martes, 31 de mayo de 2016

Spanish Police Make Seven Arrests Over Francis Bacon Paintings Stolen in Madrid


Auction houses are resorting to financial arrangements amid greater competition. Photo: Christie's
Sale of Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969) at Christie's New York in 2013. Photo: Christie's.
Spanish police have made seven arrests in relation to the theft of five Francis Bacon paintings from a private home in Madrid earlier this year with an estimate combined worth of €25 million (approximately $28 million).
According to a statement from Spanish police, in February, investigators received an email from a British private company which specializes in tracking stolen artworks. The company claimed that a person had gotten in touch with them via email to establish whether one of the five stolen Bacons was in fact on any list of stolen artworks.
The anonymous sender had also attached photographs of the painting. One of the images showed Bacon's signature on the back of the canvas, which led the company's specialists to suspect that the photo was taken after the theft.
The unnamed British company forwarded the photographs to Spanish investigators, who were able to determine the model of the camera that was used, locate the company that rented it out, and subsequently, find out who had rented it. The renter turned out to be one of the perpetrators. He was detained in his home, alongside a second perpetrator.
Photo of a pair of the stolen Francis Bacon Paintings. Photo: Courtesy Spanish Police.
Photo of a pair of the stolen Francis Bacon Paintings. Photo: Courtesy Spanish Police.
As for the five remaining abettors, the investigators found out that the thieves had been in touch with a Madrid-based art dealer and his son, who turned out to be the ones who had gotten in touch the British company to inquire about the status of one of the stolen works.
Three further individuals, who were contacted by the dealers and offered the stolen works, were also identified and arrested.
However, the paintings themselves have not been located yet, and the investigation is ongoing.
Spanish police also revealed that besides the paintings, the thieves stole a safe containing several collections of coins, jewels, and other valuable goods.
The theft—arguably one of the biggest art heists to take place in Spain in the last few decades—occurred in July 2015, when the five artworks and other valuable goods were stolen from the Madrid apartment of José Capelo Blanco, a Spanish friend of the legendary painter who inherited the artworks when Bacon died in 1992.
Capelo Blanco was in London when the theft occurred, according to Spanish police. An international investigation was launched shortly thereafter, but the heist was only made public in March this year.
At the time, ABC reported that Capelo Blanco was Bacon's last lover during a relationship that lasted four years, until Bacon's death in Madrid in 1992.
The Spanish newspaper reported that the legendary painter met the young financier at a party in the honor of the choreographer Frederick Ashton, when Bacon was 78 years old and Capelo 35. Capelo went on to pose for the artist on several occasions, including for a 1987 portrait and a 1991 triptych that is currently part of the MoMA collection.

