Blades and Counter-Blades, Maurice Benhamou, 1985
De Soria enjoys enigma. She kneads sand and cement in liquid, then watches the state of her material at its tipping-point: she sees it set into order and pass from non-origin to origin, from magma to structure, to a sudden organic equilibrium of matter, a thing that lies at the root of what we call beauty. Fascinated by the quintessential mystery of creation, she places her work not at the birth of sculpture but at the origins of form.
“Nature”, according to Schlegel, “Speaks to us as long as we ourselves remain silent.” Claude de Soria’s work is not dumb. It is about silence. Active, vigilant silence. De Soria sets up conditions for an event to appear and provokes a creative rush. You could call this the protocol of her aesthetic experiment, a crucial one to the extent that the hypothesis to be verified is not, of course, that the original setting can be repeated at any time but that the life that goes with it should remain forever new and unpredictable. De Soria subverts what the industry expects of cement as it sets by applying an even more inert medium, plastic film, used, not as a mould, but as an element of interface (in the days of Plaque Rondes (“Round Plaques”) the plastic itself was exposed alongside the forms.) In this way indelible memory is shown to sit at the heart of an apparently dull matter.
The shape of these Lames is so clearly necessary that it seems to be intrinsic to the material used. Literally employed. Has De Soria noticed that the shape of her sculptures over these last years, balls, stalks, disks, blades, constitute the only forms of molecular structure that are found in intermediate states of matter? Their truth is thus not a “reflection”, it truth itself. An enigma as it suddenly forms.
The elementary form of a blade penetrates the material fact of sculpture to such an extent that it could be said that the energy of this shape suffices to give the material its formal consistence.
The material is about matter. Matter is about energy. The plastic film blocks the moment of setting in order seize a motus initialitis at birth. It stops the dissipation of surface accidents in their dynamic spontaneity and stops the material in its freedom.
From one blade to the next, the variation is infinite because, as in Heraclitus, nothing is ever repeated. Honeycombing, lesions, smooth or granular surfaces are concentrated or dispersed in unexpected and complex configurations and this fuses presence, a mysteriousness of life that hard cement is able to capture delicately and with sensitivity. Unchanging motion. The presence involved is not, as in a picture, counterfeit. It is reality, present and alive. One might, if one chose, detect figures of cosmic fields at the surface. But one can also decide not to apply a code to this profusion of reality that nothing can hide. The sculptor’s anti-expressive neutrality should encourage an attitude of pure enquiry in the viewer, that is not, on the contrary, free of emotion.
The frayed edges of these blades have nothing to do with what might be the effect of a tormented inner life but they ought not either provoke, even involuntarily so, a metaphorical gaze. Their “meaning” must coincide with a physical reality.
One might be surprised to learn that the artist uses no varnish of any sort anywhere, no wax. The glaze effect, the browning and infinite smoothness of the surfaces arise out of contact with plastic alone, as the glaze on a photographs comes from the touch of a glass plate. The depth of nuance, from white to brown, the spread of colours, are not arbitrary either. They are unquestionable as the marks on plane-tree bark for instance. Matter altered. A trace of paste in motion. Accidents of petrification. Colour is of one substance with the material, never added.
The north wind grazes King David’s harp one night so it starts to sing of its own accord. It sings as David would have had it sing, only with more freedom. It is not possible to assess what part of creative person plays in creating their creations. They are entirely responsible for what happens. When the subjective vanishes, things free up. In arranging a significant space for matter, has not Claude de Soria opened up a new path for sculpture, where the redundancy of matter and sculptured object is abolished.
“Beauty,” according to Schelling, “Is a finite presentation of the infinite.” It is better not to expect infinity of artists. It is enough to ask each of these Lames and Contre-Lames an ancient question; “Guard, what do you know of the night?”