Point of view

Staging the absence / staging the presence

“The incarnations of my “Ghost” series come to fully confirm what it is impossible to give a real body to: the absence of the other. The frontal and graphic emergence of these forms on the white paper is like this search for a lost “alter”: impalpable and dazzling.
It is a fact that seems definitive, yes, the other is irremediably absent. But when the ritual settles around this garment that I design, it is the experience of life that continues, and which, through the serial process, each time projects a different intimacy, always connected to the force of otherness, and in this sense, to what brings us together.

Paradoxically the ghost makes, while it is out of touch with tangible reality, an act of presence at the moment when it is seen and recognized by the spectator, in its intimate alliance with the white, which is like this specter, a surface ambiguous, both visible and elusive. Where my "Ghost" series is guided by this desire to enter into resonance with absent loved ones, my "Etreinte" series is placed like a mirror of this failed attempt by definition, translating the need to find the world of the living. How do I take care of my loved ones, and express this attachment? It is the continuity of my reflection, a story of bond, love, absence, intimacy and tenderness, where I was able to invite people important to me, to “think” this bond.

More than the embrace itself, I observed my own experience through the drawing, and this distance engages in my opinion a process which is of the order of the ritual. In this ritual, I leave room for what is deeply human, vulnerability, delicacy, difficulty in connecting, the need to love, to be loved...
Clothing, on the other hand, is always chosen with care - the shirt of the mother, the lover, the friend, the leather jacket of a father - worn by those who are present. Clothing thus becomes a kind of talisman, a witness, a passage to the other, an armor facing it, the baggage of an experience, a particular story, and sometimes even the modest vector of a message. personnel drawn between the lines. I seek to open up a space that seems impenetrable, stripped of any element that could situate it, where the gaze comes to rest: it is precisely a non-place, a zone at the interstice of a world. The ambiguity of this non-place is that it allows gentleness and anxiety to coexist.

These figures of suspended intimacy, partially exposed, are “at the edge of the sky”. They are beyond any temporality, any context, relieved of their fear of mortality. But strangely, they deeply embody a form of fragility and uncertainty. They are the memory of what happened, and also reflect the anticipation of a moment in the making, erected at the threshold of our universe, between eternity and impermanence.

Their duality contains the strength of arms that open or close, the softness of their embrace, and the strange floating that brings them closer to an elsewhere and distances them from reality. It is because the representation carries within it this possible spectrum of the loved one, that it also reflects something purely related to the living. My characters contain within them this tension between absence and presence, the mystery of an embrace which seems palpable, stable, but whose manifestation remains in suspense.

In my artistic practice, I aspire to create a double bottom in the image. First there is the realism, the dazzling dimension inherent in his motif, which gives a first layer of apprehension. This naturally attracts us, we are also seduced, caught up in a subject that we recognize. And then, as one approaches, in a desire to enter more into the intimacy of these figures, a kind of wavering takes place: the apparent realism dissipates, withdraws from the sensibility of the texture which becomes uncertain. The fabric could almost be crumpled paper, the hands are carved in stone, the hair chiselled; each texture is brought to the same level, expressive and contrasting.

This expressiveness of the line participates for me in a feeling of unreality placing my "embraces" in an abstraction which, according to my subject, can be a space of reverie, an alternative reality, a "beyond", where the white is always master of the game. This permanent double movement in the drawing which appears as figurative and abstract, is at the center of my graphic approach: the image embraces us as much as it keeps us at a distance, it is placed in relation with the ambivalence of human things, the complexity of a feeling where opacity and transparency dialogue. As in existence, the link only opens and closes, before eyes that seek to understand. »

Paris, May 2022

At the edge of the sky

With Au bord du ciel, Manon Pellan has chosen a design that gives a prominent place to contrast. Coming from his imagination as much as from his most immediate daily life, his drawings float on the surface of white backgrounds – that is to say how crucial light is for the artist. In the evolution of her practice, the young woman has always been sensitive to contrasts and images – whether cinematographic or lived – in a light that is as aesthetic as it is conceptual. Why white, why light?

“I work with sunlight in my photographic search for otherness. Upstream, the white is already present at this stage of the process. When I build the design on the surface of the paper, the only possibility to make the pattern visible is white. It then intervenes as a breakthrough of symbolic light. Breakthrough yes; because the white reveals my drawing as much as the contrast. It unfolds in an outward movement and suggests what was embodied. In the same approach, the ambivalence of white is that it recalls the presence of the motif, as well as revealing its absences. Like the sun overexposing the object it warms in a tender moment when the absence of the other is already felt, white becomes in all its violence, the only way to reveal the essential by creating a void, to fill this vacant space and fully embody the absence. »

From his various series – “Ghost”, “Etreintes” or “Trash” – the artist draws his ideas from his personal life. His mother's shirts, his grandmother's dishes; so many subjects drawn from intimate memories with a strong emotional charge. Disembodied objects that evoke the different senses and function as “an experience of the bond that I create, not without a certain spirituality, a kind of cocoon” affirms Manon Pellan. These objects are truly attached to the lived more than to the living and go beyond the simple idea of ​​a deadly projection. White, emptiness, light and memories constitute moments of “tenderness, modesty, sensuality, fear or hope; according to variations”.

Paris, April 2022


Artist statement

Series Ghost

“In my series“ Ghost ”, I try to develop a reflection around the body and its absence, intimacy, and loss, through an essential issue in the history of art, the drape. , which carries in its fold an exceptional power of evocation in its sensitive and contemplative character, placing it still today well beyond a simple tool of pathos.

Always leaving an important place for the white of the paper, I question the absences of the chosen motif and try to reveal its poetry. The partial absence of the body in this series works intimately with the presence of white, a void that fills the void; the white indicates the absences of the drawing.

The choice of this motif is linked to my personal history, and I actually believe that our vision of fabric and more generally of clothing, is very ambiguous: it has a special place for each of us, between the trivial object that we take out carelessly, the fetish that we store carefully, or the rag that we throw away without guilt. The fabric speaks of our relationship to everyday life, to the intimate, and to the body. "

Manon Pellan

Paris, February, 2021

Series Trash

“For me there is a form of violence and emotion in the observation of the banality of the elements that make up our space. It makes sense for me to question, through still life and modern vanity, our contemporary relationship to objects, and our way of ritualizing them or not. This is a problem that has crossed our history for a long time.

Even if the choice to draw around this question is very intuitive, sensitive and personal, I admit being crossed by strong references from our history, from ancient Rhyparography, to the “trap paintings” of Daniel Spoerri. I am also aware that still life was for a long time a constraint imposed on women artists, who sought to free themselves from it. As a woman artist, it seems interesting to me, in a time when our relationship to images and consumption is very different, to reappropriate the subject, and make it a ritual through drawing.

Against our habit, which pushes us to hide what turns us off or indifferent to us, and to move very quickly from one image to another, I decide to stop and make a case for the waste, whether it is in precious dishes or in a plastic bag. When I take a closer look at these objects that do not deserve special attention, I choose to ritualize them, and place them at the center of attention.

When I fix myself on the inside of a trash can, or a plate at the end of a meal, something very moving happens to me, all the first emptiness that can emerge from their ordinary character, is counterbalanced by the 'special attention that I pay them, by their representation through the drawing.

Wanting to approach noticeably these textures which only provoke us a priori only repulsion, and to put a certain precision in them, is also to allow them to express a delicacy, a fragility which perhaps brings us closer to an awareness of the sustainability of our existence. "

Manon Pellan

Paris, February, 2021