Gallery Openings—15 Sep 2023, 6 to 9 PM
Cécile Lempert’s works produce a cinematic world of ambiguities, shifting between the tender and loving to the violent, paranoid and eerie. Selecting imagery from a personal archive of film stills, family snapshots and borrowed details of European masters, Lempert’s first solo presentation with Efremidis draws together themes of intimate proximity and impassive distance. Cropped details of hands and fingers express moments of intimate or invasive touch, while close-ups of faces appear to mask a whirring interior world of private thought.
“In Lempert’s works, the memorial function of portraiture is inverted. Rather than reveal itself as an effort to capture and preserve a presence, Lempert’s disembodied, fluid way of painting stages the artist’s confrontation with the impossibility of truly capturing a personal identity, presenting us instead with the fragility of a moment.”
Melissa Blau, Exhibition text for Bridge for the Blind
A compelling and distinctive feature of Lempert’s paintings is her incorporation of a split-screen format. By placing two images side by side with only a subtle shift between them, the artist aims to depict a temporal “gap”; a fragile border between two states. With this compositional doubling, an uneasy fracture is introduced to the stillness and veracity of the painted image, staging the artist’s confrontation with the impossibility of truly capturing a fleeting presence.
The exhibition’s title is taken from a letter by philosopher Simone Weil, in which she laments the extraordinary vulnerability of human life: “Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling”. In Lempert’s paintings, this trembling fragility is figured through loose impressionistic strokes which alternate between chalky opacity and translucent washes, such that the corporeal warmth and presence of her subjects seem ready to dissolve at any moment.
Gallery Openings—15 Sep 2023, 6 to 9 PM
The beauty of language is its ability to possess two opposing tendencies. One is that language is endlessly mutable: openly available to manipulation and interpretation. But on the other hand, language is sticky: it brings along a host of clinging associations; memories which attach and won’t let go.
Take a simple word like ‘TESTER’, for example. Printed tiny inside a sticky oval and pasted on the lid of a plastic lipstick tube, it’s a humble and familiar invitation to temporary use – a non-committal experiment in the make-up aisle of your local DM. But to find this TESTER enlarged and emblazoned in slick blue acrylic, encased in the machine-cut precision of a wooden frame – familiarity becomes uneasy. Who or what is testing? Who or what is being tested? The door to narrative potential swings wide.
Of course, when I say ‘language’, I mean visual language too. With a background in graphic design, artist/designer Na Kim is well attuned to the slippery, sticky, dual possibilities of visual communication. For her debut exhibition with Efremidis, she borrows the recognisable signs, symbols and formats of mass-produced stickers and elevates them into bright acrylic, marbled gypsum and neat embroidery. Through these material translations, Kim invites unexpected tones and fictional narratives to emerge. The red sans-serif of a simple instruction takes on an unexpected tone; a shade of buttercup brings a flood of nostalgia. In these works, language is both doing and undoing, attaching and detaching. Meanings stick and become unstuck.
“Na Kim’s statement on found fiction remains a core concept throughout her work. Her practice could be understood as uncovering and coordinating what is ‘found’ through the process of revisiting her own archives. Records of personal memories and experience are sampled and re-edited to create new context and unfamiliar scenarios.”
Sungwon Kim, Deputy director and chief curator, Leeum Museum of Art; exhibition text for Bottomless Bag.