Céline Nieszawer — Lost Control
Past: April 27 → June 22, 2013
In 1972, American writer Philip Roth conjured up — in tribute to Kafka and Gogol’s favorite game — the adventures of a comparative literature professor who undergoes a physical transformation that is as unexpected as it is radical: overnight, David Kepesh is transformed into … an enormous breast! As an elastic globe of flesh with its vivid pink nipple, David-the-breast lives in a hammock suspended by two velvet straps, cared for by a nurse, massaged by his girlfriend until ecstasy, and supervised by his psychiatrist. Because, of course, our dear professor is plagued by doubt: is he dreaming, or has he gone mad, the plaything of a hallucinatory delusion? Or, has he really become this absurd breast that thinks and suffers?
Philip Roth introduces his tale The Breast with a very Voltaire-like warning:
“This began strangely. But could it have been otherwise, however it began? It has been said, of course, that everything under the sun begins and ends “strangely”: a perfect rose is “strange”, but an imperfect one too. And so is the rose that has an ordinary beauty and grows in your neighbor’s yard. I do know that from a certain perspective, everything appears terrifying and mysterious.”
Strange and wonderful, drawing remains the most fictional writing we could ever ‘read’ in art. Is there anything more mischievous than this wandering line, transforming itself and mating with the white paper, thus suddenly fixing multiples signs. Face or pear, foot or horse, arm or river, drawing leads us to a land of mysterious links and magic. In this realm, the graphic works, collages and drawings of Céline Nieszawer are a treasure. In Lost Control she leads us through fairytales, fantasies and supernatural stories. Brought to life on her fictional pages are troops of little fingers on a stroll, swarms of trophy breast, couples of ultra-sheathed legs, faces occulted by masks, and numbers and screens on a merry spree. Here, everything levitates, dismantles and recomposes itself. In Philip Roth’s novel, the breast becomes self-sufficient; similarly, in Lost Control, the finger breaks off from the hand; the foot heads off without the leg. And everything metamorphoses: the globe is a gourmet treat; fleeing fingers becoming lobster claws, or sticks and utensils; legs end as sharp tips of schoolboys’ pens. And each transformist limb would go about its life in illustrative space, where it not for a graphic spinning-wheel machinery of interlacing, threads, braids, lines and knots that anchors the dispersed fragments.
On paper, rather than a merry Pied Piper, Céline Nieszawer orchestrates her own fetish theater and firmly grips the lion-tamer’s whip: her drawing is like a secretion, where the pen tip never leaves the paper, the discarded forms bound by the sap of writing and drawing. Strange and mysterious. It resembles the dotted lines of the best meat cuts explained on the butcher’s poster; it also resembles a child’s join-the-dots puzzle, revealing a flower or a house. Or, even more pleasurable, the delicate, slightly sadistic, pattern of a seamstress assembling the silk knots, threads, basting and tacking to corset a loved body. Lost Control, says Céline Nieszawer, is made up of fragments, memories, things that happen, it deploys itself on the paper. Chance and verve produce corseted thoughts compared to the pleasurable veil of tender humor, lecherous distraction and cartoonery. Hand-stitched fantasy and glamorous burlesque scraps, the graphic oddities hide many masks and betray dismembered bodies that are reunited and stitched, like altered figures, threadbare with faded scars and stitches, or perhaps hidden ills: there is perhaps the enigma to be resolved.
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