Praz-Delavallade is pleased to extend an invitation to Soufiane Ababri, Carlotta Bailly-Borg, Micky Clément, Julia Haumont, Thomas Fougeirol, Jim Shaw, Nathan Mabry and Marnie Weber for the exhibition Summer Spirits.
Together, these artists immerse visitors in an ethereal world where the boundaries between the physical and the spiritual are blurred. Their bold and eclectic creations span various mediums, including film, sculpture, and painting, and explore themes of absence, traces, and the fluidity of bodies under the influence of heat. Tangible only under certain circumstances, they reveal our inner worlds, disrupting our lives through diffuse apparitions, recurring thoughts, and repetitive dreams. Their presence is far from trivial; they question our beliefs, values, and anxieties, revealing our deepest desires, fears, and hopes, occasionally delivering messages. From antiquity, with Ulysses already encountering the souls of the deceased during his journey to the Underworld, to the 19th century, where numerous authors were captivated by the ghost of Hamlet's father, essential in the construction of romantic imagination, to the fantastic creatures of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese folklore, such as the mischievous spirits known as yokai, who demonstrate daily troubles, ghosts infiltrate every corner of our lives and cultures.
Soufiane Ababri’s drawing takes up the idea of the "body within the body" by showing a poster of Paul Newman stuck on a mirror. Holes placed at eye level allow the person in front of the mirror to see themselves in the portrait, to project themselves into it, to take hold of it, even to penetrate the image. The work explores the idea of an everyday ritual, offering the possibility of imagining oneself in the skin of a Hollywood film icon and the ambiguity of referring to a sex symbol to face everyday life. This approach can also be interpreted in an erotic context, where the sensation of another skin on oneself allows one to appropriate it. The drawing, while ironic, also addresses the issue of survival within certain communities where reference to characters from the past may be the only way forward.
The poetic paintings of Carlotta Bailly-Borg dig into the realm of summer ghosts. Her brushstrokes capture fleeting moments and delicate apparitions, evoking a sense of nostalgia and transience. The free, fluid, and flexible bodies bend with almost effortless grace. The artist employs traces of flowers as if summoning the spirits of plants. Delicate forms intertwine, drawing inspiration from Greek and Hindu mythologies, medieval manuscripts, and Japanese erotic depictions like those of Sharaku.
Micky Clement's works, executed in dry pastel, offer a direct confrontation between the artist and the support, with only the action of fingers bringing forth the alchemy of movements and areas of color. The work Vue sur mer (Sea View) blends memories and fantasies: faceless and characterless, the interior-exterior setting opens up the perspective of joyful escapism. A simple story, a pool, the sea, multiple paths to take.
Julia Haumont creates her own playground, animated by ceramic and glass works, anthropomorphic characters, and objects inspired by the sea. Her universe is complemented by textile collages that delineate the boundaries of this cosmos to be reconquered.
Thomas Fougeirol explores the tactile nature and materiality of painting with vibrant and textured canvases. From a distance, the canvases appear as photographic experiments or images of materials. Up close, they reveal the rich diversity of their structure, exposing the traces of their creation process. His works capture spectral layers of light and emotion, evoking an atmosphere from another world.
Jim Shaw, a master of subversive and surreal art, presents thought-provoking works that challenge our perception of reality. His complex and layered artworks explore the enigmatic presence of spirits, infusing them with symbolism and hidden meaning. Shaw's works invite viewers to question their own interpretations by wandering into the mysteries of his own psyche.
Nathan Mabry captures the energy of the season with his expressive creations, blending organic and industrial elements. Feels (Ghost) evokes Matisse's cut-outs, bridging the gap between art history and contemporary creation. The associations with linen suggest the representation of ghosts and faces, reinterpreting it in “fiery romanticism”.
Marnie Weber's A Western Song tells the story of young girls who tragically died and return as spirits to convey a message of emancipation. Inspired by the American spiritualist movement of the 1850s, the video combines melt classic western, surrealist experiment, expressionist drama and contercultural elements. It explores the spiritual journey of the Spirit Girls in the countryside, addressing emerging sexuality and notions of beauty, ugliness, and cruelty.
For Summer Spirits, the invited artists explore the ambiguous, plural, and fluid relationship between our unconscious and the "phantasmal." They offer us multiple portraits of ghosts and invite us to oscillate between the tangible and the ethereal, blurring the boundaries of our perception. In this realm of blurred realities, we immerse ourselves in the dichotomy of presence and absence, exploring the interaction of fluidity and transformation.