by Zelda Rudzitsky
Greco-Roman ruins and imaginary masked characters set the stage for “Carne Vale,” the new exhibition by Nadege David and Sandrine Llouquet at Galerie Quynh.
Upon entering Quynh’s downtown gallery, there is an initial, misleading similarity among the artwork: ink, watercolour, pencil and China ink are used on both the drawings, paintings and installation, creating forms that appear delicate, as if they were quickly disappearing into the white canvases and walls.
This illusion, however, is soon disproved when looking at the artists’ drawings, quasi consciously alternated on the wall, and a clear distinction in tone emerges.
In Llouquet’s drawings, an chronologically misplaced girl on roller skates roams the ruins of what appears to be a Greco-Roman house or temple (Mithra Games Grand Opening); a character wearing a bright-yellow lion costume walks towards decaying ancient Greek columns (Entering theRuins of Motley Cow). Llouquet has composed imaginary worlds, referencing Greek philosophy and Freudian psychology, inhabited by recognisable figures whose lively appearances are enhanced by splashes of bright colours.
David’s pieces, on the other hand, are dominated by intricate China ink and a few but effective bursts of red watercolour, resulting in sinister, delicate yet unidentifiable creatures, similar to those one may find in a Japanese horror film (Richter, Alice and the Initial Collision). While for Lloquet the dissolution manifests itself in the scenery, where buildings, columns and birdcages gradually fade away as the composition moves towards the edges of the paper; in David’s it is within the characters, lurking behind veils of ink and drawings of what appear to be organs (La Communaute des Sentiments series).
As the title of the exhibition suggests (“Carne Vale” refers to “Carnival” – a Christian celebration that occurs before the season of Lent, in which participants are required to wear costumes and masks and refrain from eating meat) the work is dipped in religious and pagan iconography, but this is rather a playful reinterpretation of these long-gone places and traditions.
This background allows the two artists to explore transcendent realities. For David, this goes towards the unknown layers that serve to delineate humanity. For Llouquet, instead, it is steeped in the Freudian subconscious, where we see recognisable places that have been altered by our imagination or recollection of them.
This is not the first appearance by the two French artists at Galerie Quynh but it is the first time they have worked together on a two-person show.
Llouquet had previously presented light, concrete plastic installations as well as ink and watercolour drawings with the common thread of subverting reality with a touch of magical themes. When comparing her previous drawing work, the ones done for “Carne Vale” appear to be the most compositely accomplished and magical.
The self-taught artist David further extends her interest in Asian figures, biological forms, but along the same trajectory, exploring ink and its unpredictable, flued effects on paper.