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Julien Verhaeghe

Art critic, curator, exhibition curator, teacher-researcher Art (Revue Possible and Art etc)





The choreographed body   (Press release)

(January 2019)




The paintings that Virginie Hucher presents at the Galerie des jours de Lune extend a series launched in 2014. Entitled Le Corps chorégraphié, this anticipates formal research around the body and its potentials by developing a variety of partially geometric configurations.

On this occasion, the first feeling that accompanies the observation of these paintings relates to tranquility and stability. From canvas to canvas, different colored patterns in fact inhabit the surfaces, representing a sort of balance. The limited number of colors - generally three or four - favors the contrasts between different components, just as the almost equal distribution of the colored masses reinforces an impression of cohesion. The result is melodious and proportioned compositions which offer the imagination the possibility of speculating on what is while inviting contemplation. Here, unfinished structures organize deserted and mysterious landscapes; elsewhere, polygonal patterns draw schematic arrangements that appear seen from above, as if it were a map. Sometimes, a dark mass with linear outlines intervenes in the lower part of the painting, so as to trigger an effect of volume or perspective. Articulated at a much paler upper part, it is comparable to a pictorial base, asserting at the same time this idea of ​​stability that is encountered in the statuary arts. Of the body however, no trace, in any case if it is assigned a human physiognomy.

It is then that we must give importance to the process of abstraction implemented by Virginie Hucher. The body is indeed not absent, but different. Here it feeds formal research where imitation, resemblance or identification make little sense. Firstly, because the rejection of anthropomorphism specifies an approach where the body seems to be stasis, shapeless and unorganized, as if it were still at an embryonic stage. This is what gives it the quality of what remains potential and able to happen. Secondly, because the different compositions of Virginie Hucher constantly testify to a fragmented reality: the colored masses with well defined outlines are distinct from each other; one would thus be tempted to identify several autonomous bodies on the canvas space. However, by coexisting with each other in a measured and harmonious way, in a relationship of interdependence, almost in the manner of a choreographed dance, these bodies end up composing an overall impetus, a global body which has the ability to be both one and multiple.

Consequently, these bodies are choreographed not so much because they are part of a kind of cheerful articulation with some of their fellows, reflecting swirling volutes and leaping steps, like a ballet, but because they are part of a logic of autonomous accomplishment. The choreographed body, here present, dances indeed with itself, a little as if it experienced the vicissitudes of its being, of its pictorial flesh, which it aspires to overcome to become a little more than what it is already. Also, in Virginie Hucher's journey, these choreographed bodies undoubtedly describe a very essential framework, in particular because the artist is developing research in parallel, in particular with the series entitled Le Corps and the other which, there too, postulates to a pictorial enunciation of what animates beings, making them desirous and sometimes lonely, with the nuance, however, of fitting into a much more figurative framework. We understand, in the end, that the whole of Virginie Hucher's practice responds to an exploratory quest polarized by eminently pictorial objectives, recalling that the painter's work - whether abstract or figurative - affirms an absolute love for forms which harmonize and the colors which match, for the sense of vision in general, for the sensitive in particular.













The body and the other

(May 2018)





I. Proximity


Bodies that contort, that marry or oppose. Looks that are disjoined or that blend into one another. Gestures which, themselves, spring up and sometimes remain suspended, refusing contact, unlike these hands, these heaps of flesh, which are touching. In all likelihood, an evocation of proximity, in the manner of these characters who go to meet the other, in an irresolute pattern, as if the intentions had been interrupted, cut in momentum or frozen by a form of reserve . Everything seems to derive, in the essentially pictorial practice of Virginie Hucher, from this singular attention paid to these discrete and infinitesimal interactions which cause beings to enter into mutual resonance. Physically, of course, when in these paintings the bodies support and comfort each other, but also on the scale of an imperceptible transmission, a little cerebral or spiritual, when the heads bow, acquiesce or deflect the glances crossed .

