A staggering bang, shaking you to the core followed by eerie silence. Within less then seconds a forceful mass is set in motion, incredible speed and impetuous force created, burying everything under a layer of white, pristine snow. A layer that erased and destroyed, yet also created a new spectacle of outstanding beauty and cruelty.
What underlies Sophie Bouvier Ausländer’s new series of paintings with the resounding title Avalanche? It denotes a weather phenomenon, as much as a more general idea of spilling or covering up and concealing. The series of works can be understood within these parameters. In addition, Geography, and more specifically Cartography has been a reoccurring component in the themes addressed by the artist in her works, albeit addressing them in different forms and shapes. The topics of territory, border and representation of the world, in conjunction with her last name Ausländer (Foreigner), have inspired numerous artworks in the 2000's entitled Ausland and correlate directly to Cartography.
Before anything else, to paint is to cover up a surface with material. Therefore, the word “avalanche” and it’s implied notion of covering up relates to the creative movements of the painter.
In the Avalanche series roadmaps are the surfaces, unfolded in a way to constitute a supporting ground, shaping a visible grid with a slight relief, whilst indicating its utilitarian nature. These maps are old and new, different in scale, and sometimes patched together. The precise coordinates are rendered insignificant, although various areas, land, sea, international cities, are covered. Indeed, this work is neither anecdotic nor does it contain personal stories; rather, it questions the map as our vehicle of understanding, as a true representation of the world. The “avalanche”, the process of covering the maps in colour, erases this understanding. The detachment of the maps from its intended function and from the reality of the world brings it closer to painting, even if its original nature is to think as a space in relief.
Yet, as soon as Sophie Bouvier Ausländer engages on this path, she immediately reverses the course. As if caught in terrain where all familiar marks have been modified or erased by an “avalanche”, she sets forth to dig out the signs from under the cover. Bouvier Ausländer moves through repeated gestures of removing paint in tight, straight and systematic lines or by scribbling and scratching the surface. In this way she retakes control of the lost ground, searching through the surface and furrowing the crust. The Swiss artist reveals the map's fragments in an attempt to reconstruct an extinguished world. Yet she also brings to light a new vision, maybe a bruised one but modified and freshly charged.
In addition to the works on paper an installation of sculptures will complement the exhibition at the gallery. Plastein refers as much to plasticine, the material used for their making, as to the plasticity of these ductile volumes, carrying the imprint of the artist's hands as she kneaded them. These boulders gathered in groups or scattered over the ground also represent a conciliation effort, between drawing on a flat space, and sculpting in the physical one.
Based on a text by Marie-Fabienne Aymon