Ten years after discovering her, Galerie BE-ESPACE turns the spotlight once again on Franco-Czech artist Alexandra PARIKOVA. From 5 June to 21 July 2014, the exhibition "RE-EMBODIMENTS" presents her extraordinary figures. Whatever the medium - painting or collage - she always cuts to the quick, capturing all the avatars of her subjects. In tune with her own private and public personality, she gives a voice to flesh and faces. In 2D or 3D, she uses colour palettes, textures and volumetric perspectives to produce a striking sense of depth. She even reveals the dark side of Basquiat as an icon lit by blue neon light.
Alexandra Parikova’s work focuses on the faces and bodies of other people. At 40 years old, she holds up an uncompromising mirror that reflects the difficulty of being ourselves, of escaping from the image-prison we are forced to occupy, and of simply becoming what we are.
Her gallery of portraits gives us an initial set of answers…and features an emblematic figure, namely Basquiat. For him, she pushes the technique of collage into the third dimension. She sticks tubes of paint, toys and figurines onto his wooden torso, as if he was wearing his life on his sleeve. As if all these objects concealed the hidden emotional charge, the « naïve » secret of an extraordinary life trajectory. Painted blood red, they express the toughness of the artist’s struggle, ultimately crowned with a blue neon halo of recognition. Her other compositions involve the same expertise: a mixture of materials (textiles, leather, twigs, bones), unusual accessories (zips, ribbons, the eyes of cuddly toys) and a subtle sense of perspective in her textures and facial features. As allusions to famous personalities or tributes to people she loves, all her works tell the story of a real or imagined one-to-one encounter between artist and subject. She attempts to approach and capture their authentic selves.
When she paints bodies, Alexandra Parikova hides and stylises their faces. Perhaps she keeps facial expressions for her collages, and the revelation of identity to two clearly separate vectors? Eyes and smiles reflect a desire to appear in a certain way to others: a label that can be stuck on and taken off again… Bodies have a kind of truth that is more raw and direct: a more visceral form of embodiment. Her écorchés and nudes say as much, if not more, than facial expressions. She lines up male bodies in a triptych along a white tiled wall. Their flesh is torn open; shadows of themselves, they stand out as cold reflections. She watches the men fall from their teetering pedestals of certainty, hanging by a thread from the scaffold of life.
And then we have her Egon Schiele-style women. A new take on the « hanged man » tarot card, they lie upside down with death masks clamped to their faces. Women under the influence, corseted in their flesh, they seem to be struggling with the demons of advancing age: waiting for a rebirth that says « Memento Mori »: remember that you will die.
To play with the male/female mirror effect, Parikova draws her painterly idiom from a palette where subtle shades take the place of her usual stark, strong areas of colour. Each sex has its own tone, its own complexion, its own form of transparency - beyond their specific anatomy, their sensitive zones, and their obvious contrasts. Parikova rummages in their entrails, revealing their flaws. She sets off knee-jerk responses and transforms them into visual tremors. Above all, she sees these men and women as the avatars of her own artistic and human quest.
Franco-Czech artist Alexandra Parikova was born in 1974 in Hasselt (Belgium). After sharing her time between France and the Czech Republic (Prague), she now lives and works in Paris. She is self-taught and initially embraced the art deco/cubist style. Her compositions combined geometric forms and strong lines, interlocking like destructured puzzles with vivid expanses of colour creating stark contrast. She painted a lot of still lives. She then turned to portraits, which soon became her preferred theme. The need for a more accomplished drawing style soon emerged: from the first sketch to more painstakingly executed lines, even closer to the outlines of identity.
In 2004 she exhibited for the first time in Paris, at Galerie BE-Espace. In 2006, she met the collector Meda Mladkova, founder of the Kampa contemporary art museum in Prague. Parikova exhibited – next to Andy Warhol – some thirty portraits of personalities including former Czech president Vaclav Havel and Madeleine Albright. Havel’s portrait now belongs to the Dagmar Foundations; Allbright’s is in a private collection in the United States. In 2008, the Czech Cultural Centre in Prague presented a series of collages. In 2014, she returns to Galerie BE-Espace in Paris with paintings that have never been shown before in Paris and some that are being shown here for the first time ever. She reveals the latest facet of her talent: a powerful painting style, a razor-sharp technique, and incisive artistic expression. Parikova is back in style with a set of artworks in which body and soul are, literally, one.