Colette, Metaphysical Portraits & Other Experiments from Laboratoire Lumiere, 2014
Metaphysical Portraits & Other Experiments from Laboratoire Lumiere
February 18 - March 23, 2014
Undercurrent, New York, NY
To view works from the show click here
"Colette is the most imitated artist of our time, first Lady Gaga in the windows of Barneys and now Tilda Swinton at the MOMA," notes Anton Perich, and it’s a sentiment echoed by many.
If you’re still debating which exhibition to make time for this March, look no further. In their premier exhibition, Undercurrent (formerly Peanut Underground) is showing an installation of new works by the artist Colette.
Colette’s Metaphysical Portraits reinterpret the classical art of portraiture. "They are my interpretation of the subjects ever changing inner life, their identity may not easily be deciphered and I sometimes transform them if they are in near proximity” notes the artist.
Beginning her career as a painter, Colette is internationally acclaimed for her pioneering work in street art, performance art, tableaux vivants and the constructed photograph, which brought her avant-garde work to the public eye in the 1970s and was influential to generations of artists to follow.
COLETTE LUMIERE: METAPHYSICAL PORTRAITS & OTHER EXPERIMENTS FROM LABORATOIRE LUMIERE at Undercurrent Projects, NYC- feb. 18 th to 23 rd. ( 215 east 5th st)
Colette Lumiere’s recent show at East Village gallery Undercurrent Projects was perfectly described by it’s name “Metaphysical portraits & other experiments from Laboratoire lumiere “. Recent set of paintings on canvas, portraits done in a very delicate sublime manner, light colors, light application of paint , sometimes stiching, and interventions on surface materiality resulting in almost ghostly, subliminal on the edge of materiality ,spiritual images of recognizable, almost unearthly images of man and women.
The concept of this project rest on Colette's long personal history as pioneer of performance and time based work; paintings, the objects are secondary in the service of the larger intention of the show. or more accuratly are part of a greater whole. That’s understandable by knowing scope of her performances and installations, but something interesting happens : If you look at them carefully ,the paintings strangely and correctly named Metaphysical, are extremely delicate and fragile. Colette is best known as a multi media artist , recognized for her pioneering work in installation and performance, not primarily as a “painter”. She prefers no category and has explored , varied materials. These portraits are artifacts of her latest life lived as Art project. When you look at them exclusively on their own individual merit, as “paintings,” they are startling in their honesty, on the edge between physical and spiritual, almost disappearing in thin air in front of our eyes. You know that every person depicted has a very precise reason in being included in her selection of faces. They include current “ pop icons “& “art stars” some ,who have might have previously crossed her path , but mostly those in her current circle of friends & colleagues , basically people who interwove themselves publicly and privately in Colette's public persona as well private one.
To read fully this set of paintings and the space installation she created by inhabiting the art gallery, it helps , for the spectator to be initiated in Colette’s long carrier as “Life as Art”, because this show has a logical space in dialectics of her work. As I mentioned before, the surprising new element, is that the individual portrait paintings can be isolated from this continuity of her work and taken out of her context and be examined on their own, They are individual components and can be appreciated in this isolation as intriguing explorations into the soul and humanity of the subjects, helped by their unique execution. The fragility of the images intensified by their physical modesty is seductive in their full of light and air coloration, that made me think of Venetian painters of late Renaissance, Baroque and French Rococo. These works are standing almost as a personal last stand against the horror monster show of images produced by late capitalizem’s merger of mass media entertainment and visual culture in its overwhelming aggressive and violent imagery, where Warholian model was adopted beyond anything imagined into a Frankainstain a monster of our consciousness and nightmares. It’s interesting that at first glance, some of the paintings may bring to mind some of early Warhol drawings,. However, Colette was never being co-opted or digested by the monster of capitalism manifesting in its purest form in so called “Art world market”, so in a way there's some common starting point this two artists share, but Warhol and many others following him morphed into something beyond what function of art is or supposed to be; as a stream of light emanating from light house that in the fog of life gives you some direction and sense of space and time. Colette's oeuvre kept that sincerity, and it shines brilliantly in the form of these portraits.
In conversation with Colette about the show, she mentioned the devastating losses of her live work space on Pearl St., where the time based work of her life as art was shaping a constant changing environment art installation, and more recently the loss bought by Sandy of her modular installation “ laboratoire Lumiere( storage/ studio ) located underground in the west village near the highway. Although she was able to retrieve after 9 ft under of water , most of her archive and lifes work, she was still feeling vulnerable and fragile by life's uncertainties and longed to return to something pure ; clear since her beginnings, to heal and resurrect herself from this strange sort of death .This series of Metaphysical paintings and the environment she created at this gallery during the duration of the show was part of this process. The given location ,was a perfect situation for her” alchimism” in transforming almost in Beuy’s shamanistic manner an almost unworkable space, by inhabiting in it with her time and persona into a space of art. All those large forces that are swiping in violent waves through NYC were tamed by Colette in this perfect meditative space , and its luminous metaphysical portraits, ”
"Colette fascinates us not only because she is a pioneer of being a living art piece- Before Cindy Sherman, Madonna or Lady Gaga ever interrogated the constructed nature of identity she made a name "Colettesizing " her world- but also because she is a true New York eccentric who never veers from her wild and unique vision..."
(Peter Davis for Vs magazine, September 2012)
"...until the seventies artists only painted the landscape... Colette instead of painting the landscape created the landscape and became part of it...
What we have in Colette is the depiction of the female body, the gaze of the female body...that historically only men have done...suddenly done by a woman artist...who seizes her own body....She really is a source, she used her person, her body and the use of persona historically long before Cindy Sherman, for ex... If we look from Jeff Koons to Madonna for ex...we see that she is a very important artist and has not received the recognition she deserves..." (excerpts by Peter Selz speaking on Colette's historical contribution; Colette the Artist, Documentary by Paul Tschinkel, 1993)
"She has taken the arena of assemblage and taken it to public spaces - from museums to galleries to the streets, shop windows, discos, restaurants...if you could think of it Colette has probably done it." (excerpt by Alanna Heiss, Colette the Artist, Documentary by Paul Tschinkel, 1993)
"...the geisha of feminism...(that is prior to "lipstick feminism".)" (excerpt by Bill Arning, Colette the Artist, Documentary by Paul Tschinkel, 1993)
"Colette is a young artist who has already made a serious contribution to two significant areas of contemporary art: the creation of a total environment; and the use of the artist's own body as an instrument of expression. In her work, these two areas, while they may be analyzed separately, are in fact integrated...an achievement worth noting in itself." (Sarah Faunce, Brooklyn Museum, 1976)