The Fluid Experimentation of László Moholy-Nagy in a Long-Awaited Retrospective

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “A II (Construction A II)” (1924), oil and graphite on canvas, 45 5/8 x 53 5/8 inches, on view in ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’ at the Guggenheim Museum (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless noted)
Decked out in red factory overalls, László Moholy-Nagy cut a striking figure of an avant-garde utopian during his time teaching at the Bauhaus in Dessau from 1923 to 1928. And while his spirited belief in art inspiring a better future could define his career, there was also his radical experimentation with materials. Plexiglas sculptures melted in his own oven, and balanced Constructivist paintings with layers of geometric forms, were in turn influenced by his relocations across Europe and finally to the United States with the rise of the Nazis. And then there was a whole other body of graphic and theatrical design, where he brought his play with collaged imagery into the commercial realm.
László Moholy-Nagy, "Construction AL6 (Konstruktion AL6)" (1933–34), oil and incised lines on aluminum, 60 × 50 cm (courtesy IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Generalitat, © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
László Moholy-Nagy, “Construction AL6 (Konstruktion AL6)” (1933–34), oil and incised lines on aluminum, 60 × 50 cm (courtesy IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Generalitat, © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York) (click to enlarge)
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present, which opened this past weekend at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, is organized by the Guggenheim Foundation, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as his first retrospective in the United States in half a century. It chronologically crawls up the museum’s central spiral with over 300 pieces, from 1920s abstraction to 1940s “Space Modulators” that cast curious shadows from their plastic forms, some of his final work before his death at the age of 51 in 1946 from leukemia.
One of these sculptures — “Dual Form with Chromium Rods” (1946) — hovers on a wire down into the rotunda, greeting visitors as they begin the ascent on the spiral ramp. It’s not a monumental piece, appearing a bit like an industrial will-o’-the-wisp with its Plexiglas and chrome-plated brass, but with its spindly shadow dancing alongside, it encapsulates many of the ideas behind his work, including the embrace of new materials, light, transparency, and unexpected forms.
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “Dual Form with Chromium Rods” (1946), Plexiglas and chrome-plated brass, 36 1/2 x 47 7/8 x 22 inches
It’s definitely not an exhibition that feels like a summer blockbuster; he doesn’t have the same high profile as other Bauhaus alumni like Vasily Kandinsky or Josef Albers. Unless you are a hardcore Moholy-Nagy superfan, there likely aren’t any showpieces that you’ll be seeking out, and it’s certainly possible many visitors won’t be familiar with the Hungarian artist’s name (or how to pronounce it; “Mo-holy-Nawdge” is the most accepted). Yet Future Present is a surprisingly accessible and enjoyable exhibition about one man’s continuous experimentation. Whether his “telephone paintings,” which, he explained, were painted at an enamel factory through his called-in instructions, or his camera-less photograms made through exposing the paper to light, each reflects an optimistic embrace of possibility.
One of the standout moments is the 2009 recreation by Kai-Uwe Hemken and Jakob Gebert of his unrealized “Room of the Present,” where among collages of photographs, and a very Bauhaus structure of metal and black walls, is a replica of his “Light Prop for an Electric Stage.” It only operates about 14 times a day, so a bit of serendipity is involved, but when it springs into kinetic action it casts curious shadows as it turns. The contraption of gears, metal, plastic, and wood was built in 1930, and Moholy-Nagy hauled it along as a cumbersome travel companion. Alice Rawsthorn wrote for the New York Times in 2009 that customs officers “snorted in disbelief” when he said it was a machine “to create pools of light and shadow so he could study their movement,” and he was no better off when he lied and claimed it was “a robot, fountain, and mixing machine” (although apparently “hairdressing equipment” did the trick).
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “Room of the Present (Raum der Gegenwart)” (constructed in 2009 from plans and other documentation dated 1930), mixed media
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “Light Prop for an Electric Stage” (1930), exhibition replica, constructed in 2006, courtesy of Hattula Moholy-Nagy, metal, plastics, glass, paint, and wood, with electric motor, 59 7/16 x 27 9/16 x 27 9/16 inches
