Retrieval and flight / Franz Kaltenbeck
Organs (hearts) displaced, the left one upwards towards
the oesophagus, the left one separated from the body, or
rather the skeleton, of Figures Internes 1. Their faceless
heads. Scarred, sutured organs (hearts?) of Figures Internes
2. Patches and stains of colour, scratched, crossed out,
engraved with numbers and writing, drained bruise on the
flesh, signs, in this frozen fi lm, this receding screen, this
burial stone, this landscape formed of the ruins of identity
in Fragments. Mirror-writing on a spread out body in Amnésie
1 with surgical cotton wool in its lower half. Urban
geography, serial fi eld, but macabre anatomy too,
of membra disjecta , bruises and bleeding scorch-marks
of Amnésie 2. The gashed labyrinth-like grids of Exactions.
Badly bandaged skin, striped with cuts, of Amnisty. Plan
of devastation - «where sight is blurred with red» - with
its windows of embedded images of Voile rouge. Ghostly
photos, profusion of emergency, equipment, catheters,
probes, sticking plaster, city blocks and aggregate, like the
immobile projectiles in 11 Novembre 2001. Eddying grasses,
stems and moss on the map of karstic terrains in Souffl es.
Tufts of fl agella in a desert for an Arbre Respiratoire.
Copper wires innervating Compassion with these ectoplasmic
slabs of non recognisable images. Façade torn from
a wall revealing behind it a gallery of fragmented images,
an outcrop of greenery from among the stones
The works of Pascale Kaparis strip away the illusion
of the integrality of the body, follow its fragmentations
and the tissues and materials which envelop it - the land,
the city and the increasing rents in the stitching holding
The incorporated grids and cadastres, in Exactions,
are so gashed that it draws blood. Images of memries
often effaced, X-ray-like, surface in the middle of contusions,
ulcerations, announcing their presence as symptoms.
Carved words and phrases and scratched signs, evidence
of these injuries inflicted by persons unknown. These
bodies pass, continue on in urban territories, arranged,
blocks spread out, patches of colours, breaking, in a
process rendered more tense because the objects appear
to be immobilised. City landscapes indistinguishable
from these bodies whose borders too arecoming asunder.
In one of her most recent works, Pascale Kaparis
collects dried plants, an activity described by Empedocles,
commented on by Jean Bollack.
The bodies in the first canvases appear as if they were
drawn on the walls of a cave, they become double,
quadruple, they go through the mirror. Their organs beside
them have emerged from their bodies, their heads have
lost their faces.
In the pictures of Pascale Kaparis, the anguish of closure
does not exclude the impossibility that the parts should
not compose a whole. The surfaces, bodies, skin, the series
of patches, the labyrinths, grids, compartments, walls and
cadastres, suffer multiple injuries, wounds, they are scored
out, fragmented,gashed, striped. The organs are removed
from the bodies or are displaced. Words carved in mirror
writing subvert patches of colour, blood seeps from
beneath its makeshift cotton wool. The surfaces are never
smooth, they carry the desert, the forest, retrace the
blasts of explosions.
This pulsing in 11 Novembre 2001 passes from a compact
space where all seems to be in its place to an opening
out to an infi nite smallness, at the merging of cracks and
a formless reality. Voile Rouge seems to reconstruct the
scene and the traces of a bloody crime. In Amnisty lesions
and bandages appear in a falling movement. This wavering
between a delimited, gridded space, where all collides and
the transition to somewhere beyond all limits make the
canvases of Pascale Kaparis complex.
She has had to create this dynamic, vital structure, in
order to fi x upon it, to scrape, carve, incise into it, what
she had not yet understood since no one had told her:
catastrophes. Starting from pictorial languages like those
of Paul Klee, Henri Michaux, Lucio Fontana, Eva Hesse, her
work calls to mind the mocking parodies of surgery in the
photos and reports of Rudolf Schwartzkogler, the most radical
of the Wiener Aktionisten (Viennese Activists) whom
however she is not familiar with. She shares with Hesse the
protuberances on her latest canvases.But these elements
are not the result of infl uences, she has adopted them to
serve her own working methods.
