Agnès Guillaume, a journey through her nights

Muriel de Crayencour
16 décembre 2016
In Antwerp, at De Zwarte Panter, video artist Agnès Guillaume is showing videos but also edited and reworked screenshots from these films. She is sharing the space of this almost fifty-year old gallery with Michel Buylen, whose hyperrealist portraits of young women set in a hyperbolic and enchanted universe, we get to discover as well.

Agnès Guillaume (1962, Leuwen) lives and works between Paris and Brussels. After spending years practicing singing and music, she began making videos in 2010. Six years later, her very unusual world was on display at the Petit Palais in Paris and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux under the exhibition Fantastique! We had already had the chance to discover her work atin April 2014.

The narrative thread of the works of Agnès Guillaume is clear and present. It takes us into a strange world between dream and reality. At first, we think that we are going to be told a story, but maybe it’s just smoke and mirrors. We do perceive metaphors and stylistic tricks, but there is no will to describe things. Watch You said Love is Eternity, a video on three screens. In the centre, two pairs of hands meet, stroke and touch each other, exchanging cuddles. On the right, a woman’s hands peel an onion. Does this make her cry? We can’t see this woman’s face. On the left, another pair of hands, those of a man. They hold a bluish sphere. Together they form a chain where love and tenderness, but also life, are the binding links.

In another room, we come across My Fears, a close-up on the artist’s face. She’s applied red lipstick and a pale white foundation. The mouth opens, releasing a long scream. The next shot shows a torso, also white. Suddenly, white mice come out of the navel. One by one. Trembling, on the plateau formed by the bust, they feel their way. Further on, My Nights presents an endless flight of black birds, whose silhouettes move slowly across, standing out on the almost white background, on which the artist’s face appears.

For these latter videos – two first self-portraits of a series of four – the artist imposed several aesthetic constraints on hersef: single screen, appearance of the artist on screen and her interaction with white animals, two-tone image, here white and dark blue, and white and red. The videos are accompanied by a series of print-outs. Worth noting are the very beautiful stills from My Nights, printed in several layers on paper and film, then assembled.

The universe created by Agnès Guillaume comes from her dreams, her inner secret feelings. By offering them in this way, she shares with the viewer perceptions and emotions that he or she, too, can capture and experience since they are universal: attachment, fear, anguish, loneliness, tenderness, fear… By entering the worlds in these videos, we agree to immerse ourselves in a flow of emotions, those of the human race. Beautiful and frightening at the same time.
Agnès Guillaumes
Insight Out
Galerie De Zwarte Panter
70-72-74 Hoogstraat
2000 Antwerp
Until 8 January 2017
Thursdays - Sundays, from 13:30h to 18:00h

Muriel de Crayencour

Rédactrice en chef

Voir et regarder l’art. Puis transformer en mots cette expérience première, qui est comme une respiration. « L’écriture permet de transmuter ce que l’œil a vu. Ce processus me fascine. » Philosophe et sculptrice de formation, elle a été journaliste entre autres pour L’Echo et Marianne Belgique. Elle revendique de pouvoir écrire dans un style à la fois accessible et subjectif. La critique est permise ! Elle écrit sur l’art, la politique culturelle, l’évolution des musées et de la manière de montrer l’art. Elle est aussi artiste. Elle a fondé le magazine Mu in the City en 2014.