This may be slightly blasphemous to Moholy-Nagy’s impressive legacy, but I personally am most drawn to his advertising work. I’ve previously written about his 1936 design for Imperial Airways, where he morphed the London Underground map into a dynamic cartography for aviation routes, and the exhibition joins this work with examples like his vibrant posters for the Underground, where large typography warned riders of new pneumatic doors and the distance allowed by their fares in the same lively exuberance as his photomontages. His belief in the elevating impact of art on the social consciousness seems to also be behind even these commercial endeavors.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiral in the Guggenheim building works for Moholy-Nagy, rather than against the art as has been the case in past Guggenheim exhibitions, allowing his two-dimensional pieces to be embedded in its broad walls. When you look out at the opposite side of the rotunda, the differently colored backs of the ephemera cases and sporadic temporary walls in blueish gray appear together like another version of one of Moholy-Nagy’s paintings. However, I at least found there was some obtrusive glaring on the work due to the lighting, and many of the paintings being behind protective glass.
After Future Present closes in September, it will open on October 2 at the Art Institute of Chicago, and then on February 12, 2017 at LACMA. It’s a very methodical exhibition, presenting these hundreds of examples of his work without weighing one area of his art over another, offering a vision of a modernist who saw a populist potential in art and technology.
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “Twisted Planes” (1946), Plexiglas and steel, 16 x 34 3/8 x 20 1/8 inches
László Moholy-Nagy, "Photogram" (1926), gelatin silver photogram, 23.8 x 17.8 cm (courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo by Museum Associates/LACMA)
László Moholy-Nagy, “Photogram” (1926), gelatin silver photogram, 23.8 x 17.8 cm (courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo by Museum Associates/LACMA)
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
Installation view of 'Moholy-Nagy: Future Present' at the Guggenheim Museum
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’ at the Guggenheim Museum
László Moholy-Nagy, "A 19" (1927), oil and graphite on canvas, 80 × 95.5 cm (courtesy Hattula Moholy-Nagy, © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
László Moholy-Nagy, “A 19” (1927), oil and graphite on canvas, 80 × 95.5 cm (courtesy Hattula Moholy-Nagy, © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “Nickelplastik mit Spirale (Nickel Sculpture with Spiral)” (1921), nickel-plated iron, welded, 14 1/8 x 6 7/8 x 9 3/8 inches
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “Vertical Black, Red, Blue” (1945), oil and incised lines on Plexiglas on original base; László Moholy-Nagy, “Twisted Planes” (1946), Plexiglas and steel
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “B-10 Space Modulator” (1942), oil and incised lines on Plexiglas, in original frame, 16 7/8 x 11 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches
László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy, “Space Modulator CH for Y” (1942), oil and incised lines on Formica, 60 5/8 x 23 13/16 inches; “Space Modulator CH for R1” (1942), oil and incised lines on Formica, 62 3/16 x 25 9/16 inches
László Moholy-Nagy, "Space Modulator" (1938-40), oil and graphite pencil on linen, 47 x 47 inches
László Moholy-Nagy, “Space Modulator” (1938-40), oil and graphite pencil on linen, 47 x 47 inches
moholynagy25
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
Installation view of 'Moholy-Nagy: Future Present'
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
moholynagy22
László Moholy-Nagy, “Nuclear II” (1946), oil and graphite on canvas, 49 3/4 x 49 3/4 inches ; “Nuclear I CH” (1945), oil and graphite on canvas, 38 x 30 inches
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “CH Space 5” (1941), oil and graphite on burlap, 47 1/4 x 47 1/4 inches; “CH BEATA I” (1939), oil and graphite on canvas, 46 7/8 x 47 1/8 inches
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
1930s advertising design by László Moholy-Nagy(
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of two advertisements for the London Underground by László Moholy-Nagy from 1936 and 1937
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
László Moholy-Nagy, “T1” (1926), oil, sprayed paint, incised lines, and paper on Trolit, 55 1/16 x 24 5/16 inches
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present,’ with photograms from the 1920s at right
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present
Installation view of ‘Moholy-Nagy: Future Present’
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present continues through September 7 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan).

