FRENCH EROTIC FEMINISM SPICED WITH SURREALISM AND THE GROTESQUE. Yes Sireeee
At Spritmuseum (The Museum of Spirits) they continue to host delectable little exhibitions. A few weeks ago the Absolut Art Collection (a fab collection comprising around 800 works by international and Swedish artists. The main object of every piece is the Absolut vodka bottle) acquired a ”new” painting by French artist Béatrice Cussol.
Béatrice Cussols work is very light and seemingly feminine, but with a dark twist. Thanks to her special talent to combine the sweet with the not-so-sweet (here I am at a loss for words…) she has earned her own place at Spritmuseum. The exhibition Rude Girls runs until 14 February next year.
At first glance the watercolors are light and fluffy, picturing young girls with pigtails, colourful handbags, ruffled dresses and fluffy clouds with eyes and mouths. But then! Look again, and you will be disgusted with the surreal images as the blood, gore and broken limbs seem to jump out of the pictures.
Instead of being cute, sweet and good, they revel in sex and violence. Utterly self-involved, they take no responsibility for anybody’s needs but their own. Men are conspicuously absent. Cussol humorously exaggerates her figures’ girlishness to the point of absurdity. Intimate anatomical details and bodily fluids flow in neatly patterned formations. The results are amusing and ironic.
The exhibition consists of a number of disturbing pictures. Some I liked a lot and some I liked less. Why? Well, whenever I experience a new artist my first thought is: ”Could I hang this on my wall?” With Cussol I am not sure. Most of the paintings shook me up. They seem so frail but the pictures are not quite…..harmonious. Like Barbie on acid.
Anyhow, Swedish artist Jens Fänge designed the room where Cussol’s work is displayed. Like Cussol’s art itself, the white and blood-red walls spark associations to love, but also to more or less unpleasant bodily fluids. Working together, the two artists created an environment far from the usual white museum cube; according to Fänge it is “a cross between the Cabinet of Dr Caligari and the corridor in Repulsion”.
Béatrice Cussol is a very sharp, but sweet, lady. I had a nice chat with her. As usual with artists, she was kind of philosophical in the way she described her work. We´re talking true Girl Power here 😀
Many of her works resemble renaissance grotesques in their composition. The women are positioned like decorative arrangements. Always with humour, Cussol sparks associations both to the traditions of the grotesque in painting and the way the female body has historically been reduced to a decorative element in art.
Her work is very childlike and seemingly innocent….SEEMINGLY…..
Finnbar from Ireland is one of the curators at Spritmuseum. He had great fun displaying some of the Absolut artwork that at the moment happened to be in the form of jewelry.
The exhibitions has shrunk considerably since I first visited the museum (on the Grand Opening in May 2012 no less), but it’s permanent and once in a while they change the art in the little Absolut cranny.