Blanche ou l’oubli


Drawing, installation, photography, sculpture...

Blanche ou l’oubli

Past: September 11 → October 31, 2014

“Because Blanche, she doesn’t exist, not as a character of the novel, not as a black Madonna. I’m telling you: I don’t imagine her, I don’t create her. I feel for her in the dark side of myself.”


Alberta Pane Gallery presents Blanche or Oblivion, an exhibition curated by Léa Bismuth (essay available from September), starting September 11th at our new gallery space in 64 rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth.

Memory and oblivion, black and white, force and fragility, sleep and wakefulness meet in a show that unites photography, installations, films, drawings and sculptures from eight artists.

“It all started with a book I’ve read ten years ago, leafed through in an old house, sitting next to a large window that opened to the horizon. The book has left a mysterious impression, a background noise to stay with the reader for a long time.

Marie denis variation sous verre d aigrettes et pissenlits 2014 medium
Marie Denis, Variation sous-verre d’aigrettes et pissenlits, 2014 Série de sous-verre, doubles verres, encadrement toilé de l’artiste — 20 × 30 cm ; 30 × 40 cm ; 40 × 50 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Alberta Pane, Paris

This exhibition tries to assemble bits and fragments that testify of a battle against time and oblivion. Here and there, clues will be given. Traces of a passage. Frameworks for spaces and moments. Writing in motion before the freeze.

Blanche or Oblivion: The exhibition title quotes Louis Aragon’s eponymous 1967 novel. In this ambiguous text, narration is put into peril between autobiographical quest and impossible novel-like fiction. The narrator perpetually loses control over his tale, and turns into the toy of an imaginary woman.

Whether her name be Blanche or Black Madonna, she is only a protean prism by which Aragon tells of his own love story: “Blanche, to make Elsa forget Elsa”, he writes at the end of the book.

But Blanche doesn’t exist, and nothing remains of the great novel that tells it all as if trying to put together the pieces of scattered existence, nothing but a desperate sketch, a list, an excessive attempt to gather everything and the disturbing madness of the result.

Some nights we say are white (in French: “blanche”), i.e. sleepless. They are the most terrible and ghostly, but they also favour the concretisation of ideas, the creation of poems and artworks. And, each in his own way, the artists of this exhibition know how to express those moments that are nourished by hunger and exhaustion, when the shutters are half closed and lives go into hiding.”

Léa Bismuth

Galerie alberta pane marcela paniak elyseum serie 2013 original medium
Marcela Paniak, Elyseum serie, 2013 Photographie ancienne numérisée, fleurs séchées — 60 × 40 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Alberta Pane, Paris

The artists

Sandra Aubry & Sébastien Bourg “attract, charm, and seduce us before we get lost in a maze of detracted symbols and distorted reference systems, deconstructed and reconstructed. They play with our nerves, they never allow us a rest and subject us to ceaseless questioning and deception, to perpetually renewed frustration.” (from: Anna Milone: “En suspense”, in: The Modern Directory N°01, January 2014)

Charbel-joseph H. Boutros “understands darkness not just as a physical space but as a physical experience. Darkness eradicates our differences, it eradicates time, it eradicates presence. It is a vital natural experience; linking prehistory to future, our origins to our death.” (extract from the press release to the exhibition “Crisis Practice”, June 2013, Workshop Gallery, Beirut, LB)

Gayle Chong Kwan: “What matters to Gayle Chong Kwan, are great illusion machines to create parallel worlds that leave us speechless like children. With the firm will to believe and to be carried away by the artificial dream, we look into a magical world and forget the distance that separates us. She points to Louis Daguerre’s dioramas, to the fascinating immersive experiences that he offered to his public, and she revives the great tradition of the magic lantern, the astonishment at the autonomization of projected light that in its rays carried moving forms with the appearance of live itself.” (from: Léa Bismuth, “If the eye could touch the moon”, September 2013)

Marie Denis presents her new work series Variations of Dandelions Plumes under Glass, plants pressed between laboratory glass plates, longitudinal sections of stalk and plumes. She seeks to express their slenderness at the point of perfect delicacy, breathing new life into the plant.

Gayle chong kwan bronze x 2013 medium
Gayle Chong Kwan, Bronze X, 2013 Impression UV sur dibond doré, contrecollé sur aluminium — 70 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Alberta Pane, Paris

Marco Godinho: “By playing on phenomena of appearance and disappearance, Marco Godinho addresses the complementary frontiers between the visible and the invisible, the tangible and the random, departure and return, ultimately in order to question our relationship with life, the very ideas of presence and absence, memory and reminiscence, the passage of time and the infinite search for meaning in an ever more uncertain world.” (from a text accompanying the exhibition “Invisible More Visible More Invisible”, Casino du Luxembourg, 2013)

Marcela Paniak on the occasion of the series “Elysium” in 2013 said: “These works are made from photo cards ornamented with dried flowers. The Elysian Fields are a mythological place where the blessed souls of the dead reside. They are surrounded by invisible lyres playing music, by poplar trees and asphodels, flowers that represent death, sorrow, melancholy and eternity.” (Marcela Paniak, Les Rencontres d’Arles, 2013)

Hiraki Sawa: “Sawa’s films frequently recall Maya Deren’s post-surrealism in “Meshes of the Afternoon” or “At Land” (1944): Mystery and daily routine meet, ramblings of thought form the foundations of a kaleidoscopic game to tear down the frontiers between “reality and its double”. In a perpetual vertiginous fall, memory is at the same time a fossilized trace and immediate experience. And thus time becomes a hypothesis, nothing but a door that opens to oblivion.” (Léa Bismuth, “Introducing Hiraki Sawa”, artpress, 2014)

João Vilhena’s drawings lean to a certain monomania, to which his attention to detail and his ability could easily confine him. (…) This is indeed of concern to João Vilhena when he draws not only an image on a blank paper sheet, but adds the image of this very sheet. A drawing in a drawing, a window that opens to a second… to an imaginary world made of paper where one metaphor leads to another.” (Lydie Marchi, press release for the exhibition “Il n’y a pas de mots comme équivalent”, Saffir Galerie Nomade, Marseille, June 2010)

Curator: Léa Bismuth

Léa Bismuth is an art critic (member of AICA, she regularly publishes in artpress) and freelance curator (notably Bruissements/Nouvelles Vagues at Palais de Tokyo in 2013 and La Réalité presque évanouie at Ecole des Beaux-Arts TALM in 2014). She has contributed to exhibition catalogues, was a researcher at Centre Pompidou Metz, and a member of various institution committees and art school admission panels.

  • Blanche ou l’oubli — Commissariat : Léa Bismuth Opening Thursday, September 11, 2014 5 PM → 9 PM
Alberta Pane Gallery Gallery
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47 rue de Montmorency

75003 Paris

T. 01 43 06 58 72

Arts et Métiers

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

The artists

  • Marie Denis
  • João Vilhena
  • Marco Godinho
  • Gayle Chong Kwan
  • Sandra Aubry
  • Charbel Joseph H. Boutros
  • Sébastien Bourg
  • Marcela Paniak
  • Hiraki Sawa