Galerie Sebastien Bertrand is pleased to present the first solo exhibition held in Switzerland by artist Chloe Wise (1990, Canada – NY).
For this exhibition, the gallery was transformed into a studio/work residency for a few weeks, during which Chloe Wise produced new artworks in the gallery space, creating sculptures and paintings of food (a subject she is already known for) and more precisely, producing works centered around what one might find at a picnic.
In this case, Wise’s picnic is an erotic and sumptuous one, boasting fake food, where cheese is placed alongside high-end brand logos, jam, models basking in the great outdoors, and nudes in fields, in a gratuitous combination of painting, sculpture and installation.
Imbued in her art practice is a distinct and delightful derision and self-deprecating parody. She celebrates yet satirizes her subjects, with a childlike yet intelligent humour. In previous series, Wise paints meta-images of self-portraits within self-portraits, makes Chanel and Louis Vuitton bags in the form of bread and toast, stars of David in fake bacon, and video parodies of the media and commercialization of youth, women, artists and overall «coolness».
Thus the tools of self-representation, publicity, fashion, religion, commercial brands, and all that combine to create ones identity, become subject to a potential teasing, underlining just how much humour and parody can generate an insightful and sharp critique of the world, and specifically the authority of media in the digital paradigm.
What comes systematically from Chloe Wise’s work is a mischievous and playful spirit. In French, “mischievous”, often used to describe a child’s attitude, has the same etymology as the word “mutiny”, which translates as the underlying critical reach of such a position.
Wise invites us to experience an abundance of rich food and nude flesh, reflecting a consumerist society, in which the forbidden fruit, so to speak, like so many guilty pleasures, is fetishized yet revered, as an embodiment of temptation.
For Wise, bread is a symbol of luxury and opulence. Her Louis Vuitton baguette bags, a pun taken literally, become mutant objects, both funny and simultaneously disturbing.
Much like the imagery of a Greek symposium, Wise underlines the link between gastronomic pleasure and the frivolities of the flesh. Food is thus linked to desire, lust, and excessive sins, as well as to freedom, the exchange of ideas, and power dynamics .
The picnic, a historical symbol of hedonism, appears in Wise’s work through archival plastic sculptures, contrary to what they represent – perishable food, destined for decomposition. These sandwiches and foods are frozen in time, immortalized despite their inviting appearance.
That’s something else, my sweet is taken from E.E. Cummings’ poem If I. The tone of the passage is simultaneously condescending yet affectionate, as though spoken by someone who would console you after having tricked you moments before. The question lies, is Chloe Wise the creator of the trap we find ourselves in, or has she just positioned herself as a wise witness to the images she presents. One thing is certain: 24-year-old Wise looks at what surrounds her with a clear-sighted and sharp eye, conveying a spontaneous and subtle critique, without losing, for a moment, the pleasures found in a simple game.