An essay by art historian Colin Lemoine
Colin Lemoine is an art historian and art critic for the Journal des arts and L’Oeil magazines. He is also editorial advisor and artistic consultant for various contemporary art events. He and former French Minister of Culture Jack Lang co-authored a book on Michelangelo (Fayard publishing house, 2012). Colin Lemoine is also a curator. In 2016, he has co-curated two Parisian exhibitions : "Ludwig Van, le Mythe Beethoven" with Marie-Pauline Martin at the Philharmonie and at the Bourdelle Museum "De bruit et de fureur. Bourdelle sculpteur et photographe" with Chloé Théault. In his essay "Still life", Colin Lemoine gives his insight on Isabelle Bonzom's painting.
To paint is to represent. It is to present anew, and again. To paint is to return to the real, not to repeat it but to make it talk. It is to return to serious things, silent things that are rarely expressed. It is saying what we believe to be mute. It is saying again the power of the world, fastening its lability and mobility. To paint is to pierce what is immemorial. It is making visible the continuity of dreams, buried and befallen. It is the illusion – a marvelous one – of déjà vu.
Isabelle Bonzom knows all that. She knows the fragility as much as the greatness of the decisive moment, its charge of unknown as well as its universal discretion. Here, a crossroads populated by solitude; there, a street inhabited by anonymous people; here, a glimpse of a tree, there, a probable shadow. Everything melts and is in tune with everything. Everything seems necessary and evident, as if the world, at last, was seen itself being put into words, into forms. Things make sense.
From our baroque lives, Isabelle Bonzom extracts purity. Not realistic or naturalistic purity – that is the privilege of the documentary and the photograph – but symbolic purity, almost symbolist.
Of course, Hopper and Hodgkin, Vuillard and Bonnard are never far away. Yet, in front of this unbridled vegetation and this pigmentary luxuriance, don’t we recognize Redon’s ochre, Spilliaert’s blue, Böcklin’s black?
In front of the composition and modulation of tones, their infinite coruscation, their subterranean mystery, the contamination of painting by paint, the unreasoned assumption of color, don’t we think of Klimt, Degouve de Nuncques, of those painters who made of the real an epiphany of the soul?
A piece of meat – Isabelle Bonzom knows – is not flesh lying down, not a simple nature morte (literally, “dead nature”). Under the red of the blood and the weight of meat, there is life, pulsating. Still life. Life, always. Still. To be represented.
Copyright 2018 © Isabelle Bonzom