Two paintings from 1973, titled Self-Portrait (Bribes de corps) (Body Parts), show pink and orange flesh engulfing the picture plane, save for small cleavages at the perimeter of the paintings that suggest lips, labia, or ample buttocks. Some of them are still more abstract: A different painting from the same year zeros in on yellow masses separated only by a sinuous vein; another shows mountainous pink forms intersecting, with a fine slither of light visible in a break between them. The 1976 work Bribes de corps (Body Parts) is a white plane interrupted only by pink and yellow shapes that emerge from two corners of the canvas, evoking male and female genitalia. (The perky head of a phallus? Breasts? Testicles?) They are connected by a faint line. Cleavaged and conjoined parts are abundant across the series, as are bodies that are full, generous, and free.
In Paris, Caland found liberty and pleasure, but not necessarily artistic acceptance. Her erotic work was “very controversial, in an unpleasant way,” said Brigitte. “It was dismissively received—like she didn’t know how to do anything else.” The cultural establishment felt that “she wasn’t an artist or painter because all she did was erotic work—which wasn’t true, but this was the perception.” While the avant-garde bohemia of Paris maybe wasn’t “as critical, not as judgemental,” as the cultural milieu of Beirut, she said, it was not positive. Her exhibition history is thin, even in Paris, up until the 1990s, when her work began to draw recognition in the Middle East. By then, she had settled in California, and her work had evolved to quite different subject matter—cityscapes and textile-like fields of abstract pattern.