lunes, 30 de mayo de 2016

A Native American Artist Who Painted Pop and Challenged the Status Quo

Installation view, 'Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980' at the Phoenix Art Museum (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)
Installation view, ‘Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980’ at the Phoenix Art Museum (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980, currently on view at the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM), features over 40 oil paintings and prints by the Luiseño artist. The exhibition celebrates the work, influence, and ethos of Scholder, who left an indelible mark not only on the contemporary Native art world but on the mainstream art world as well.
Installation view, ‘Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980’
Installation view, ‘Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980’ at the Phoenix Art Museum (click to enlarge)
Walking into the exhibition space at PAM, the first thing I noticed — and was pleasantly surprised by — was the amount of real estate the museum devoted to this show. It’s uncommon for encyclopedic museums to showcase the work of a contemporary Native artist; more often than not, when they do focus on Native art, they mount mostly historical shows, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Plains Indians exhibition last year, further perpetuating the myth that Native Americans no longer exist. Though Scholder passed away in 2005, the impact of his work on contemporary American Indian artists is palpable. He was one of the first Native artists to find mainstream success while explicitly rejecting the status quo of representation, and that influence is evident today in the work of people like Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga/Nez Perce), Cannupa Hanska Luger (Lakota/Mandan/Hidatsa), and Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke). At PAM, the expansive gallery space is filled with saturated yellows, pinks, and purples, echoing Scholder’s second-generation Pop art affiliation. In his time, Scholder worked alongside many mainstream Pop artists, including Andy Warhol, who immortalized him in a portrait that’s also included here. The setup nicely illustrates the hybridity that Scholder played with throughout his career, between being a “Native” artist and an “American” one.
Fritz Scholder, "Super Indian No. 2" (1971), oil canvas, Promised gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of Denver Art Museum (© Estate of Fritz Scholder) (click to enlarge)
Fritz Scholder, “Super Indian No. 2” (1971), oil canvas, Promised gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of Denver Art Museum (© Estate of Fritz Scholder) (click to enlarge)
The show gets its title from the painting “Super Indian No. 2” (1971), part of Scholder’s Indian Series. Set against an acrid yellow wall, the monumental work looms over you. It features a figure dressed in a loin cloth, horned buffalo warbonnet, and moccasins sitting against a flat background; his face is darkened by shadow as he holds a bright pink ice cream cone. At first the sitter appears ominous, almost scary, but upon closer inspection, the face of this unknown other is in fact draped in a melancholy sweetness, a longing to be understood. The piece lays the groundwork for the narrative arc of the exhibition, which traces Scholder’s exploration of the psychological state of Native America, hitting on ideas of representation, misrepresentation, and stereotype along the way.
Scholder’s portraits — here given a section of their own — are particularly powerful. Large-format canvases in the vein of Pop art present imagery that seems to dance between stereotypes of American Indians and the agency of self-representation. One painting shows a chief with a feather in his hair and one eye blacked out; his other gazes at the viewer. His mouth is drawn straight, almost emotionless. The chief is placed against a red background, referencing the derogatory term “red man” but also life, passion, power, and all sorts of emotions that can be read into that crimson shade. The piece is steeped in stoicism, the preconception that Natives are meant to be seen but not spoken to, purely mythical figures who exist only onscreen, opposite John Wayne. Yet the sitter is self-possessed. He seems to rise above the stereotypes placed on him to meet the viewer directly. He asks us if we are willing to take the time and effort to truly see him.
Fritz Scholder, “American Portrait with One Eye” (1975), acrylic on canvas, Promised Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum (© Estate of Fritz Scholder)
Fritz Scholder, “American Portrait with One Eye” (1975), acrylic on canvas, Promised Gift from Vicki and Kent Logan to the Collection of the Denver Art Museum (© Estate of Fritz Scholder)
Moving deeper into the exhibition, past the portraits, we encounter Scholder’s works that grapple with history, including specific events. One piece, referencing the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, shows a snowy landscape with a sliver of silvery blue sky peeking out at the top, the figure of a horse standing in the distance. In the foreground, an open grave. Mangled bodies with raw flesh exposed tell the tale of troops from the US 7th Cavalry Regiment slaughtering an estimated 300 Lakota. (The site of Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, would make history yet again almost 100 years later during the American Indian Movement occupation in 1973.) The painting pushes the viewer to confront the dark history of the US government’s treatment of Native peoples — a history filled with broken treaties and a disregard for Native life. It feels incredibly relevant today, as several tribal reservations are threatened by energyextraction and police violence against Native Americans increases.
Installation view, 'Super Indian: Fritz Scholder' at the Phoenix Art Museum, with "Massacre in America: Wounded Knee" (1972) in foreground left (click to enlarge)
Installation view, ‘Super Indian: Fritz Scholder, 1967–1980’ at the Phoenix Art Museum, with “Massacre in America: Wounded Knee” (1972) in foreground left (click to enlarge)
The exhibition is powerful and evocative, particularly at a time when Native Americans seem to be pushing for self-determination more strongly than they have since the 1960s and ’70s (which was, coincidentally, the peak of Scholder’s career). It’s truly refreshing to see this much space and consideration given to a contemporary Native artist. Scholder’s work is multifaceted, dancing between beauty and activism.

José-María Cundín at Callan Contemporary

José-María Cundín at Callan Contemporary from Callan Contemporary on Vimeo.

“ORLAN Today”, rétrospective d’une artiste hors norme au FRAC de Caen



“ORLAN Today”, rétrospective d’une artiste hors norme au FRAC de Caen
Le Baiser de l'artiste, sculpture piédestal, ORLAN.
Calque, 4e opération-chirurgicale-performance dite “Opération réussie”, ORLAN.
 
 
Calque, 4e opération-chirurgicale-performance dite “Opération réussie”, ORLAN.


Elle connaîtra le mois prochain la fortune ou l’infortune de sa démarche judiciaire. C’est, en effet, le 7 juin, semble-t-il, que le tribunal de grande instance de Paris examinera les faits motivant les dommages et intérêts réclamés à Lady Gaga par la plaignante : un peu plus de 30 millions de dollars (31,7 millions exactement, soit 7,5 % des gains générés par la chanson Born This Way et le clip afférent). En cause, dans cette affaire, les emprunts assez incontestables faits par Lady Gaga à diverses œuvres de l’artiste enregistrée par l’état civil, depuis le 30 mai 1947, sous le nom de Mireille, Suzanne, Francette Porte, mais qui, depuis les années 60, se présente sous le nom d’artiste, libellé en lettres majuscules : ORLAN. Un nom qui ressemblait à une marque bien avant que ce soit l’usage chez les artistes et qui ne laisse aucun doute sur son intention de se sculpter, en tant que personnage, par touches successives, de se modeler comme un sculpteur le ferait d’un bloc de glaise.
ORLAN accouche d’elle m’aime, ORLAN.
 
