Amuleto – Roberto Bolaño @ Galerie Jérôme Pauchant, Paris

« It’s all in the nerves. The nerves that tense and relax as you approach the edges of companionship and love. The razor-sharp edges of companionship and love. »[1]

Amuleto, Roberto Bolaño, 1999

Free from the object-picture idea, the tools of painting are used to only keep the “sidelines”. The marks created by the work done within the studio are seized to make what usually remains experimentation visible. Conversely to a scientific experiment, the practice does not benefit to any hypothesis or statement. In a constant reformulation, the formal recycling confines to a stammering state. This methods thus justifies a serial work, in which the remaining material becomes an absolute one, in other words it becomes a deed.

“amuleto” gathers thirteen sculptures within the gallery space, Untitled – Amulet (2016-2017), in a landscape made of sizeable canvases (linen, hemp, cotton, shipping canvas…) tied up as South African amulets. Traditionally, the knots personify the desire to control everyday life practical aspects. To knot is a symbol: metaphorically, the hand activates the world.

Because of its original definition, we commonly think that the amulet – a masculine noun used in the Critical Dictionary of French language (1787-1788) – is a lucky charm to carry with you. However, woody vines’ knots as seen in the forest, which represent a great power for ties and connections, can be found in various African populations. In order to get protection from the nature’s genius, seen as a hostile environment, the amulet uses its own elements (wood, roots, cotton, minerals…).

More than the animistic idea, which makes the natural process a spirit, the artwork lies in the process of creation itself. In the case of an amulet, this is a wish conceptualized in the primitive gesture of making knots; in case of an artwork, it is the thought. In a performative action, the meaning merges with the enunciation: « It’s not described, it’s happening ».[2]

The works are the testimony of a previous confrontation, invisible like the amulet, which is “the continuation, even remote, of a rite which works without ceremony”[3]. The painting’s canvas carries, centralizes and celebrates the past facts: it “vestiges” the work. The object sets up duration. It is a totem for an event that took place in a coincidence between intentions and luck.

Border with the exotic, “amuleto” gives a land to the encounter with anthropologic culture and cult. It marries the cultural and dogmatic inheritance of writing with the traditions from the language’s replicas and mutations. Untitled – amulet (2016-2017) invests the transmission’s in-between – oral or graphic – of the elements of belief. The project necessary characterizes these dialectics since the thing, said over again, endures evolutions and the thing, written, decides by its alien positioning. Thus, the idea of concept tends towards the one of spiritual. Ceasing to be general, it becomes individual and abstract.

[1] Amulet, Roberto Bolaño, 1999.
[2] Cy Twombly, 2000, by David Sylvester, June 2000.
[3] Amulettes et talismans d’Afrique Noire, (Black Africa’s Amulets and talismans), Laure Meyer, 2010.
© Aurélie Belair. Courtesy Galerie Jérôme Pauchant, Paris.


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