Sat 1 Apr 2023 to Sat 6 May 2023
Tue-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 11am-7pm
Artist: Aks Misyuta
Art: Concept presents Aks Misyuta’s first exhibition in Paris.
As a self-taught artist, she develops a pictorial work that she claims to be spontaneous, intuitive, and cathartic. Aks Misyuta paints a lot and fast, confronting her memories as well as the echoes of present times. She uses a protocol that consists in applying a first layer of black paint from which massive and vividly lit characters appear. In the past two years, she has also developed a sculptural practice by making small bronze sculptures.
“As is the case for many self-taught artists, I work directly from my memory, my imagination, which has very much to do with the naive approach.”
Particularly influenced by the catalogues of folk art, ancient art, and modern art that she saw as a child, the imaginary beings that invade the canvas - often to the extent that they exceed it - give us access to a disturbing intimacy. The tight framing as well as the attention to details engage a silent dialogue between the artist, who usually paints very close to her canvas - the depicted characters and the public.
The impassive, almost anonymous faces, that sometimes even disappear in a shadow or outside the frame, create a contrast with the expressiveness of bodies characterized by lascivious attitudes that set up a scene of deliberate idleness. They are not portraits but rather an infinite range of variations of archetypal figures such as the “Timewaster”. Recurring motifs, such as a watch without dial, that we can see on numerous canvases to symbolize a moment suspended in time, and used as the emblem of “quiet rebels”, who are depicted as characters that dedicate themselves to seemingly pointless activities, hence becoming the symbols of resistance against both time and against the exigencies of patriarchal society.
A sense of vulnerability emanates from the elongated, languid, hesitant bodies, either fainting or supporting one another in an embrace. However, they seem sculpted in a vividly lit and solid material.
“In my work, contrasts that often reminds us of Fernand Léger’s work (but really they can be observed in many artists’ works) might originate from shadows cast on sculptures and monuments, I’ve always paid attention to how light bypasses objects, especially in museums.”
Gently dissident, Misyuta’s work offers a counterpoint to the socialist sculptural and architectural aesthetics. Her figures could be, to sum up, monuments caught in an instant of fragility.
Echoing the derision of monumentality achieved by her paintings, her bronze sculptures can be held in one hand. Their three-dimensional character allows the artist to provoke sensations in a more direct way.
“I love sculpture because of the options that it offers to both artist and viewer, the element of surprise. I assume that 3d objects summon something at once childish and prehistoric in all of us.”
By deforming human figures sometimes to the limit of abstraction, she produces surprising and almost elusive objects. More than representations, they are hyperboles, small bodies whose inner struggles are revealed through a limb that suddenly takes a disproportionate size: the head of someone whose mind never rests is so heavy that it falls down ; the one who hears a meteor coming is nothing more than a large ear - through their distortions, these characters seem to feel the precursory signs of disorders to come.
In addition to being an aspiration of freedom, the desire to stop time could be the sign of a difficulty to apprehend the future in all serenity. From that perspective, the chiaroscuro treatment acquires a different meaning. It’s not only a plastic tool that gives depth to the shapes and refers to sculptural influences, but it also carries an implicitly eschatological dimension. The pale and livid bodies wrapped in crimson fabrics, the dark, earthy, or acid colors are somehow reminiscent of the interwar period. Even though she does not claim a direct reference to any specific period, Aks Misyuta evokes the end of the world as a crossing-time idea able to condense the anxiety of every generation. Resisting any fatalistic tendencies, the artist invites us to show resilience.
—Vanina Lécole et Ida Simon-Raynaud, Paris, 2023
* Quotes are taken from an interview with Aks Misyuta conducted in March 2023 on the occasion of her exhibition at Art: Concept.