Lucile Bouvard, Bar Babette, Berlin, 2018
Emmanuelle Castellan’s pictorial practice extends from a classical form of painting to three dimensional flat pictorial sculptures, and site-specific wall-painting environments. The artist finds her inspiration in a wide range of images found in postcards, magazines, old photographs, illustrations from the Internet — mainly rooted in popular culture — taken as such or recomposed. The artists repeat the image several times, before systematically effacing it and starting over. What remains from this process are residual elements, marks that eventually becomes the really subject of the painting. Often repeated or emerging through the gradient of pastel colors of the painting’s surface like “surviving images”, they set the clues of elusive narratives and ghost stories.
Shown for the first time at Bar Babette, Double hands is the results of various experiences, folding and painting applied by the artist. Two hands emerge from the fold in a mirroring effect: one painted, and seemingly human, just appears onto the surface of the canvas, the other both painted and cut seems coming out and is endowed with animal features. Its claws-like nails transfer the latter into a hybrid anthropomorphic and bestial being and conjure up a mysterious and powerful presence. Stemming from various inspiration sources, it calls to mind iconic works by Meret Oppenheim or designer Elsa Schiaparelli, two « women-witches » as the artists call them, these female artists have open a path which allows her to explore freely “ethereal places from the realm of the touch, sometimes somehow dark or very soft”. (her tactile experience of painting making with softness or a hint darkness.
The painting elastic boards was primarily inspired by a vase of architect and designer Josef Hoffman. The features of the vase have almost disappeared and are merely outlined by two curve cuts. Its decoration has muted into a large colored opening in the shape of a mouth or the outlines of an eye. The paintings is marked on its size by the artist’s fingerprints. She left it in the fresh paint, when trying once to manipulate it like an antic mask. This anecdote is quite revealing of the artist tactile and sensual relation to her medium and of the open-up nature of picturial practice.