The defied edifice

How do you make one see that between the geometric complexity of a city and the apparent primitive chaos of an overflow of colors stands not only the fragile line of a crisis, a conflict, an apocalypse, but also the surprisingly harmonious meeting place of opposites? How do you make one feel the areas where the pattern trembles—where the line becomes a smudge and the purest black bursts with color—not necessarily opposing the substance of the pattern itself, but rather marking its origin, its meaning, and purpose? These are the types of questions that VAL tackles with her work. These are also the types of forces—cosmic, cyclical forces, always with dual polarity—on which her visual language invites us to meditate.

The defied edifice

“In art, and in painting as in music, it is not a matter of reproducing or inventing forms, but of capturing forces. For this reason, no art is figurative.”
Gilles Deleuze

No matter the uniqueness of each of VAL's canvasses, it is a structural constant (more than an aluminum support—a support that gives these works their incomparable brilliance) that is important, as a start, to note. There is, in effect, always, on one side, the constructed spaces: the space of the city, geometry, abstraction, lines, blocks of color; and on the other side, the free spaces, primitive, where the symbols are forged: signs, letters, figures. In other words, there is always, on one side, the secular world of the edifice, of rationality, progress, mastery, science, and on the other the sacred world of the effigy, of archaic or unconscious symbolism, of the sacrifice, of a nature that is sublime and omnipotent. Yet, between these two writings, these two languages, is not the empty space of an abstract distinction, but the concrete space of a play with color and form. Unio sympathica, say Theosophists. That’s to say, the paradoxical meeting of elements that usually oppose, reject, or disturb each other.

Yet, how does VAL set the stage for such a meeting? With what tricks, grace, and magic does she manage to make what usually opposes each other, first spiritually (sacred and secular), and then visually (abstraction and figuration), play together? To answer such a question, we must begin by asking: what comes first in these paintings? Could it be the constructed space of the city, or the furtive space of the figures?

Urbanité bleue - VALRésonance - VAL

It is evident that Girone begins with the city space, for it is here that the foundation, structure, and décor are established; here that always gives VAL work their space, lines, depth; and here, again, that suggests to the figures the place and shape that they must take in order to harmoniously fit themselves within the totality that precedes them. Finally, it is here that, through its black lines and gray blocks, gives the primary colors that make up the figures (the signature colors of wildness) their true transgressive character.

One might ask, then, which type of relationship exists between the figures and the space in which they insert themselves? Have these figures come to destroy the established space that supports them, or, on the contrary, does their presence confirm the soundness and the lasting permanence? Again, the answer, though complex, is no less clear or intelligible. In pieces such as Les 5 visiteurs (The 5 visitors), for example, it is clear that the equilibrium created by the volcanic eruption of these five visitors, and the architecture (at once simple and solid) that supports them, is not an equilibrium that seeks to preserve the unity of these two worlds but rather a balance that suggests that the future of our civilization is no longer to be sought in a battle against the archaic impulses on which our societies are founded, but on the contrary, on a larger recognition and integration of these forces. For it is these archaic forces, these figures, these impulses, no matter what we are saying or trying to do with them, are nonetheless, in their violence and fecundity (which makes us think, here, of the sun), the same source of our universe—and, therefore, of any kind of civilization.

Translation: Cassandra Katsiaficas

Frédéric-Charles Baitinger