We then perceive, in these characters who sometimes stare at each other, sometimes seem weary, as if they had been subject to some meditative dream, a form of slowness. They give the impression of having the purpose of continuing in an unfinished time, so as to consume an interior work which however is written in the yardstick of an attention given to another. We guess abstract intentions, an echo, perhaps a desire, which fails to overcome these uncertainties. If we do not know what the body can, as Spinoza wrote, as we no longer know what it aspires to, in its essential quest for the other, the indecisiveness of these exchanges confirms, however, a deep ambiguity : the sensation which one engages in one's fellow man responds, when one touches it, to that which one experiences oneself; the body affects and in return is affected, which is obvious in the case of physical contact, but just as much, as the Virginie Hucher hypothesis does, when the junction is of an immaterial nature.

These paintings participate, at the level of patterns and figures, of the need to highlight a pictorial aesthetic that would have the body as a foundation. We realize, as we imbibe this ambivalence in touch, that the body never acts alone. In many respects, it only has consistency by making the connection with a adjoining reality: another similar, a contiguous environment, or other attires. One could thus say of the body that it is an intermediary, a kind of position, reminding that to position oneself, it is always necessary to have a reference point. Thus, every body needs the other, which undoubtedly explains the stripping which characterizes the characters depicted, them who all resemble themselves excessively and present pale hues, a little spectral, as if to say that what is incumbent rests not so much on the precision of the lines only on the intervals and the erasures in which they are inserted. On other occasions, the body appears compressed in partially geometric structures; elsewhere, it seems fragmented by the contours of the canvas, which amounts to establishing an imaginary of confinement, all the more so when the backgrounds are black, which they contrast with the whitish nuances of the flesh and clothing, so as to produce a lunar atmosphere. Also, the intervals which these bodies draw and constitute invite to the consideration of invisible exchanges, like breaths which murmur or energies which communicate. Does this mean that the body is a kind of energy vector? Perhaps it is even a most pure manifestation of it? If it is indeed the essential motif of Virginie Hucher's compositions, the body is only a body from the moment it abandons itself and contradicts itself, existing only by virtue of its analogues, abandoning all consistency to become, ultimately, its own opposite.


II. Archeology


The different characters portrayed by Virginie Hucher present hairless and emaciated faces; the expressions are minimal, the whiteness and the gesture, somewhat hieratic, invites to solemnity. One would be tempted to assimilate these characters to old statues of which one would have preserved only the silhouette. These have given up heaviness and compactness to spare a ghostly sketch, like a train or a trace, in order to mark a caressing presence rather than an imposing mass. If the sculptures can be perceived as immutable bodies which facilitate touch - therefore an immediate proximity to reality - here, their pictorial nature requires more examination of what they raise, in terms of imagination or in their strength. 'evocation. The characters of Virginie Hucher, in fact, seem to be located somewhere between the real and the fantastic. The postures are not entirely realistic; the necks lengthen and twist, the gaits are surprisingly threadlike. This relative deviation from reality suggests that what these characters say does not exclusively refer to the faces they espouse. Something is happening beyond the canvas, defying appearances and visibilities, inviting to auscultate inner worlds rather than semblances, as suggested by these half-closed eyes, those eyes that crease when one murmurs something silent secret, by restoring somewhat shaky and meditative capacities, like taking sleep, calling for a form of meditation.

Virginie Hucher's compositions have an archaeological dimension due to their proximity to a traditional sculpture art, to the past. These ageless bodies, alluding to forgotten times, seem rich with a memory that it is important to recover. It is true that the artifacts that go through time are above all memory realities, that these different characters mention innumerable past lives, while archeology, by evoking what remains when everything has disappeared, suggests a semantics of concealment , burial and unveiling. It is then that one may wonder if the allusion to ancient statuary is not a way of affirming, for Virginie Hucher, an original essence characteristic of all beings, once appearances are overcome. The link with the fantastic, the fable or the poetry would be doubled by an allusion to mythology: a primordial story is told by these characters.

On closer inspection, these statuary figures are reminiscent of the mannequin's motif; the one we dress, that we manipulate and disarticulate, the one that remains subject to the goodwill of the shape modeler. The skulls, beardless and slightly domed, have a generic reality, just as the bodies, the faces, seem interchangeable. The bodies are frozen but call for imminent mobility, as if they were called upon to extricate themselves, incessantly, from their eternal silence. We then think of the figure of the Golem, the being or the body which, par excellence, is part of becoming and the power to act; this body especially which, created from scratch with crude materials, channels the tensions between the inert and the living, artifice and nature, creation and procreation. Under these conditions, these figures do not say anything in particular, the inaudible is very real. On the other hand, what transits between them comes from the tiny breath that we lend to life. In fact, in Virginie Hucher's paintings, the feeling of imperceptible presence, the evocation of ancient statuary and the allusion to the primordial narrative intervene not so much to signify worlds that it would be a question of revealing again, as for grasp an essential but unresolved, even supernatural reality; that which originates all beings and gives them the strength to move.  



