Ramifications rather than arborescences multiply and overflow on different supports.

Through a series of works (Magnolias, Doors – Tehilim, Od drwzi do drzwi, Yemima, Makom and the installation Migrations Temporaires) the artist has pursued her research, blurring reality so as to make it more visible.

In the series Od drzwi do drzwi (From door to door), Benzaken destabilizes the viewer’s perception with effects of flux and acceleration that alters the source image (a road movie of trees in winter). The resulting distension of space and time is transposed through a pictorial touch that suggests the representation is vibrating or indeed trembling. The fuzziness of the image renders the subject insubstantial, distorted and imprecise. The optical effect created by this displacement stimulates a feeling of transience and enchantment in the viewer.

Taking as her subject the very unusual blooming of magnolias, plants whose flowers open before their leaves develop, thus passing without transition from winter to spring, Benzaken’s Magnolias – painted with India ink highlighted with colour crayons and placed within glass – are a new plastic offering.
Tight framing combined with the opalescent thickness of the glass allows the viewer to feel the presence of the tree through the vibratory and velvety effects created: the transparent shadows, the blended shades of tones, and the ethereal hues of the flowers respond to the calligraphic representation of the black branches.
The contrast is weakened in a visual interlacing that increasingly distances us from a figurative image. The alchemical fusion of the glass and colour acculturates our gaze to an “atmospheric” abstraction that is as close as possible to the essence of a tree.

Following a project that had the Book of Ezekiel as its theme (Saviv Saviv, the episode of the dry bones, Ezekiel 37: 1-14) which was triggered by her exhibition for the MAHJ (Museum of the Art and History of Judaism) in 2011–12, and the art centre in Bielsko-Biala in Poland (2012), Carole Benzaken has taken this formal meditation further with the new series of Portes – Tehilim (the psalms of David).
Broadening the plastic possibilities of the theme of contamination, Benzaken has produced works composed of strips of paper painted with India ink and lithographic ink. The mass of vertical strips, suggestive of hair or movie film, blurs with the background in which the colours are reduced to black and white rarefied by a few touches of colour representing fruit or leaves. The eye becomes immersed in this hail of signs to the point of giddiness. The retina reconstitutes the image composed by the multitude of paper strips. Benzaken is here bringing into play a sequenced memory whose fragmentation allows the viewer to experience both an overall interpretation and the perception of a multitude of stimuli.
Projecting slightly from the wall, halfway between a painting and a low relief, these works are the epitome of a research into multiple supports the artist has undertaken since 2006, that associate what are generally thought to be antinomic concepts, such as fusion/fragmentation, representation/evocation.

The manner in which Carole Benzaken’s works are hung in the spaces of the gallery are illustrative of her fondness for the creation of volume in painting, which she implements in the architecture of the exhibition space.

For the twentieth anniversary of the partnership between Carole Benzaken and Nathalie Obadia, the artist has chosen to present a set of recent works in Galerie II entitled Autoportraits (anciens). These take the motif of the tulip which the artist presented at her first show at the Galerie Nathalie Obadia.
An echo of the reinterpreted past, these Autoportraits (anciens) are offered as an anniversary bouquet to celebrate her association with the gallery.

Carole Benzaken would like to thank Patrice Forest of Item Édition.