One Sunday, while I had just finished my last pop-up event in Chelsea, a woman knocked on the door of my apartment. She introduced herself as an artist who makes "speaking work of arts*" (des oeuvres qui parlent*). This concept intrigued me and despite my fatigue, I decided to let her come into my living room still full of the boxes from the last opening reception. Usually after the completion of curating an art show, I am prone to falling into post-exhibition blues. However, opening her portfolio prevented me this typical condition. To be honest, in my experience the work of this French self-taught artist is the most innovative I have seen for a long time…
For a few years now, Christine Vannier has been completing her creations with the addition of a recorded sound. Facing her multidisciplinary work, you may also now experience the internal thoughts of the artist.
She approaches the dream of numerous artists of the late Nineteenth Century. The ideal synesthesia envisaged by Paul Klee, for example, can find part of the solution/realization in those speaking works of art. The parallel with Klee is not only a coincidence. How Christine Vannier was led to this concept is mostly due to her passion for music. The composition of her abstract paintings deeply interacts with the melody of their creation. Sometimes she immerses you into her feelings about the work, sometimes even in the process of their creation or into a story the painting or photograph evoked in her. The fascinating part of Christine Vannier's work is this "supplément d'âme*" (addition of soul) that Charles Baudelaire was talking about and she integrates in our contemplation. Certainly, the sound she includes in her works abolish a part of the - still porous - border between abstraction and figuration. Because as Klee said: art doesn't reproduce the visible but makes visible* (L'art ne reproduit pas le visible, il rend visible*).
The subtlety of her compositions resides in a harmonious blend made from her palette of colors. Christine Vannier loves the riot of colors, which can be seen in her fascination for the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island for instance. She uses strong colors – fuchsia, lemon yellow, cyan blue – in her paintings as well as in her personal wardrobe. But above all, she refuses any sort of color indecency. She throws these colors in our faces but protects us against their aggression. Walking into her stunning work would be like walking through the Celebrations of Holi in India with a transparent helmet in which a score of Philip Glass would be playing.
The progressive increasing of the dimensions of her paintings is the consequence of her desire to do a physical confrontation with the color, the matter and the actual painting. Christine Vannier has a physical relationship with the works she makes. She scrapes, she coats the material to make something happen from the numerous layers she applies on the canvas. By integrating some pieces of clothes, she designs a sort of intimate geography that we are invited to explore. And each picture she takes is an invitation to follow her on her journey into color.
Finally, the decision to turn to sound is a result of this desire to be envelopped by the work, but also from her aspirations to be closer to the viewer. What I love about the art of Christine Vannier is how free and unabashed she is in using all the media. But there is one material she truly perfects: the sound. The latter is like a corrective lens she affixes on the work but without blinding us. In fact, we are free to see what we want in her compositions – sculpture, paintings, digital works, etc. – and the sound designed for the work is like a final glazing she applies with acrylic or oil; but the most subtle, the most encompassing and the most impressive. The work has its own presence, its own existence as well as the sound on its side. But the interaction of both reveals a third dimension, the same that appears when a director uses consecutive images to pass an emotion onto the spectator. Once more, Christine Vannier shows her exceptional ability to create stories invading our senses. Her speaking works establish an intimate connection with each viewer, as during an exhibition in which all are in the same room but even so feeling a personal experience with the work.Back