III. Solitudes


In one of Virginie Hucher's series, an individual dressed in white, colorless skin, stands out from canvas to canvas against a black background. The arms are absent. The posture and the play of looks, indolent and pensive, make the feeling of loneliness particularly meaningful. Switchable and refined, appearances and physiognomies reveal very little, as if they filtered any visual examination, inviting the observer to cross these membranes of flesh, of paint, so that he takes the measure of intimate worlds that are definitely elusive .

In this, everything happens as in the art of portraiture, where the finery and the artifices which dress an individual do not count as much as the surreptitious evocations of the soul, so as to lend to a personality the traits which make it singular . However, solitude also designates the faculty of finding oneself facing oneself. This is what makes it possible to say, on the scale of Virginie Hucher's work, that an overall framework remains in order to shape dialogues between the identical and the difference, between the self and the other. These abandoned characters from canvas to canvas are indeed the same, but their enigmatic isolation prevents them from ruling on the exact nature of their concerns. If no one can say what they are thinking about, it is because all the interpretations and ways of being oneself coexist in the same space. In other paintings by the artist, several characters are made up of each other, offering a vision of similarity and repetition as soon as one fails to anchor them, there too, in any correspondence with real individuals. . Each of them ends up looking like what it was before, the notion of portrait is rejected, hence a fundamental questioning: of which characters are these bodies the representation?

Alone, but several at the same time, these identical bodies and characters seem to say that loneliness is shared, that it is achieved in contact with others, even with an abstract projection of oneself, as if at using a mirror. It is then that we can emphasize the eminently androgynous character of these faces; here they are marked by the undecided and hesitant who express themselves deeply beyond the flesh, bypassing the one and unchanging identity, so as to touch a variable essence. The masculine is no longer opposed to the feminine, each one is made up of the other, just as the external definitions which control genders and types are put aside: being is not one or the other , it is both.

In Virginie Hucher's paintings, the figure of the androgyne therefore acts in such a way as to allow the coexistence of realities reputed to be contrary, just as it does not constitute a figure in itself, firm and unalterable, but a latent space, crisscrossed possibilities and virtualities. The unfinished nature of certain elements that came to inhabit these paintings confirms this impression of potential. The body fragments, the hands that move in the air or these incomplete perspectives, which draw unreal spaces, induce a form of suspension, of waiting, with regard to an upcoming event, as if an imminent reality was going to arise . Time seems to stretch, it is seized between two poles which would manifest a multitude of intermediate variations, tiny but real, evading the determinations too binary in favor of a sensitive metaphysics where what prevails is the multiplicity of being. The idea of ​​representation would therefore be contradicted, to the extent that the act of translating one reality linearly into another constitutes a form of determination which would take the risk of ignoring the diffuse and voluble nature of things. Here, there is no determination, but movements and movements, exchanges and changes. Every body needs another, we said, just as no solitude is truly depopulated. These characters therefore do not represent any particular individual, because they would have had to, for this, choose between the masculine and the feminine, go to one end of the spectrum of possibilities and remain motionless. The bodies they borrow are never ultimate destinations, they are rather containers facilitating complex trajectories; what transits through them is very imponderable: force, energy, desire, that is to say, these impulses which have neither shape nor outline.

In the end, if Virginie Hucher's practice thus consists of several strata, this is also due to the singularity of her perception of the world, of the real, of an indefinable mechanism which draws from the contradictions of the motifs allowing the conception of the multiple in everything. It is the body that channels such patterns, but the most astonishing, after all, appears when we realize that it is only the entry point to prospections of the order of the mental landscape. and imagination. A certain success accompanies this work, now that it gives to perceive, with the going of a formal research, the other, our neighbor, in its existential entanglement, but above all, in its proximity to ourselves.





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