Interpuncties P36 [Tohoku], 2016, oil and mixed media on canvas, 110 x 150 cm
For her fifth solo exhibition at galerie Transit, Virginie Bailly presents paintings that are so dynamic that they seem to move. The various elements on the canvas, agglomerates of brushstrokes and paint splotches, look as if they are on the verge of taking on a different shape.
hey possess an ephemeral character, like the remains that are left scattered across the street after the weekly market near Bailly's residence in a Brussels industrial area. These elements form casual little compositions able to adopt a different structure within moments. This strong transformative potential, evident in many of the works of Bailly, especially in the series entitled Interpuncties [Punctuations], makes that her works exhibit similarities with the paintings of Cy Twombly. Seemingly casual yet with a steady hand, the artist places her brush strokes on the canvas, yet the left open spaces play as important a role as the painted areas. ...
n her latest work, the artist finds inspiration in the old masters. The punctuations of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in his ceiling frescoes, for example, are a starting point for her work Interpuncties P34. Bailly is particularly interested in how Tiepolo alternates island-like groups of figures with large empty spaces, thereby masterfully constructing the visual plane and controlling the light.
Bailly composes her painting around a bright yellow plane through a scattering of numerous, juxtaposed small elements, made up of short, broad brush strokes
Equally important in Bailly's painting are contemporary visual sources. She finds inspiration, for example, in images of the heavy devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 in Haiti yet, as was also often the case in her earlier works, these impressions are not immediately put to the canvas, but are rather depicted through atmospheres and moods.
The media images of the hurricane inspire the artist, just like Rubens' descent of the cross, not just compositionally but also in terms of content. The Christian iconography shows the dead body of Jesus, after a long agony, with hopeful expectation in his facial expression, a hope which will later be fulfilled when he rises from the dead. This aspect of hopefulness can also be found in the photos of the devastation caused by the hurricane across an entire region because, despite all the worries and destruction, there are fellow men helping the victims to build up a new life. These are images that depict the state of tension of a transition; places of suffering and grief where there is hope for something better, the start of something new. To overcome fear is to commit a political act. This is the moment that Bailly expresses in her paintings.
A picture of the attack in the Brussels metro station Maalbeek on March 22, 2016, forms the backdrop of the work, Le corps disloqué P10 (Maelbeek 1). This picture shows the subway car and the bodies of the victims scattered everywhere; the bodies have been rendered unrecognizable by means of pixilation, they are hidden behind empty spots. The terrible truth comes to light by uncovering the wrecked railcar and hiding the bodies behind blind spots. The blind spots find a parallel in the paintings. Bailly, in this way, makes clear that abstract painting need not be devoid of politics.
[Nina Schedlmayer, Januari 2017]
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