“L’œil du lézard” presents Agnès Brézéphin-Coulmin


For a more significant contribution to the promotion of Caribbean art internationally, the Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art-Caraïbe du Sud, better known as Aica Caraïbe du Sud [Aica Southern Caribbean], has opted for the creation of a series of short videos online in French, English, and Spanish.
This series, depending on the partners’ agreement, aims at introducing contemporary Caribbean visual artists from the entire archipelago. Initiated by Dominique Brebion (Martinique), the series focuses on artists from the Caribbean.

The video here and in the link below introduces the audience to Agnès Brézéphin-Coulmin from Martinique, with text by Dominique Brebion; narrator: Frédéric Guilbaud; credits by Gilles Elie-dit-Cosaque; and editing by Vianney Sotes.

Description (by Dominique Brebion): Once you step inside this chamber of curiosities, where a fascinating strangeness, the unexpected and the unusual reign supreme, you embark on an inner voyage as an unwitting explorer in the artist’s private world, unveiled with a strong sense of reserve and evasion.

Time undoubtedly plays the leading role there. The time of accumulation for the collector revealed behind the artist, and the time spent making the works: from folding the four-hundred origami models to the elaborate and inventive embroidery that transforms and sublimates the old photographs.

Each carefully preserved object is customised with the art of subversion that typifies Agnès Brézéphin’s style. Sometimes it features a few surreal accents that would make Lautréamont or André Breton proud.

Yet the love of prestigious, luxurious materials originally designed for embellishing, decorating and enhancing, but also charged with lived experience and emotion, is ever present, since this is the collection of her grandparents’ rare buttons, examples of a skill that no longer exists today.

However, once reclaimed and recycled by Agnès, the silver and bronze threads, pieces of tat, enamels and haute couture glass beads no longer have any decorative or ornamental function. Like embroidery and graphic design, they work like a language and construct a narrative that seeks to unveil the unsayable.

The artist sews and embroiders old photos, family portraits picked up here and there, sometimes even bought from antique dealers. Her emotions guide her gestures and finishing touches. It is her hands that decide. They are what tell the story. The embroidery, drawings and tat give the photos a three-dimensional look as well as a poetic aspect, and above all make veiled references to tell the story of things which cannot be said.

Beneath the apparent frivolity of the fashion accessories lies a deathly atmosphere, an undeniable gravity, an infinite melancholy. Stuffed animals, vertebrates’ skeletons, genuine human teeth, tiny porcelain skulls… This is the kingdom of the vanities. These animalia are dominated by insects, preserved specimens or sometimes drawings, and are always disturbing: centipede, spider, moth, ant. Sometimes, they insidiously creep along; they proliferate as if invading, infesting. Even the old photos remind us of our mortality and create this hushed, old-fashioned and nostalgic atmosphere, with black, white and grey as the dominant colours. This is the realm of “the dear silenced voices”. But why are the male faces all hidden, masked, cut up, de-structured and displaced, whereas the embroideries weave jewellery, headdresses or coats for  the women, be they girls taking First Communion or brides?

In the contemporary artistic landscape where the conceptual and the political often dominate, her lyrical register is what makes Agnès Brézéphin-Coulmin so original. She expresses her emotions and communicates them to the public through a combination of revisited visual practices: graphic design, embroidery, illuminations and subversion of objects.

See more information and video at https://aica-sc.net/2018/04/18/loeil-du-lezard-agnes-brezephin-coulmin-3/

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