77 Claire TABOURET - Les Débutantes

On view until February 7, 2015, Tuesday to Saturday, 2 pm - 7 pm

For her first exhibition at the gallery BUGADA & CARGNEL, entitled Les Débutantes, Claire TABOURET (born in 1981 in Pertuis, lives and works in Paris), presents an ensemble of nine large-format paintings, loosely inspired by the Debutant Ball, an annual event held in Paris, where the young heirs to the French aristocracy and the international jet set are presented to high-society.

The official group photographs of the Debutant Ball serve as a model for each of these works, however, Claire TABOURET liberates herself considerably from these sources: her painting is not based on photography, but instead to compensate what she perceives as a lack, an absence in photography. In each painting, a group of female characters, of varying and often indeterminate ages - from children, to adolescents, to young women - pose in stylized ball gowns. This eveningwear is generally a unified color in each painting, and intermingles to the point where we do not know where one dress ends and the other begins. This entanglement embodies the social ties that unite these young women, of which we couldn't say they are subjected to or take advantage of. We don't know if they will one day break free of these bonds, in short, if they are prisoners or mistresses of their own destiny.

Indeed, if the Debutant Ball is the point of departure of this ensemble, it is above all a pretext for Claire Tabouret to continue to explore themes that span her recent series; for example, the place of the individual within a group and the capacity to extricate oneself, or destiny and predetermination. Here, questions of social rites and entry into adulthood are equally brought into play. Although these young women seem to resemble one another, in their features and their attire, they are all singular, each attempting to resist and free herself from the group.

Through these group portraits, the artist imagines the bonds that tie the girls in the original photos, making them visible through their hairstyles or the fabric of their dresses. Their clothing seems to be simply placed upon them, coming into conflict with their own individuality, betrayed by their expressions. Here, the dresses and drapery are inspired by the work of Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault, a figure of neuropsychiatry and a teacher of Lacan, who was consumed by a passion for the motif of drapery so obsessional that it eventually cost him his career.

In this new series, if the inspiration and intensity have stayed the same, the artist's gesture has magnified, and tends sometimes towards abstraction. Particularly, her palette expanded greatly: the background of each work is painted in an acrylic fluorescent color, which is then darkened by the superimposition of several layers of darker colors. This first coat gives light to the painting, as if it was illuminated from its interior. Visible on the edge of the canvas, its initial color forms a halo that spills out onto the wall. One has the feeling of being bathed in a colorful and mental light, electric yet almost dulled, indefinable.

The viewer thus finds himself immersed in dozens of gazes turned onto him, confronted with a kind of visual saturation, a vertigo. Tabouret brings into play, more or less consciously, her primitive connection to painting, as a visit to the Musée de l'Orangerie and a pictorial immersion in Claude Monet's Water-Lilies was the precocious moment of her decision to become a painter at four years old. In these new paintings, we find again the themes of the liquid and the moving, present in her entire oeuvre. Surrounded by these monumental works, the gaze slips in the folds of fabric, passes from a dress to a hairdo, to a wall hanging, from one painting to another, where each one will reveal itself differently: here, the theme of masks, there of caryatids, and still there flayed figures, emerged from an anatomy chart.