Heroes and Villains show at CP&B, 32 York Way, London N1
29 June - 25 August 2017
Exhibition of Prints and Original Artworks by Delphine Lebourgeois on show in London.
In this exciting retrospective and exhibition of new works on paper by Delphine Lebourgeois, the work reflects on her own experiences of battling with fears, the adult’s role in an increasingly fearful political landscape and the notion of searching for an antidote to scaremongering. Delphine also addresses the subtleties of being protector and being protected.
In our society children are lauded as innocence personified yet are used and abused by adults to sell goods, feelings and ultimately to sell that ever desirable elixir; “youth”. Of course these are our concerns in war-free western societies, we worry about our children’s over stimulation, too much screen time, internet safety and the dangers of peer pressure. But these worries can be put into perspective when looking more deeply at Delphine’s work. The transition of first world concerns to seemingly distant third world concerns is summed up in original drawing ‘Bye Bye Mummy’ which tells the story of the indoctrination of our youth by groups who prey on their malleable minds.
The more upbeat figures in her pieces are excitably bright, with neon colours emanating from their details. In Rebel I the young girl in the frame exudes innocence, fun and vitality where the other also young children look on with a wanton expression. Why are they missing that carefree attitude? Delphine asks us what changed in them to have to line up, to conform and become just one of many rather than an individual relishing life? Who is making them do this? Are they subjected by force or is this all a part of a necessary transition to adulthood, where we relinquish the carefree days of bubble gum balloons and super hero tops to all wearing the same clothing and emblems of conformity?
Rebel 1 - Delphine Lebourgeois 2017
So many of Lebourgeois’ works are drawn on personal reactions, her initial pieces in the ‘Superhero’ series were conceived following the terrorist attacks in Bataclan, Paris and whilst we try not to delve too deeply into our Artist’s sources and personal lives we felt compelled to ask Delphine where the inspiration for these young girls had come from; her response “the battles in my work could be taken to be a comment on societal pressures to conform, where our inner personality may compete with our outer persona, we can wage personal battles on ourselves in most aspects of our lives” . Delphine went on to tell us that in the western or developed world ‘war’ for us in a mostly peaceful society can take place anywhere, the playground, over our neighbours’ fence, or even within our own heads. So characters in each of her works can be taken literally or as representation for aspects of an individual’s personality. Delphine depicts ways in which we quench these battles, the antidote to fearmongering, Delphine suggests we fight fear in a range of ways : the antidote can be love, it can be rebellion, it can be individual empowerment and it can be resistance or non-conformity.
We see simple single young figures in Delphine’s work looking carefree, and often surrounded by troupes or lines of other figures, and can understand her move towards an introspective look at the notion of ‘community’, and our search for a sense of belonging. Delphine tells us that her work is very often a kind of therapy for her, that current affairs influence her drawing on a most visceral level. The girls’ faces in the line up of Rebel II look to us for answers as they hold their shields in front of them, their masks seek to quench their identities but we see glimpses of their former personalities shining through, wild hair, tilted heads, mouths aghast.
Arche by Delphine Lebourgeois - 2017
In Arche the theme of protection of innocents is again explored in bewitching detail. Here a desperate cacophony of women scramble to protect a small unknowing child who gently crouches to feed a small sparrow beneath. The sparrow we assume is the inner child reconnecting with nature, of shaking off the material obsessions and looking to nature for guidance.
In this piece the central child is a symbol of innocence like in her other works, but here there is an important variation, those seeking to protect the child here are women, all adorned in many different ways, with head-dresses (again a common theme in Delphine’s work) they all wear the same army issue boots, and have the same pistol in their hands, outstretched to affront an unseen aggressor off page. Of course Delphine’s work can be interpreted in many ways and what we find so interesting when we exhibit her work is the varied interpretations that unfold.
These works are so powerful for their message that women can be the superheroes when protecting against the secret aggressors. Here we take this display as a comment of the unification of women and of course mothers in their fight to protect their children (and themselves), they are all dressed and present differently but all tool themselves in the same way boots, gun and arms outstretched. Perhaps here Delphine is hoping to alert us to the commonality that we share as women all over the world, as protectors of our young regardless of our backgrounds, wealth and adornments. We all have a common goal, to protect our children long enough that they must be the next generation to foster hope.
The theme of mother or female as protector is also explored in the beautiful original drawings Safe I, Dual I and Dual II
For us at Gas Gallery we are always excited to see new work by Delphine Lebourgeois. Her work can be decorative and pleasing to the eye, the colours always pop and her use of pattern, intricate layering and texture in her work is always a delight. However this is just one facet of her work, her narratives and comments on society, our failures and our passions as humans always make us stop in our tracks, take stock of what is happening around us and breathe just that little bit deeper.
View all of Delphine Lebourgeois' original drawings
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