Vidya Gastaldon “Hello From The Other Side” at Art : Concept, Paris
Known for her diverse and varied sources of inspiration, this time Vidya Gastaldon draws from the repertoire of pop music and sets the tone of her new solo exhibition titled “Hello From the Other Side”.
Even though this may be seen as an assumed reference to the hit song by famous songwriter Adele, it certainly isn’t a sentimental settling of accounts. Questionings raised by the Franco-Swiss artist only very rarely fall in within the field of autobiography. Yet the title wonderfully suits her work, a work that also seems to be coming from elsewhere, a place from which the artist beckons us. Oil paintings and wool sculptures thus invite us to travel beyond the boundaries of reality, entering a visionary, sometimes disturbing but never morbid “other side”.
The artist continues the series of oil paintings initiated in 2013 and called “Healing Paintings”. She covers almost entirely—and regardless of the limits imposed by the frames—old canvases unearthed at flea markets or charity sales. She gives them new life without erasing their previous existence. Deeply marked by Indian non-dualistic schools of thought, Vidya Gastaldon makes the processes of reincarnation or transmigration of souls perceptible, and she does that by making use of pigment. Avoiding all forms of dogmatism, she rather operates a form of distancing from different systems of belief. New monstrous and anthropomorphic figures repopulate the canvas, inviting the viewer, like Paul Grimault’s characters (La bergère et le Ramoneur) or JK Rowling’s living pictures, to cross to the other side. These “painterly-creatures”, inhabited or haunted by what they used to be (the artist also admits her difficulty to consider them as her own) radically abolish the boundary between a viewer and the object of his gaze.
As convert to the same mysticism, the hanging sculpture made of knitted wool on thin wooden sticks creates corridor or tunnel levitating in space. Always working on the tetrahedral shape, Le Long Chariot Mixcoatl is made in a less geometric and more ornate way, inspired by bioluminescent organisms found in the ocean’s depths, the ones deprived of photosynthesis. However, references to the underwater world offer only a partial reading of the work. As often with Vidya Gastaldon, we must refer to the mythological field. The bioluminescent body then gives way to the “cloud serpent”, literal translation of the term “Mixcoatl” designating an Aztec deity. But beyond a specifically identified mythology—this snake can just as easily evoke the processional dragons of Chinese New Year—these forms being mostly universally psychic travel media.
By throwing out her light and unusual invitation, Vidya Gastaldon brilliantly and humorously succeeds to convince us to join her “other side”. And in this spiritual journey, the artist shows herself audacious, both on formal and on conceptual levels. Mixing a plurality of references, from pop music or art history as a starting point to Aztec mythology, through the metaphysical teachings from India or elsewhere her work escapes all aesthetic theoretical and ideological compartmentalisation.
at Art : Concept, Paris
until 12 March 2016
Acapulco brain, 2016
A huge ever growing…, 2016
Marine monster, 2016
Healing Painting (Désastre mauve), 2016
First Human, 2015
Tête de fleur, 2016
Le long charriot Mixcoatl, 2014
Vidya Gastaldon “Hello From The Other Side” installation views at Art : Concept, Paris, 2016
Courtesy: the artist and Art : Concept, Paris. Photo: Claire Dorn