What knowledge could be more oppressive than to have
witnessed an anonymous death ? «There were drowned
people on the beach». It is not a sentence that asserts
a thing perceived. As a child who grew up in Casablanca,
Pascale Kaparis only saw them disappear in the Atlantic
from far off. Since then, through her drawings and pictures
she tells how these bodies visit her. Pontormo, for his
part, visited bloated corpses in the morgue in order to
Information helps to efface an unbearable event. An
anonymous event is the direct opposite of a fantasy
which, after all, operates in a similar fashion. All that is
known about an anonymous event is that it took place,
but that it took place unmediated, without words, with
no interpretation, and sometimes some one, Pascale
Kaparis, as it happens, is the only witness.
No, the artist does not tell of truth, of goodness and
of beauty, that job is left to the philosopher. Of truth
all the artist can do is prove that it exists, of good, show
its ravages, and as for beauty, above all, indicate what
lies behind it.
«There were some people drowned», or «People were
disappearing into the ocean», these phrases assert no
causality. They neither fi t into the logic or the manner
of operating of a fantasy. The person who speaks them is
alone with that information. She can not make the facts
acknowledged. That is why she recalls them in her work.
And in this way, the facts that these phrases convey are
refl ected in the over-exposed, unrecognisable photos,
these bricked-up windows which open in her canvases.
And then there is the horror they tried to silence. The
Shoah is not unmentionable. But they want to know nothing
about it and many have refused the effort needed
to transmit it. Pascale Kapparis who suffered because it
was not transmitted to her, reacts against this false silence
by creating a pictorial language strong enough to show
how the horror of the camps affects her, and the links
which bind her to her history. The terrorist attacks, those
of the 11 th September and those against Israel, are too
serious for her merely to show compassion for the victims.
She also shows the presence of the dead in her life.
She shares with them a solidarity and Beckmann, and Paul
Celan. No peace making, no transcendance or transfi guration
in this presence ! Figures with their hearts displaced,
wrenched from their bodies, are siezed in their moment
of suffering, but the art of Pascale Kaparis gives them life.
If the canvases of Pascale Kaparis cause the spectator
dismay, it is because they hold his/her gaze, and want
to be read - not only because they are crossed by signs,
words, phrases, writings, crossings out, deletions - and
that often they turn out to have no exit, reproducing
something of that anguish against which they react. They
hold a « wordless discourse», recite mute stories. The inherent
geometry which positions fi gures, bodies, patches of
colour and scripts takes you down Borges-like journeys .
You can get as lost there as in a city. They are maps where
«that happens», where image and reality become imperceptible.
Your attention is pulled in all directions,
it is hard to know where to start to read, to look, and
yet the composition has nothing arbitrary or contingent
about it. And so the pictures, and the artist fi rst of all,
force you to go back to discover the immanence of their
underlying structures. For it is their immanence which
makes these canvases extend beyond themselves, appear
to continue outside their surfaces. Multiplicities, these
picture never aim for fullness nor do they display the void,
the lack, of castration. Would it not be useful here to
apply the term «pas-tout»coined by Lacan, to appreciate
the effect of absence, of void, in this painting ?
In the painting of P.K. any closure within a frame is
rendered impossible by the dialectics between a rigorous
composition, the placing of the four bodies in Figures
Internes, the positioning of the white sculptural blocks
in Amnesie, everywhere the lack of centres... - and the
fragmentation as well as the display of a range of details
whose spread rivals that of the real world, the suspension,
the hesitation between abstract and fi gurative.The
opening to the infi nite, achieved due to a fi rm procedure
and a clever use of scale from life size to vanishing mark
permit P.K. to play off the general against the specifi c. One
of the reasons, too, for those transitions from drawing to
painting, pierced with over-exposed photos, from marks
to signs, from signs to writing, but with added poetry. This
process of come and go serves no concept of Gesamtkunstwerk
but rather to pursue a creative fl ight on which the
artist leads her readers and spectators.
Franz Kaltenbeck - September 2003
L'Oubli des Mots / The Missing Words -
Exhibition and catalog - Odapark, Venray, The Netherlands