ESSAYS, INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS
Manon Bara - 2014 - A Beautiful Greediness [EN, essay]
On the work of Manon Bara
As I followed the work of Manon Bara (b. 1985), ever since she had graduated from art school, I have gone from one surprise to another, in view of the way she has been absorbing the world, gobbling it up, transforming it into an object of wonder for the beholder. I have seen films by this artist, and sculptures, drawings, T-shirts, but most of all, paintings. Often those paintings have been painted on an unusual support, such as small statues of the holy virgin, ceramic tiles, glass structures used to protect or decorate lamps, or also hub caps. Nothing seems able to escape, but some things do escape. The objects on which she paints, often enough, already play a part as decorative or devotional objects in the life of the people who buy and value them. We do not know who those people are, but we feel close to them through the artist’s work of ennoblement.
Born into a politically and socially committed family, Bara looks at the world with the eyes of a lover. And her heart is as large as the sun. Her eyes sparkle when, during a stroll in Brussels, she points to dozens of beautiful things which move her: a shop window with sports trophies, a beautiful scooter, paving stones ‘as neatly polished as teeth’, the sign of a chippie ‘in a beautiful, rounded, sixties style of writing’. The same passion can be felt in her greedy paintings, which seem eager to envelop the world, to translate it, to offer it…
Painting as she does with lacquer, she has acquired an amazing mastery of that material, which seduces us through its immediate beauty, one that is almost vulgar, and unusual within the realm of contemporary art. Her portraits of musicians on hub caps are surprising and they will cheer you up. Although joy intermingles in them with sadness, with melancholy, they never become ponderous. Let this be clear: this is a work which delights me, which gives me a desire to live, to be part of this world. It is a work which talks, thrashes about, and refuses to cease existing. More room should be given to this artist and to her work! Allow it to develop! In all senses and directions! By switching to other types of painting, to other topics, to other supports! I would like to see more! Too often, after she has made a show of her enthusiasm for a subject or for a way of doing things, she ends up saying ‘But I’d better cool down about this…’. As for me, I would like her never to cool down.
Montagne de Miel, 23 May 2014