Nathalie Campion: Autofiction – Dans la peau de l’écorce is on view at Boondael Chapel Art Center, Brussels
November 16 – December 3, 2023
Curated by Lee Bauwens Gallery
Keen to express the power and vulnerability of the natural world, visual artist Nathalie Campion is presenting an original ceramic installation for the Chapelle de Boondael, inspired by life, nature and the universal bond that unites us all.
After years of exploration and inner journeys, the sculptor appropriates the material and shapes it in reflection of the immensity of nature and the infinite answers that reside within it. Her research has progressively led her to revolutionize the everyday aspects of her practice and transcend her imagination. This necessary and cathartic process of putting herself at risk eventually caused an internal crack, from which the buried and intimate pieces of the self can now emerge, much like the diversity and fertility of life beneath the bark of a tree.
The installation created for the exhibition offers a journey through the sensuality of the earth. Drawing inspiration from various contexts, it traverses the fragile and gaping earth’s crust while evoking the multitude of bodies subject to confinement. It questions the possibility of harmony: as the protection of the earth’s crust continues to crack, and the earth fragments into countless pieces, humans, tirelessly, either exhibit themselves or protect themselves in fear of confronting the debacle.
The omnipresent white, reminiscent of the sacrificial and the liturgical, here foreshadows absence and the immaterial. Similar to her sculptures, the artist has long hidden behind protective bark to the extent of forgetting any possibility of a personal life. The protective and damaged layers, ever-present in her work, like a second skin, open for the first time, causing a transformative movement: they become the limbs of an organism, a receptacle of a life both lived and fantasized.
Campion’s sculptures, free from any pretension, draw from a transgenerational emotional memory and her dreams, where nature and humanity intertwine to create a poetic and sensitive narrative. For her, death is not final and carries a form of vitality, bestowed upon it by life itself. She envisions that after their disappearance, bodies (re)become forests and, in doing so, return the energy stolen from the elements in a final breath of eternity.
The fragmented images that appear to us are connected to childhood as well as organic bodies, inspired by pre-Columbian art and infused with contemporary artistic references. Placed side by side, they form an enigma: an indecipherable and elusive language for anyone, not even for the artist, who is evidently entranced by their rhythm.
In the presence of Campion’s work, we experience a return to the Earth and become witnesses to a dialogue between its pockmarked surface and buried fragments of life. The fragility and density of the work resonate with the lived or rather unlived experience, like a dream, of which Nathalie Campion seems to be the guardian. Simultaneously addressing the memory of nature and the potential of human evolution, the artist’s serene and confident work, profoundly human and subjective, shows us their interdependence and raises the question of life, or rather, rebirth.
Text by Barbara Cuglietta, 2023
Exhibition promoted & supported by Culture Ixelles.
Boondael Chapel Art Center
10, Square du Vieux Tilleul