In her fourth solo exhibition at Galerie Xippas, Valérie Belin will present two new series of photographs: Masks and Chips.
The series Masks, similar to her previous series Mannequins and Doubles, is composed of “portraits.” However, differing from the preceding ones, in which one observed reality in order to notice the fallacious, the masks – photographs done in the “realist” style – do not make illusions. The object is immediately presented with its function as an illusory and grotesque disguise, but the face that disengages itself from it also reaches a certain level of plausibility. One could say, perhaps, that the grotesque becomes reality.
Corroborating her interest in the “trivial,” Valérie Belin photographed bags of potato chips, purchased in different supermarkets throughout England. In this new series, the artist reveals abstraction’s bet against an unanticipated modification in the subject. The photographs are presented as strict “equivalents” of the photographed object. The paradox thus rests in the transformation of the subject through the work’s minimal protocol: enlargement and suppression of color. The tautology of the artist’s technique and the negation of the subject that she introduces allow these photographs to act much like the monochrome in painting; the only difference is that here, what remains in the “depth” of the subject is not color, but a motif.
Manifest in these two new bodies of work is the artist’s consistent concentration on objects “without quality,” or, more precisely, without import – at times almost kitsch – but susceptible to the conversion of presence into illusion and illusion into presence. Thus, the masks become vacant faces, and the chip bags, in their extravagant decor, become bodies emptied of life. This evocative power, which seems to exceed the limits of the subject in an image, is launched in Valérie Belin’s work from a minimal “process” which adheres perfectly to the logic of her medium; the fixation of reflected light on a susceptible surface transforms the image into a specter.
Valérie Belin was born in 1964; she lives and works in Paris. Since her first solo exhibition at Galerie Xippas in 1998, she has shown regularly in France and abroad: She is represented by Brent Sikkema in New York and Galerie Ulrich Fiedler in Cologne (Germany); Galerie Patrick De Brock in Kn.