Hionas Gallery is pleased to present the first New York solo exhibition from French artist Clara Désiré: While Dreaming, Sounds My Loud and Wild Cry, which will run from October 4-27, 2012. Surely to be a feast for the eyes, with this series of new mixed-media paintings, drawings and artist notebooks—made using acrylic, oil, soft lead pencil, felt tip pen, and Indian ink, among other media—Désiré explores themes of feral animality, feminism, heartbreak, and death, all while channeling the primitivist visual style of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Several years back, while abroad in Tokyo, Désiré was approached on the street by a man who was donning Mickey Mouse ears and a t-shirt that read, Lucha libre (“free fight”). This stranger then scribbled the word “tar” on a cigarette and handed it to her. Almost immediately the work of Basquiat flashed through the artist’s mind. This random encounter, as simple as it was bizarre, is what drew Désiré to painting, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Each of Désiré’s works acts like some nightmarish yet fantastic storyboard, wherein the viewer may experience terror and captivation upon a single glimpse. To be fearful at all is essentially to fear ourselves, of what we—all being just instinctual animals—are capable of thinking, saying and doing. And yet, Désiré is not without a sense of empathy and tenderness. “Cauz we are soldiers in the frenzy to love”, “Never let you go”, and “Keep calm and carry on” are just some examples of the artist’s use of text in her work, suggesting that amidst the visual chaos and violence the artist is simply searching for some stability.
Faces play a pivotal role in Désiré’s work, yet her subjects’ eyes, with a few exceptions, are empty; voids that recede into a human skull, an animal mask, a cartoon character, or a robot head. Perhaps this is to remind us of our humanity or lack thereof, or inversely, the inescapability of our animalistic nature.
Her canvases, which often employ visceral brushwork coupled with a romantic etherealness, tell the story of our truest and most base desires unleashed, if only in our subconscious. In the collage painting Tomboy (2012), the artist creates a color field of heated tones, surrounded by utter darkness and scribbled text. The journey provided within is in many respects a trip back to that street in Tokyo, when the abstract character with Mickey ears and cigarette in hand entered the artist’s world and consequently changed it forever.
Clara Désiré (b. 1978) has been exhibiting internationally since 2006. Shortly after earning her BFA in France, she settled in Tokyo, from 2001 to ’03, and in the ensuing years she has shown her work in venues and fairs as varied as GUY SAVOY, Paris; Galerie SHO, Tokyo; Art Osaka at Dojima Hotel, Osaka; 101 Art Fair, Tokyo; KIAF, Seoul; and Art-Platform, Los Angeles, among others. She is also a former illustrator for ELLE France and ELLE India magazines. This is Désiré’s first exhibition at Hionas Gallery. She lives and works in France.