ORLAN accouche d’elle m’aime, ORLAN.

Se sculpter, elle le fit très littéralement entre 1990 et 1993, infligeant à son corps une série de neuf opérations esthétiques intitulées La Réincarnation de sainte Orlan. Leur théâtralisation et leur mise en scène apparaissent, rétrospectivement, comme des moments saillants de l’histoire de l’art du xxe siècle. Filmées et retransmises en temps réel (avant que la télé-réalité ne banalise cette façon de faire) dans des espaces d’exposition et alors que le champ médiatique ne disposait pas encore des commodités d’Internet, ces opérations montrent une ORLAN allongée dans le bloc opératoire – habillée par Paco Rabanne ou Issey Miyake – lisant des textes (Le Tiers instruit de Michel Serres), tandis que le bistouri s’affaire sur son visage éveillé – elle demanda à n’être pas endormie totalement, faisant fi de la douleur. 
Madone-Sky and skaï jaune, ORLAN.
Madone-Sky and skaï jaune, ORLAN.
Pour mesurer l’incongruité d’une telle démarche et comprendre son caractère précurseur, il faut la replacer dans le contexte de l’art du début des années 90. En 1992 et 1993, l’exposition Post Humanorganisée par Jeffrey Deitch faisait ainsi des modifications du corps humain et de la naissance des cyborgs son sujet. ORLAN, de son côté, apporte une contribution totalement inédite, et probablement assez inacceptable pour l’époque. À l’instar de toutes les grandes œuvres de l’histoire de l’art, son pouvoir d’étonnement est resté parfaitement intact. L’implication physique de l’artiste, en revanche, nous paraît aujourd’hui particulièrement extravagante, quand les carrières artistiques semblent désormais s’accommoder de toutes les formes possibles de détachement et de désinvolture – et ne se confrontent finalement plus à aucune hostilité. En se livrant à ces opérations, ORLAN ne songeait pas à dénoncer la chirurgie esthétique (on imagine bien comment cette lecture pourrait être faite aujourd’hui), mais à titiller les canons de la beauté féminine dans l’art classique occidental. Elle fit donc modifier sa bouche pour qu’elle soit conforme à celle de la princesse de la mythologie grecque Europe, peinte au xviiie siècle par François Boucher (L’Enlèvement d’Europe, 1747). Elle fit également rectifier son front sur le modèle du Portrait de Monna Lisa (1503) de Léonard de Vinci. Pour son nouveau menton, elle s’inspira de la Vénus de Botticelli (La Naissance de Vénus, 1485). Son ambition était non pas d’atteindre à une supposée beauté supérieure, ou beauté générique, mais de produire une sorte d’hybride qui porterait en lui les stigmates de l’histoire de l’art. Quel projet fascinant quand on y pense, plutôt que de s’inscrire dans l’histoire de l’art, d’inscrire l’histoire de l’art sur soi – comme un fardeau, un rappel – et de donner à tout cela une dimension spectaculaire et médiatique. Un projet, en tout cas, un peu plus substantiel que celui qui conduisit récemment une supposée artiste à se dénuder devant L’Origine du monde de Gustave Courbet au musée d’Orsay – comme le fit Deborah De Robertis le 29 mai 2014. Tout, en la matière, renvoie d’ailleurs aux gestes précurseurs d’ORLAN, qui livra en 1989 sa propre version du tableau de Courbet en remplaçant le personnage féminin par un personnage masculin, pareillement alangui et privé de visage, offrant tout pareillement son sexe au regard du spectateur (L’Origine de la guerre).
Le Baiser de l’artiste, ORLAN.
Le Baiser de l’artiste, ORLAN.
ORLAN a réglé de longue date la question du genre, déclarant être à la fois “une homme et un femme”. En 1977, dans les allées de la FIAC, elle vend un baiser pour cinq francs (Le Baiser de l’artiste), se drape dans des kilomètres de tissu blanc à la manière des statues baroques (Le Drapé-Le Baroque, 1971-1990). Dans les années 80, elle propulse son personnage en héros de films virtuels dont elle crée les affiches. Bref, elle entraîne dans toutes sortes de choix et de gestes ce “double” dont elle a accouché, au sens littéral du terme d’ailleurs, puisqu’en 1964 la photographie ORLAN accouche d’elle-m’aime la représente donnant naissance à un personnage androgyne dont, depuis lors, elle semble écrire l’histoire, modifier le destin. Depuis le début des années 2000, elle le fait essentiellement en utilisant la photographie et les altérations numériques, explorant encore divers canons de beauté. Surtout, elle a donné à ce “personnage” une très réelle vie médiatique, arborant une chevelure bicolore jaune et noir et des lunettes rondes de la même couleur, apparaissant telle une figure de Marvel, de super-héros dont l’accoutrement opère la distinction avec les personnages ordinaires. C’est une manière qu’elle emprunte d’ailleurs plutôt à l’industrie musicale où, de Robert Smith (avec sa crinière ébouriffée et son rouge à lèvres) à Sia (avec ses perruques descendant loin devant ses yeux), il est répandu de se présenter sous l’aspect d’un avatar. 
Masque Janus Ekoi Nigeria et visage de femme euro-forézienne,ORLAN.
Masque Janus Ekoi Nigeria et visage de femme euro-forézienne,ORLAN.
À l’extravagance, ORLAN n’a jamais renoncé, même après que les artistes sont devenus une catégorie banale de la société. À l’heure de “l’artiste entrepreneur”, entouré d’un bataillon d’assistants, surveillant en temps réel sur plusieurs écrans les résultats des ventes aux enchères, le personnage “folklorique” d’ORLAN reste suffisamment dérangeant. Elle assume ce folklore, en rajoute (indiquant aux journalistes venus à la présentation d’une exposition : “Venez voir : du feu sort de mon cul!”), ne cède en rien aux convenances, rappelant ainsi que l’art “contemporain” n’avait pas pour ambition originelle de satisfaire mais d’inquiéter. Elle-même ne semble pas vouloir se satisfaire de la légitimité indiscutable que lui confère son œuvre et entend bien inquiéter encore.

