10th - 13th Oct 2024Saatchi Gallery, London

The Art of Self-expression

Christophe Streichenberger, KODAKISS, 2021, Paper collage and acrylic on canvas, 130✕97cm

Born out of the desire to evoke subjective emotion and the inner world of the artist, the late 19th and early 20th century bore witness to the boom of Expressionism, renowned for its qualities of self-expression, exaggeration, and often distortion of reality to illustrate the artist’s most wild imaginations. From the heightened color palette of Francis Bacon to the abstract shapes and figures of Picasso, Expressionist artists are commonly inspired by questions of the self, philosophy, and spirituality. This week, FOCUS Art Fair features four contemporary artists who are represented by JLF Gallery in France. Working with different mediums, ideas, and inspirations, the four artists are reunited in their passion for self-expression and their exploration of human emotions.

Karine Langevin , Will, 2022, Resin and mixed media on canvas, 80✕60cm

Karine Langevin’s artistic inspiration is drawn from her background as a fine art major, as well as her passion for pop art and expressionism. Her journey of creating art has significantly transformed throughout her career — beginning with figurative oil paintings, and transitioning to the exploration of abstract expression. Langevin’s artworks capture the viewer with their bold, vivid, and wild strokes of color. In ‘Will’ (2022), the female subject, depicted with blots of green, blue, pink, and yellow, crouches in a sea of red paint. The stark juxtaposition within the color palette emphasizes the mysterious stare of the portrayed woman. Similar to Langevin, artist Christophe Streichenberger also draws inspiration from pop art. His works seek to reunite two very different strains of art: the pop art of vintage magazines and advertisements, as well as the organic and expressionist styles of great artists such as Francis Bacon. The combination of the two produce a rather violent, irreconcilable assemblage: the viewer is confronted by the juxtaposition between the geometrical and the organic, the figurative and the abstract, as well as emptiness and saturation. By overlaying a mesh frame on top of his paintings, the artist conveys a sense of coldness, disorder, and mutual suffering.

Christophe Streichenberger, Enjoy smoking, 2021, Paper collage and acrylic on canvas, 100✕81cm

French artist Carole Melmoux works with three different art forms to create meaning and emotion. Melmoux draws on her past training as a classical dancer at the Paris National Conservatory of Dance. Her works, therefore, feature heavily the elements of fluidity and motion, represented by soft, gestural brushstrokes that create dream-like landscapes and portraits. Her vibrant use of color creates paintings reminiscent of the great works of Fauvism. In her painting ‘Aimer cru...’ (2016), the subjects of the painting dance together in the dull glow of light, with limbs entangled in between one another. Melmoux furthermore explores her background as a graduate of modern literature by instilling in her artworks a touch of poetry. She explores topics that are prevalent literary tropes, such as nature, the human condition, and both the urban and rural landscape.

Carole Melmoux, Amier cru…, 2016, Oil and acrylic on the canvas, 33✕24cm

Contrary to the aforementioned artists, photographer Franksan creates expressionist art through the medium of photography. His lens captures the perspective of a street wanderer navigating the metropolis of Japan, captivated by the diverse, intimidating architecture of the country’s greatest cities. In his series, ‘Tokyo Square’, Franksan breathes life into ordinary scenes from the urban landscape. By placing emphasis on the bright neon colors of the skyscrapers and pedestrian lights, the artist creates an alternate reality to familiar city scenes. His technique of superimposition — overlaying photographic images on top of each other, furthermore duplicates the sense of intimidation and claustrophobia that one may experience walking through the grand streets of Tokyo.

Franksan, Tokyo Square #1

Written by Rose Wei