One sweet Moment
Galerie Claire Gastaud
September 22–October 28, 2017
5 & 7 Rue du Terrail
63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

Henni Alftan structures an imagination guided by fragmentation, that of the image, bodies, objects and narration. Nothing is ever given to us in its whole, the artist carefully examines the details to deviate as much as possible the notion of narrative. The narrative and temporal dimension of painting escapes. Chat is excluded. For this, the artist works the question of the framework and the framing of the subjects that she invents from her daily observations. From a specific scene, it will retain a look, a hand, an object, a silhouette, a shadow, the detail of a piece of clothing, a gesture, a pattern, a color. By reproducing the details of everyday life, of the common, Henni Alftan invites us to reflect on what we see, on the visible world and its modes of representations. In this sense, the works lead us to think of the image through the painting object: its history, its topicality, its legitimacy, its materiality and its conceptual dimension.

Henni Alftan explores the issues inherent in two cross stories, that painting and photography. It pursues and analyzes pictorial issues: the surface, the depth, the flatness, the color, the object, the look, line, composition, pattern, framing, story (or rather the refusal of story), the image in the image, the mirror or the montage. If her painting is figurative, it is in no way part of an approach where the real would be perfectly imitated. She does not set up any pictorial demonstration which would create an illusion. However, photography, its history and its actuality, plays an important role in the construction of her works and in her way of seeing the real. It is particularly present in its choices of framing which often are out of step with those usually used in painting. She gladly quotes the work of Wolfgang Tillmans whose interest in the dimension image physics, decontextualization, pattern taking, anonymity, shapes, materials and colors find a certain echo with his paintings. “I would like to see the moment when the painting begins to reference, to resemble to something other than herself. That’s why I try to give only the necessary amount of elements, clues. (What you think you see is often out of sight.) ” Indeed, the notion of look connects painting and photography issues. Almost systematic, the artist dodges direct visual contact between the figured subject and that of the viewer. Face to face is avoided in favor of strange and poetic situations. The question of the look is recurrent throughout the works: a woman in front of a mirror puts a lens on her eye, another looks at herself in the blade of a knife, a man’s eyes are blocked by black shadows, a sleeping couple is lying in the grass under the shade of a tree, a swimmer turns her back to us. The looks are absent, prevented, obstructed, diverted, or duplicated. So the share of subjectivity, interpretation or projection is voluntarily reduced so that the viewer can focus their attention on the details, the clues and the beginnings of a story made impossible.

Into the hollow of this reflection on the representation of reality, of the subject and of the one who look, Henni Alftan distills an atmosphere fueled by a disturbing strangeness. The works are crossed by disturbing silence and violence deaf: hand gloved by a surgeon extracts an organ from a body during an operation, an arm naked man with bruised skin, a man wears glasses with one of the glasses is broken, flames escaping from a window, a submerged body (drowned?) in a bathtub, a long scar around one ear. To that added the recurrence of knives, masks, shadows, missing faces and the splitting of bodies. The artist also works to form filters on, in or through the scenes depicted. These function as screens or veils of repeated patterns that flood the first or the background. A pouring downpour, the leaves of a tree, flowers, the ornamentation of a wallpaper, a leopard fur coat, a T-shirt in lace, tall grass, a fence. So, Henni Alftan manipulates and disturbs the meaning of the images it gives us to see. With a simple and effective style, she questions our relationship to the construction of the image by blurring the registers, references, space and time indices.