Sabien Witteman or corrosive figuration.
Even more than with American Pop' Art, one day, in France we will have to re-evaluate the impact of narrative figuration on the most recent expressions of visual arts. The way young artists persistently insist on taking hold of a painting combining images born from reality is probably more important than critical current approaches leading the path to contemporary art, with novelty (ways and means) as the only criterion. Yet, through analysis, more than one artist could reveal himself as the true descendant of painters, who, in the 1960s shared the territory of images, until then exclusively reserved to painting, with photography and the cinema. We particularly think about Bernard Rancillac, Jacques Monry, Erro, Gérard Fromanger, among others…
Like them, Sabien Witteman builds her purpose from the photographs she takes, and then mixes to a host of common objects and quotations chosen within our contemporary cultural references. In her practice, like in a collage, clash is clearly the most efficient way of provoking tension within the image. Thus the critical, ironic and often sharp outlook on the powerful men from the ecomomic world, that she portrays. To the refined representatives of the ruling class, she adds an irreverent Pinocchio nose, or puts a plume on their head. This undermines the credibility of the posture, or even the imposture of these characters. In another painting, through an extensive jaw (maybe borrowed from the Alien monster) she depicts the voracity of the business world. Distorted frames, violently colored backgrounds, stretched dimensions, all this visually contributes to transforming these persons: they are more or less badly treated , or pointed at in their weaknesses, like miserable puppets trapped into a small pictorial castle. And finally, what if her ink works were in fact the most striking attacks (as a crossbow arrow hits its target) by reaching their aim through dazzling sketches?
Jacques Py, January 24, 2013.
Director of contempary art Yonne. France