The exhibition "Paradis artificiels" (artificial paradises) puts in dialogue, in a new way, the paintings of Mathilde Lestiboudois and the drawings and sculptures of Ellande Jaureguiberry, inviting us to plunge into phantasmagorical spaces, favorable to the deployment of conflicting feelings. We are invited to metaphorically cross uncertain zones, oscillating between the theater stage and the votive altar, between the built and its ornament. Of the same delicacy in the gesture that shaped them; of an identical will of precision while granting an importance to the qualities of the material; the works of these two artists activate a dance of the glance, sometimes caught by the effects of depth and the details, sometimes sliding on the smooth or powdery surfaces covering the support. They lodge us in a discomfort, a productive doubt by which the imaginary as well as the memory are awakened. Thereby, the familiar ricochets on the unknown, the real intertwines with the fiction.

Ellande Jaureguiberry, Les Fruits de la terre 2 & 10, 2021-2022.
Color pencil on paper, 17 × 30 cm. 
© Ellande Jaureguiberry. Photo: Romain Darnaud. Courtesy of the artist and Dilecta 

Mathilde Lestiboudois composes refined and minimal architectures of which one cannot say if they are being built or if they are fading away. A few arcades or sections of wall draw a frame for objects that are most often draped. In the center of the purified scenes, three shrouded armchairs with only one or two legs visible, a wooden chair, a fountain with a basin filled with transparent water, and curtains quivering in a light breeze, all appear alternately. These few elements from the domestic furniture, both hidden and revealed, suggest a presence as much as they designate an absence. If no human figure intervenes in these mute settings, these few artifacts, by their functional essence, undeniably preserve the trace of it. The folds of the fabrics, the movement which, sometimes, rushes in, the water, potential reservoir of memory and subject to the undulatory vibrations of its surface, reinforce the feeling that an action could at any moment break the illusory peacefulness of the places.

Works by Ellande Jaureguiberry assert a more baroque aesthetic. The series of drawings "Fruits of the Earth", through traced frames evoking both the window and the lock and sharpening our voyeurism, exposes fragments of bodies - nipples, navels or breastplates - adorned with shapeless jewels made of pieces of clay kneaded with fingertips, fruits or plants. Mixing geometric and organic motifs, they respond to the artist's sculptural practice. Made from bas-reliefs made of wood or featherboard, personal photographs and scraps of chamotte clay, the drawings leave the assembly process clearly visible, reproducing with precision the shadows that underline the volumes and the cuts. If the artificial character of these agglomerations of references is assumed, it could not be the only engine. Indeed, they result as much as they transfigure the domestic practice of the collection by which memories accumulate on the dresser, preserving traces of moments of life. Ceramics, presented in parallel, reveal ambivalent forms, familiar and abstract. Although acting as sculptures, they acquire a function by presenting fresh fruit. They offer themselves as strange vernacular objects - vases, display stands, even ex-votos whose wishes would remain silent. The artist's works can then be considered under the yoke of still life, silently freezing the still desirable image of what will soon be no more.

Mathilde Lestiboudois, Rideaux en mouvement et bassin, 2023. Oil on canvas, 200 × 160 cm. 
© Mathilde Lestiboudois. Courtesy of the artist and Dilecta 

In December 1966, Michel Foucault gave two radio lectures on France Culture called "Le corps utopique" and "Les hétérotopies", proposing an open reflection on our way of perceiving the world from places that are both "real and outside all places"1 ». The works exhibited here respond singularly to these two discourses denoting liminal, interstitial zones. Mathilde Lestiboudois' horizon lines and architectural fragments, like Ellande Jaureguiberry's ornamental frames, define thresholds. While these set the scene, an indeterminacy as to the precise locality of the scenes remains. The isolated objects painted by Mathilde Lestiboudois thus evolve in both interior and exterior spaces. The cold palette she uses, awakened here and there by roses and orange trees, bathes them in a timeless atmosphere, day and night. The soft tints favored by Ellande Jaureguiberry, contrasted with frank and artificial lights, call for the same uncertainty. The illusionism of the representations and their depth is also questioned. The shaded backgrounds of the oil paintings as well as the grain of the colored sections of the drawings refer the viewer to surface effects. The works of the two artists juxtapose so "in a real place several spaces which, normally, should be incompatible"2 ». They incite us to project ourselves through this "heterotopic" foliage in order to unfold multiple possible narratives. Fascinating, perhaps distressing, the figurative scenes reinvest the real through the imaginary. In the echo of the baudelairian prose, it would be then a question of envisaging that [perhaps] "the true reality is only in the dreams" 3 ».

Thomas Fort, art historian

1. Michel Foucault, Le Corps utopique, Les Hétérotopies [1966], Nouvelles Éditions Lignes, 2009, p. 25.

2. Ibid., p. 29. 

3. Charles Baudelaire, Les Paradis artificiels, opium et haschisch / par Charles Baudelaire, Paris, Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1860, n.p.

Useful information: 
 "Paradis artificiels"  
duo show with Ellande Jaureguiberry and Mathilde Lestiboudois
 from 2023, May, 11 to Juin, 10