Inquiéter encore et inspirer toujours. L’œuvre d’ORLAN produit invariablement cet effet. En atteste l’une de ses dernières opérations chirurgicales, réalisée à New York en 1993, au cours de laquelle elle fit greffer sur ses tempes deux protubérances d’ordinaire employées pour redessiner le menton. Plus de vingt ans après, ces deux excroissances peu naturelles sont toujours là. ORLAN les maquille souvent d’une poudre pailletée qui les fait doucement scintiller – et observe le regard de ses interlocuteurs qui s’attardent sur ces proéminences insolentes. Ce sont ces protubérances qui sont, entre autres, au cœur du conflit qui ne l’oppose pas tant à Lady Gaga qu’aux directeurs artistiques qui – comme tous les directeurs artistiques (ceux de l’industrie musicale, de l’industrie de la mode ou de toutes sortes d’industries événementielles) – pillent allègrement les inventions des artistes pour les transformer en distractions éphémères.
Masques Pékin Opéra, Facing Designs et réalité augmentée, Selfhybridation Opéra de Pékin n° 2, ORLAN.
Masques Pékin Opéra, Facing Designs et réalité augmentée, Selfhybridation Opéra de Pékin n° 2, ORLAN.
Dans cet univers où de courageuses propositions esthétiques se voient ainsi réduites à un triste mood board, les traces du courage et la fantaisie d’ORLAN semblent être tombées entre les mains de créatifs autrement peu inspirés, et c’est effectivement beaucoup de son univers qui se retrouve dans le clip incriminé de Lady Gaga – des drapés baroques aux implants. C’est presque inévitable, et ORLAN s’en serait accommodée si une demande concrète (et accessoirement polie) avait accompagné cette très littérale citation. Elle inspirera encore, quoi qu’il advienne, comme elle inspira aussi le cinéaste canadien David Cronenberg, censé travailler au début des années 2000 à un film qui aurait raconté l’histoire de Saul Tenser, un artiste “ayant une grande tolérance à la douleur”, inspiré très précisément par ORLAN. C’est ce qui la distingue des autres, en vérité : cette capacité non pas à simplement produire des objets, mais à infliger à l’imaginaire d’inépuisables et délicieuses tortures.


du 23 avril au 20 août.


Par Éric Troncy


BLANCA ORAA MOYUA