Seven Years Seven Sins 2006-2012
Monopoly World. Isabelle Faria
For the last few years, artist Isabelle Faria (Saint-Maur des Fossés, France, 1973) has been working on a creative cycle dedicated to the seven capital sins. After luxury, vanity, wrath and envy have been committed, this catalogue presents the works that deal with sloth, a series of drawings and installations under the title Mono- poly World, in which the artist adopts an unsuspected perspective.
Sloth is presented in a unique context, a few animal societies dominated by a tendency for grouping. The groups are composed of three kinds of individuals: dogs, monkeys and birds of prey, all of these belonging to different races and species, in sce- nes of great solemnity, in which violence is a ritual of everyday behavior.
Isabelle Faria’s use of animal images in order to address the issue of sloth would allow us to evoke fables, those narratives with a moral intention in which, as we well know, each animal acts strictly according to its character: the hard-working ant, the cunning fox, and so on. Nevertheless, these watercolor drawings are part of an intert- wined narrative and not just any single story. The characters are aligned, as if posing in a celebrating attitude, proud of being who they are, of doing what they do, as if their deeds had already taken place. Everything culminates in these unsettling drawings. It is no accident that the dogs presented here belong to breeds modified in order to obtain violent and aggressive animals.
The history of art gives us a different model of group images, presided by the sense of pride in belonging to a certain class. The corporative portraits of the civic militias and professional groups of the Dutch Barroque – with Frans Hals and Rembrandt as the main creators – show us groups of individuals carrying out a profession or a mission, united by the same destiny and displaying great cohesion. They know that each one of them has his function within an established hierarchy that appoints a responsibility to each individual and does not allow anyone to feel helpless or useless. At the same time, individuals acknowledge each other and the chain of command prevails.
In today’s world individuals don’t identify themselves much with the companies in which they work. Large families seem to have disappeared and social bounds are abun- dant and at the same time fragile. The function of the group is therefore quite relevant when it comes to analyzing organization structures and the sharing of power. From highly codified institutions such as the Catholic Church or national armies, to more informal and ever-changing ones such as 18th century European royal courts or the present mafia organizations, illegally dealing in weapons, drugs or people, all of these have inspired Isabelle Faria’s cinematographic, striking and revealing project.
It was a double pleasure to discover Isabelle Faria's work and to meet the very sympathetic artist.
Even though I have only discovered her work recently, it is blatantly clear that it emerges from a passion for all artistic media, mostly tridimensional, namely committed and eloquent installations.
For In My Room, Isabelle Faria chose to exhibit a selection of works, this time in the shape of huge drawings, from her 2009 project entitled Six Months One Place: Sublime Envy. A portion of a project spread over several years on the seven deadly sins.
November in Paris will be under the sign of Envy.
I will therefore have the pleasure of welcoming a selection of the artist's large scale drawings.
Drawings seemingly alive because of their size, where the subject becomes a giant, drawn with such precision that light and matter come to life. The stroke is thick and distinct but the result is close to photography's brilliance and illustration's dexterity.
In these drawings I see the friendly connection that the artist may have had with her «subjects», a connection in which the «models» steal her show by taking possession of HER chair, the artist's chair, a simple office chair but the seat of all meditations.
The subjects invite themselves into her world and at the same time play the role of voyeurs by robbing parts of her «vision», by sitting on her throne. Are they envious or leviathans?
Above artistic desire, we can also feel the artist's desire to put forward «personalities» and human expression.
To me, Isabelle Faria is a complete artist with a passion for both art and the «being». One word comes to mind when seeing the path she followed for her work and her itinerant exhibitions, and that is «universal», not only because of her many journeys, and the cities she appropriated, but also because of the language of Art and her analysis of human behavior, two elements very present in her work and common to the entire world.
Olivia Lenard, Paris 2009.
Isabelle Faria’s addictions are reproachable because they are the cause of violent crimes and passions. Luxury (Where We Used to Live - Luxury, 2006), Vanity (What We Want is What We Get - Vanity, 2007), Wrath (Come and Go to Nowhere - Wrath, 2008) and Envy (Six Months One Place - Sublime Envy, 2009) are dense series of works resulting from an intense discipline that seeks to explain each named theme. These subject matters are conceptually interpreted and pictorially translated with more or less inter-relational display, although with clearly distinguishable project specificities. The black and white ostentation of Luxury’s landscapes and architectonic interiors led to the fierce colors of the car pile which, in Isabelle Faria’s view, expresses the idea of vanity. In both projects, essentially developed in oil paintings of large and medium size, the occasional installation has served both the process’s objectual synthesis as well as a solution for its exhibitive spatiality. Presented at Galeria 111 (Lisbon, 2006) and at Lisbon’s City Museum (2007) respectively, Luxury and Vanity introduced installation, thus suggesting a kind of spectacularity that in the meantime (or for the moment) has been abandoned. Luxury displayed the fragile and restrained installation of a castle of cards, while in Vanity one came upon the bold and apocalyptic use of neon light and a crashed tuned up car. The existentialist enterprise of Isabelle Faria’s capital sins has calmed down. It is now more inclined towards a mature investigation of its own thinking structure.
