March 14 - May 12, 2012
L´Etre au Monde
galerie jerome de noirmont

Sans titre, 2011. Silk paper and pigment on canvas. 80 x 80 x 11 cm - 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 4 5/16 in. (c)Claudine Drai. Courtesy Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont.

exhibition release



    Since Goutte d’Air (Drop of Air) in October 2002 at the Town Hall of Paris’s 18th arrondissment during the first Nuit Blanche, and Instant poète (Poet Moment) at the Centre Pompidou during FI´ART in February 2009, the work of Claudine Drai fascinates with its mysterious magic and visible intangibility.  Her installations are ephemeral constructions, designed and experienced as a "mental body" which we pass through,  an invitation to a journey inside ourselves, inside our feelings.   Like enigmatic figures with outstretched arms,  her tissue paper sculptures stir up feelings of fantasy,  taking us along in their wanderings to reveal the invisible worlds through which they pass;  those of feeling,  of immaterial space,  of timelessness.

Creation is for me an attempt to live one´s own presence in the world.  I look for material that resembles the emotions of being,  of the soul,  to try crossing them without losing the essence.

For her second solo exhibition at the gallery from March 14 to May 12, 2012,  Claudine Drai goes beyond the ephemeral feeling experienced in the history of these paper beings which is similar to the reality experienced by beings of the flesh. Here she delves into a greater, more important history, where the sense of her own history disappears into another, more durable history;  that of humanity.

From these little paper beings, these secretive, tissue paper silhouettes standing 15/17 cm high are thus born five bronze figures, 1.15 m high.  The artisans of Fonderie Susse worked on all stages of production in close collaboration with the artist, processing, for the 1st time, bronze paper.  Thanks to their technical skills, these very white patina sculptures have surprisingly "retained" the history of paper to resemble pieces of the cosmos forever fixed in another breath of time, in a period of both infinite and indefinite, like silhouettes designed to overcome the idea of our temporality. Here the facial lines are extended by the lines of a "timeless draped body " which seem to reach space without ever landing on our reality.

Paper, bronze are like the "skin of souls", of beings. With the paper,  all of the artist’s movements make and are the work,  even the inner gestures that nest in the depths of emotion. The bronze figures are not the duplicate of the paper figures, even if they do dramatically translate their appearance.  They have their own soul,  that calls another reality.  That of another form of being in the world that escapes the conscious control of the artist to convey its emotion.  For the first time, Claudine Drai has chosen to name these works. Their titles evoke this emotion: the rupture, the silence, the fall ...

Here, the bronze finds its meaning : a material that exists in the history of humanity from its origin,  it inevitably returns to eternity.  It introduces a sense of mystery,  of the sacred,  going beyond the artist´s own life to refer more broadly to humanity,  to the universal,  to the eternal.

    The bronze creations have liberated the paper creations and the paper creations have liberated the bronze creations. For the artist, in the same way that movements free other movements, perception frees itself from the image to see it in a new way...  Working with bronze since 2010, from the initial conception in the privacy of the studio to its final completion in the foundry, has changed the artist’s perception of her paper creations.  It has enriched it with new considerations on the tangible or invisible reality of the work and its material, on the perception of its space, both inside and around it.

It´s strange how the bronze being seems to be feeling the paper being. Or maybe is it the other way around. The eyes seem to know but it is always about something else.  The worlds seem absorbed without losing their integrity, their power. An unsettling alchemy of these materials that have physically merged to bring the being into the world.

With Claudine Drai, this brutal and powerful material that is bronze paradoxically brings forth a sense of fragility, lightness or even immateriality. This same paradox arises from the twenty or so murals in tissue exposed in the gallery’s other rooms that the artist created by the "placing" of colors, forms and lines on a space,  all the while evading these lines and space to create more breathing space.

Whether they are big (195 x 115 cm) or small (80 x 80 cm), totally white or partially colored with blue, composed only of different sections of tissue that act as interior space walls or inhabited by "paper beings" visible and hidden, all of the works arose from these improbable emotions of the material, at the same time becoming and offering us these "moments of perception”.

    The introduction of the color blue  in some of these new works contributes to the feeling of a perception that invents and builds visible and invisible spaces ,  that "crosses" its own consciousness thanks to the real or suggested transparency of the tissue paper sections. The color blue appeared for the first time in the artist’s triptych installed at Roissy CDG airport in 2008 .  For Claudine Drai it is  a color of space,  a color of the spiritual,  a sense of the unattainable, the unspeakable ...

The blue intervenes here as a color as abstract as white. Blue and white are able to come together in the same light, the same opacity or transparency until it merges into the same essence.  White and blue are like the same color inside the work even if the surfaces,  lines, shapes and light identify them.  The blue’s transparency is able to join the white in the same space. The colors lose themselves in the same depth, in the same silence remaining intact. Thus, the work seems like one color nuanced only by what a construction can bring into view,  silhouettes and the emergence of worlds .

    More than ever, the spectacular strength of Claudine Drai’s works stems from their apparent fragility, their invisible soul, this constant feeling of  "no presence" ...  Each work is perceived as a “mise en abyme”,  which leads the viewer into an "irrationality" of sense in which a certainty of  life arises from an uncertainty of reality,  imagination, memory.

Just like Giacometti and Ryman, Giotto and Fra Angelico,  artists she feels close to,  Claudine Drai integrates a moral purification and spiritual quest into her creation that goes beyond our simple humanity to open ourselves up to other worlds, invisible and impalpable,  beyond our tangible reality.