Anne-Sophie De Franceschi
Cultural action delegate of the UPJV - Picardie University Jules Verne Amiens
Fix the ephemeral
Fixing the ephemeral on a canvas, moving from the dance movement to the fixed image, by this other gesture that is painting, this is what drives the work to which Virginie Hucher has worked since the series Le corps chorégraphié, and that she continues with these imposed Figures.
The course is not new, it could even seem rather untimely: how to do better after Degas, that the impressionist approach urged to rediscover the very movement of the bodies, but above all to surprise the moments between the dance, young girls surprised behind the scenes adjusting a tutu, lights passing from behind the scenes to the stage, bar exercises ...
The photo then could have rendered this pictorial effort in vain: its instantaneousness makes it possible to grasp the movement in the most spectacular way, and admirably emphasizes by fixing the very figures, eminently graphic of the dance: the vocabulary of classical dance always speaks of "Draw" his arms, "placement" of the body, "figures" finally and above all. This art of movement therefore intimately always refers to the still image. The art of photography, developed and born before “modern” dance, immediately took as its object choreographic representation: Nadar seeks in cards and daguerreotypes to expose dancers at the cost of long studio poses of a quarter hour, then Isadora Duncan is already immortalized by Paul Berger in 1900. Ninjinski develops one of the first true artistic collaborations with a photographer, Adolf de Meyer, which allows to see what was the Afternoon of a fauna.
Since then, these collaborations have not stopped, the genre of dance photography getting closer and closer to capturing movement thanks to the development of instantaneity. The American critic Elizabeth Mac Causland defines dance photography as the art of producing "an image, which without being able to move, or ever hope to do so, seems to be on the point of achieving it." "
It is this point where the still image "seems" to join the movement and exalts the light that fascinates throughout the twentieth century choreographers, photographers and audiences, despite the invention of the film, which makes it possible to immortalize the movement itself. As early as 1933, Paul Zahar regretted that an overly intellectualist passage removed the dance from the canvases of contemporary painting, and called it "the practice of these themes of inertia" (landscape, still life, nude) among wild animals. particular, means, for the critic, the first phase of a stage of "ankylosis", which characterizes modern painting, incapable according to him of going beyond a form of indolence, which he attributes to the odalisques of Matisse. As for cubism, he sees in it a dynamism which arises from the collision of forms but does not allow man to move.
At no time, Marcel Zahar, contemporary of the emergence of modern dances and modern painting, does not associate this desertion of the pictorial field with the place taken by photography, he sees only a movement proper to it. pictorial art itself.
The question remains pressing at the start of the 21st century: why and how to paint what seems radically opposed to the pictorial field, when other media have so beautifully taken hold of choreographic art?
Virginie Hucher would perhaps answer, because dance is obviously part of her life, the daughter of a dancer, a dancer herself as an amateur, but above all a painter, she simply does not imagine cultivating these deep furrows of her personality separately.
With the Body choreographed series, the colorful abstraction of forms allowed him to start again from the choreographic writing itself to highlight the rhythm itself, punctuated by bold and clear colors, which is reminiscent of the art of colorful composition at Manessier's, in the middle of the XXth century, particularly in its stained glass windows. At Virginie Hucher's, too, light decomposes in colors to represent a rhythm proper to life, the rhythm of the same day and the movements of nature in Manessier, the rhythm of the body in movement - still life - for Virginie Hucher.
The series Les Figures imposées returns to figuration to show how choreographic culture is a culture of the constrained body, a work on the isolation of limbs and joints, a work where each member develops a codified language which allows him to meet others dancers: dance is a mode of communication, which supposes a grammar and a vocabulary, the famous figures whose goal, in linguistics, is first of all to allow the exchange with all those who share the same codes. Thus the painted figures seem to clash sometimes, exchanging intense looks, whose strength is underlined by a play of cold colors and great graphic clarity.
Figures therefore allow bodies to meet, as the great duets offered here seem to express.
But for that they impose themselves as a straitjacket for the individual, to the body of women in particular in an immemorial way, which transmit the classical forms of dance, which are not the favorites of Virginie Hucher, and which she shows here. possible violence suffered or consented to by the dancer herself, in the name of what she sets out to express. The members are then isolated, placed on nocturnal backgrounds, locked in a cage, and finally objectified, unlike an idea of freedom often linked to movement. The big subjects have no hair, like the classical dancers with tied, disciplined hair, to leave all the space to the only glance and the intensity of the face, so that no unexpected movement comes to disturb a message wanted as perfectly control.
The strength of Virginie Hucher's painting therefore lies in her ability, not to represent dance, but to make us go through its experience almost as a dancer, or rather a dancer, so much her universe, perhaps is it an impression of the woman that I am, seems to me to be linked to the variety of feminine experiences of the body, from constraint through expression through the play of conventions, from a liberating movement to the objectification of the body, that our modern societies are still struggling to push back.