On an ethereal ground of white light Christophe Avella-Bagur shows us archetypal representations of male and female bodies that answer our expectations of mass-produced perfection. Avella-Bagur disrupts this ideal with a second layer of portraits painted in visceral flesh-tones that never quite register with the face’s outline. The two portraits are collapsed together to create disturbingly distorted juxtapositions painted in the grotesque manner of El Greco or Goya.
Avella-Bagur first began the Floating Souls series in 2005, working in a medium-sized format. These paintings contained archetypal figures with their eyes closed, in which a “floating soul” was depicted attempting to register with its host. Now the idealized bodies have their eyes open, creating tension and visual complexity between the two faces.
Christophe Avella-Bagur gives us an uncompromisingly contemporary kind of painting, which while remaining firmly figurative, presents a fresh look at the complex nature of human identity as depicted by the virtual world:
“I’ll be quite straight with you – I don’t do science fiction, I don’t paint robots. When I paint I have in mind a long line of great artists who went before me, artists who affect my daily life, like old friends with whom I have a spiritual, even a mystical relationship. I paint people, because our human condition is the only subject that really matters. I don’t paint fantasies that only I can pretend to understand – no. My works illustrate today’s conflict between the standardized view of we humans, of the way we’re expected to think and live our lifestyles, and a human being who is still able to make his own choices, who is unique, who despite his flaws and weaknesses can still assert his individuality. My work combines two worlds, a world in which humans are soulless mass-produced creatures, all the same and therefore worthless and without purpose, and an another world, in which individuals, in spite of their weaknesses and clumsy efforts, are still able to make up their own minds and shape their own destinies. That’s why my works show two sides of a struggle, because it’s a desperate and bitter struggle, and neither side has won yet. “