Wrath initiated a furious cycle of drawings, with a series of images depicting fires, police charges, crashed cars and crashed trains, planes stationed in airports, boats in troubled waters and snow storms. The study, observation and representation of catastrophes highlighted some of their immediate main characters – firemen –, as well as other less obvious ones – teachers –, given immortality in two different series of class portraits. The body’s former presence on the surface of the paper, materialized over and over in portraits and self-portraits, determines one of the most complex and stimulating derivations in the artist’s path. Moreover, it finds an improvement possibility in the attempt to visually translate the psychology of the social conflict, of authority and of the collective phenomenon. The individual and single-colored portraits of firemen entitled Twelve Portraits After Hockney in a Uniform Style (2008), drawn in an almost one-to-one scale, are a direct reference to David Hockney’s Twelve Portraits After Ingres in a Uniform Style (1999 – 2000), a series of pencil, pastel and gouache-colored portraits of each one of the London National Gallery guards. The series is itself a reference to Dominique Ingres’s portrait exhibition, which took place in that same museum, in 1999. After visiting it, Hockney took interest in what he called the “secret knowledge” of Renaissance paintings. Like Hockney, and by means of a compulsive atelier practice, Isabelle Faria also seeks to attain a totalizing mastery of the drawing’s language, seen as a principle and structuring vehicle of artistic knowledge. She therefore often displays some disinterest regarding a faithful and personal representation of the model.
On the last series of works by Isabelle Faria, Envy (Six Months One Place - Sublime Envy, 2009) proposes a double physical approach to the object. In the first place, the models are no longer anonymous agents of a certain professional group. They are individuals only recognizable as far as members of their own private and work circle. Architects, designers, artists and curators, they all feed the insatiable demand for the “other”, just as relatives, neighbors and clients of the same coffee shop would. Secondly, the place of that “other” is no longer distinguishable from the place of the artist herself. In a kind of presential miscegenation, visitors arrive by invitation at a normally and rigidly secluded atelier. They take hold of its primary element, the chair, even before they become aware of its fundamental importance. And they allow to be photographed. In surrendering to photographic image, and suspending the movement of their bodies, they are unconsciously returning back to space its original silence.
In 2002, dozens of sitters and pairs of sitters, also each other’s relatives, friends or lovers, went on a pilgrimage to Hockney’s London studio. They sat on office chairs and posed all day long in front of the artist’s camera lucida, just like others before them had done for Warhol’s screen tests. Without that same stoic demand made to the model and exploring a kind of negotiated casualty, Isabelle Faria’s essential material is extracted not from saturation or discomfort, but from the relatively comfortable transience of the visitor in question: the image of a body – the organic, unstable and variable element – systematically readapted to the same chair – the inorganic, stable and recognizable element –, and represented over the empty abstraction of the studio’s scenic setting.
The arbitrary positions of those men, one after the other in majestic verticality, suggest genuine relaxation. On the other hand, the stiff and Cartesian women are conscious of the female body’s projected social image. The men are sitting completely at ease, their legs open or stretched. The representation of their almost horizontal bodies is dynamic and deep, taking advantage of the low viewpoint and the focus on the waist line. Despite some less classical exceptions, the women are sitting in a frontal position, their necks straight, the legs prominently crossed and the hands correctly placed on the lap or the arms of the chair. Everyone is expressing boredom, restrain, empathy, shyness, extroversion, challenge, melancholy, satisfaction, seduction, impenetrability or availability. The body’s capacity to adapt to the chair’s ergonomics is a result of the power invested in a certain attitude, and the presence of the chair diminishes and disappears in opposite proportion.
Isabelle Faria’s work is accurate regarding light and perspective, elements that are worked against the paper in closely knit nets, with infinite lines of color. She is apt in manipulating the unevenness of treatment in terms of the texture detail of clothes and shoes, a kind of variable scale between hyper-realist accuracy and linear minimalism. And her work is intense in the expressivity given to faces by means of the aggressive drawing of face hair, beard, wrinkles and hair.
The atelier’s routine reveals itself in the need to feed the compulsive desire of creating, the addiction of scratching millions of colored pencil lines, the paranoia of filling the walls with sitting observers and carrying on drawing for them, in a massive and performative fashion. Such determination leaves us rotten jealous.
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