TERRAIN AMÈRE by LULÙ NUTI at GALERIE CHLOE SALGADO [from 20210519 to 20210703]

[Photos: Grégory Copitet]

At the beginning, the first gesture, the inaugural gesture was to cast the Earth, like an ironic demiurge, by objectifying it and clinging to the material– plaster and concrete– to save the imprint before its disappearance. Lulù Nuti still dwelled in the "age of spheres" as described by Peter Sloterdijk, the time when one believed to be able to hold the earth in their hands, from a block. Now in the shadow of suspicion, that period seems definitively over. After exhilarating views of the cosmos, after having set sail on modern caravels, it is now a question of finding mother earth– here lies bitterness, perhaps. Some debris from these journeys both near and far lie like fragments dispersed from a persistent hope, despite everything. These pieces of globes stand as the sedimented remains of an ambition thus perpetuated out of concern for responsibility– not to throw anything away– and a desire to keep the traces of a past condemned to crumble yet persists.

Because Lulù Nuti modestly invites us to enter the bitter land of memory. The collapsing of ecosystems that haunt her through her works find an echo in more intimate catastrophes while the window to the world changes perspective. For centuries, painters framed landscapes and geometric minds celebrated the victory of the straight line, and thus of conquering reason over Nature. Now, it is we who are kept behind bars which no longer frame the world at an attempt to order it– both by tidying it up and by giving it demands– but condemn us to a prison that we have constructed for ourselves. We stare at a limited horizon, we lament our captured future. The bars singe with their immobile leaves frozen in an eternal autumn, and pick us up with a paradoxical hospitality: you who enter, leave all hope... We dreamt of embracing the infinite, to fulfill our dreams freely, voraciously, and here we are docking on the shores of the bitter land. Nature– which, according to the ancients, liked to hide– comes back to the forefront under other names and other forms reminding us of her fierce adversity with these glittering barb wires. In our empty skies, the idea of divine punishment resonates like an old antenna in the air. The tale of a rebellious nature dominated by the modern man emerges from environmental catastrophes, beating man’s technicist pride into the ground to put him in his rightful place. Yet, he still seems too deaf to this calling. Will this barred window open to a new iron age? Lulù Nuti models immemorial materials, earth elements, and welcomes a balance. Copper, traditionally associated to Venus and the feminine, and thus fertility, aides the growth of the plants. Yet, in quantities too large, it harms their vitality. All these circuits of interdependence, when we listen to the, whisper to us to be careful with the eurhythmics of the world, so easy to throw out of harmony.

Iron age, perhaps, but also an age of undoing: the prison, beyond its gates, is transmuted into liberation for Lulù Nuti, leading to introspection. After having built reassuring structures of concepts where the artist, too, liked to hide, Lulù Nuti strips off to go to the assault of her inner self. Her concrete cubes seizing the world were already serrated with cracks, nevertheless contained, resulting from hazardous but wanted deflagrations. But what happens when the implosion is in itself, when the inner shaking becomes a tectonic shock? The landscapes become the receptacles of the world’s hostility and its long disdainful dangers. The mountains– here red and blue, primary like their bitter colors– are drawn by some diffused lines to define the impossible. Matter and memory join forces in the diffused charcoal dusting. The crystallize memories– the last voyage– in fragments, and the proof is that of impression and pain. The peaks neighbor the chasms like the two faces of life. Death prowls around, sketched with the fingertips, without ostentation or voyeurism, because the display of grief does not make its shadow recede. The word grief seems more accurate than the overly psychoanalytical word mourning, as Barthes wrote in his Journal. In this grief, we find the echo in the mountain that folds iron, that twists it as pain can contort the stomach. These concentric arcs recall the circles in water formed when a child throws a stone in it and thus becomes aware of itself by noticing its action on the world. The movements of the soul are externalized in this silent cry which modulates matter. In their reverberation, they seek to retain the ghosts.

Yet, Lulù Nuti resists the elegiac temptation: not the abdication within her, but the possibility of new arrangements– we can move mountains. Like the titles of these exhibitions with various meanings, these works are subject to re-composition. Nothing is lost, everything is transformed, she also seems to declare when we leaf through Autoproduction, a small publication with secret perfumes where photographs of works produced by the artist are superimposed on those of family jewels deposited in banks. We enter the bitter land of the condition of the artist, the underside of her art, but this disrobing finds an unravelling without drama: the jewels, here consigned, allow for other treasures.

The work is constantly weaving the singular and the universal, the personal and the impersonal, the past and the present, and it is in its ellipses, in its gaps that the spectators and their personal histories can slip in. What good are artists in these catastrophic times? Against the injunction to immediate resilience and false smiles, the artist gracefully invites to a sharing of the pain. Her works ricochet like challenges to despair, assuming the negative, the white, the silence, and the play of purity and lines. In her wake, one can then smell the bittersweet fragrances.

[Text: Ysé Sorel / Translation by Katia Porro]

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