Nikki de Saint-Phalle and Frida Khalo.
Why associate these two women artists who at first glance have nothing to do with each other?
Different territories, different nationalities, different artistic movements, different eras...
And yet, for me they come together in the same evocation. That of a certain expressive power, that of the pink color and the pattern.
Bruised body, overcoming physical suffering through creation. We generally know the work but also the destiny of Frida Kahlo well. Thanks to her very recognizable pictorial style since she used the form of the self-portrait extensively. But also because of her narrative choices: a figurative art which depicts the traumas she endured. We know almost everything about her. The illness which immobilizes and handicaps him for life. The terrible accident which ravaged her privacy condemned her to months of corseted convalescence. Resilience too: she will be a powerful seductress who finds healing through art.
Thus her face, her look, her style have left a strong mark on the panorama of female artistic creation. She has become an icon of feminism. His style is analyzed, taken up, dissected, confers the recent exhibition at the Palais Galliera dedicated to his very particular universe.
This identity is also largely overexploited, even co-opted. We find Frida Kahlo's face, her first name, on t-shirts, mugs, posters, bags. It seems to me that his work is losing impact by being so varied. His nieces are fighting to try to recover the rights to his image, sold years ago to a businessman.
But after all, perhaps she would find it appropriate, she who made her own image the medium of her creation. its colorful and hypnotic style a feminist statement. Perhaps she would appreciate being transformed into a pop-culture icon in this way.
Nikki de Saint-Phalle is more confidential, less known to the general public. And yet, many people were able to come across one of his sculptures one day: giant girls, flamboyant colors, exuberant and phantasmagorical creatures.
Nikki de Saint-Phalle could also be an icon of feminism. She shares with Frida Kahlo a certain community of destiny. A lovely young woman, she begins a career as a model and is hospitalized for depression. She underwent months of electroshock treatment in a psychiatric hospital which left her with serious after-effects and also suffered until her death from pulmonary problems, due to the polystyrene dust and microparticles inhaled during her first years of creation while she was plastic sculptor. She would later reveal that she had been a victim of incest during her adolescence.
Creation is also a medium of resilience for her. She explores the inner twists and turns of femininity, reveals them to the eye or sublimates them with creative rage. A literal rage at times, as in his famous shooting performances. An anger appeased and glorified to others, as with the era of triumphant and magnificent girls.
Presenting to the public ravaged, gutted, decadent but also glorious and oversized women, dominating the entire world with their size and shape.
In these two women, there is this transfirguation of the traumas of their intimacy which touches me. Terrible ordeals, felt in their flesh, which they overcome and shape like a material, making their femininity triumph in some way through color and pattern: floral, geometric, explosive and fascinating.
My creations inspired by these two women make a lot of room for pink or the choice of prints that evoke their palette. Thus the Nikki dress and the Indian pink Cléo skirt come directly from my readings and observations of their work.