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Planks, Needles, Prints, Claude Bouyeure, 1991

Galerie Montenay, March 7th to March 30th 1991
The work goes on. Unwaveringly, uncompromisingly she marches on, draped in faithfulness to her process. Year after year, though, a new virginity is celebrated. This tends to discover, not just new figures but unvarying sense. That hinges on risk and accident.

Claude de Soria’s generic experimenting with her material, cement, centres on conflict and physical confrontation. The brilliance of these confrontations introduces a double tremor and a detachment. There is the marvellous (from the Latin mirabilia, things that are surprising, inexplicable phenomena). And there is the unsuspected. At the same time arises a rhetoric of paired opposites, that the cement brings about through its very nature: breaking out/tameness, discretion/persistence, lightness/depth, promptness/stability, darkness/light, opaqueness/transparency…

Beyond these opposites, digging down, a more cardinal opposition springs, between “what is” and “what is not”. In other words, there is the material in its initial, powdery state and its condensed, statuesque, initially unpredictable destiny. During the work process, an obstacle is put un place, is tested and overcome. This process generates sudden spurts, conversations, breaks, contradictions, withdrawals, impatience…

Since 1973, cement has allowed her a range of moments, and a range of worlds. A range, every element of which contains the germ of figures to come. Thus from Plaques to Ouvertures (Openings), via Boules, Tiges (Stalks), Lames (Blades) and Contre-Lames (Counter-Blades). Now, in the spring of 1991, an exhibition is divided into three episodes: Lattes, Aiguilles and Empreintes.

For my part, I tend to call Claude de Soria’s Lattes, “Voliges” or “Slats” because they are so like the slats upon which roof-slates are fixed. They stand alone or in twosomes and threesomes, long, standing stones striped with scars, thin cloven lines, that perhaps represent an obsessive enquiry into the notion of interval. The marks are horizontal or sometimes slightly diagonal. They tend to interrupt the verticality of the Lattes. One gazes at these volumes in an orderly or disorderly fashion, moving from one to the next at will, retracing one’s steps, mentally distinguishing diptychs and triptychs, noting dominant themes, more or less clear connections between the different pieces. Nonetheless, something in the repetition of uprights and the contested verticality keeps bettering strict logical coherence. Sometimes it is the grain of the material, sometimes the figure, a pure, geometrical line, very mineral, rising like a portico, a megalith, a wall, rooted in soil, that catches the eye.

The nature of this unexpectedness calls space itself into question. A vital and obscure sense in which, for instance, one instinctively knows top from bottom and left from right. Philosophers have long enquired as to “where” this apparently innate sense arises. Or perhaps it comes in the first years of life, a sense of direction but really just a way remaining upright and walking.

Aiguilles are made in necessary haste. The artist first spreads cement paste on a plate designed to slow its spread prior to setting. She takes this by the edges, sends the cement inwards. By stopping its course, by turning it from outwards to inwards, a long hollow is made. This expands before here eyes, like friendly sea-swell. The eye is driven into the hollow, which opens further, exclaims like a wave, an arrow let fly by the sea, a fruit bursting, and reveals the crystal of its night.

Empreintes are the direct product of Lattes. Fragments of translucid sheets that produce, by the way they are laid out in layers, like slate or roof-tiles on slats, the horizontal tracks across her Lattes. Once the cement is removed, they preserve a trace of it: mistakes, in the form of infinitely small spots that lie scattered over the transparencies, like condensed air, only solid, which touches space and yet at the same time lightens it and liberates it. The word “weight” evokes poise and reflection. And, all things considered, how much does air weigh? What does it represent? A totality? Sun and earth, seed, stars? Or a minimal gesture, picking up sand and letting it spill through one’s fingers, a sign that all you can grasp is forever elusive.

Claude Bouyeure