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Isabelle Pelissier: Folio Notebooks

  Isabelle Pelissier is a sculptor, painter and metalwork artist currently living in Buffalo, New York. She attended art school in Paris, France, and began using metal in New Mexico. She has had solo exhibitions in Paris (1995), Santa Fe (1999), and Buffalo (2000, 2004). She has participated in group exhibitions at Hallwalls in Buffalo, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
   In an alcove of her most recent solo exhibition (Buffalo Arts Studio, 2004), seven individual notebooks (bound in a rough, black vinyl) were chained to a central metal block, providing a clear indication of their connection to her sculptural pieces, literally affixed in a position of subservience to the more imposing steel forms and designs that filled the largest spaces of the gallery. The notebooks are, in her mind, a kind of background and foundational surface from which to realize her plastic and serial projects. In them one can witness the tumult of creation-the speed of execution, the fulfillment of near-monochromatic studies, and also a private mythology of figures, faces, couches, and landscapes. Yet there is none of that myriad repetition as can be found in many of her permanent installations. The combination of major elements in the design are abrupt but never simplistic; in them one may choose to see gestures not unlike Jessfs, or a kind of Twombly-twigginess scattered under the wheels of Schwittersfs ox-cart. Not least important in these pages are the bits and scraps of language, which sometimes offset or clarify the images on the page. Certain themes begin to emerge during a careful survey of the collaged, painted, and drawn pages: the weather, oversized oil drums, dull greens and oily blues clashing with menacing orange, pink, red and white slabs. A story about a giraffe and a street-worker seems to emerge, or a stevedore hauling-up an oil drum single-handedly to impress women whose lips, eyebrows or hips stretch to outweigh all their other features. Yet just as often there are landscapes traversed by giant high-heeled divas, bulbous or filamented trees, aqueducts, or else the earth is inhabited by ornate chairs, disfigured faces, and hundreds of seemingly misplaced products from the aisles of discount stores, becoming spiny Southwestern plant-forms or simply a dry, living matter.
   As her background work, and in their beautiful speed, the pages deceptively portray a sense of impatience and frustration; and yet, when given the distance and stillness they require, the images become iconic and incomparable. They reveal their singularity-but can also lend feelings of intrusion, images of distaste, or even claustrophobia. What is far more important is the characteristic surprise which these notebooks transmit-the images wonft settle into complacency; color and form are never arranged to console, comfort or offer compensation. There is a fierce and delicate energy here which is not easily captured in small, digital versions or if skimmed in quick succession. It is the energy of a realization composed by contingency and humor, by a great desire for renewed forms and altered spaces which parse the syntax of a new dreaming and habitation. The expression of speed is not to dismiss care, because, in their uniqueness, these images are built from a subtlety in which the unresolved spectator finds order on the cusp of unveiling itself. There is a celerity that comprehends all the minute changes of every prosthetic gauge linking us, lying to us about our metabolic substrates. It is substrate-formation, via color and torque, and a sharp text-lesson comprised of the perceptual analogues to her psychological experience of internal concepts. Concepts of a social, political, fantasy notation that is also our own static hallucination, our commercial helplessness.

Douglas Manson