It starts with the comb’s teeth, having streaked the wet hair, greased with the gel agglutinating on the wooden handle, like sticky slobber, thick foam. There is too much of it, and it leaks from the body, through its lifeless ends, pushed out by the sweep of the hand, both firm and delicate.
Seeing this image on the invite, which accompanies the first solo exhibition of Tiziana La Melia in France, at Gallery Anne Barrault, a question arises, among so many others: Where do cosmetic surpluses go when they take leave from human beings? Letting my mind wander, I imagine that some of them become clouds, gaseous masses intoxicating the air with evaporated care, leaving the flesh to its trivial solitude. Others, stubborn and viscous, mingle with the underground water, filth and a larger accretion of chemical and biological residue, colonizing them with iridescent puddles, reminding one of rubbed, scratched, cleaned skins. Are the insects, birds and rats, when they go across these pools, disturbed by the smell? Do they too resort to tricks to make themselves pretty?
I should warn you, I do not ask for clear or definite answers to the above questions. I will be satisfied with answers that will take me furthest into the depth of what I am made to see, or read. As a matter of fact, in the same way, the title of the exhibition suggests a new avenue: “Broom Emotion”. You imagine these words are spoken in a warm and pervasive voice, at the end of commercial, the last shots of which show the shape of a body astride, a flying broom passing in front of the night landscape of a full moonlit sky. Memories of witches, of the odyssey of lonely women looking at the world from afar – a new gathering of characters appear – and with it, an imaginative universe is projected through the exhibition.
If you can see in these images, which surround you, some taste for semantic assembling, you must know that Tiziana is also a poet, and poetry – which does not precede her material activities but occurs in tandem – acts, in the heart of her work, as a lever which upsets rationality, triggering possible stories brought about by other shapes of power. The poetic path that Tiziana follows moves through territories as varied as daily domestic activities, social relationships, literature, cinema, art and dreams. She is not set on any particular medium, using the opportunities given by a still or moving image, drawing, painting, sculpture or performance to embody the different aspects of her relationship with her material and symbolic environment. Writing, a process which on one hand releases the auto-fictative character of work, and, on the other hand, allows the birth of new potentialities to determine things, seems to be the framework of her practice in general.
Above all, through these more or less abrupt collages of images, shapes and materials, and by means of narratives between works, Tiziana makes scenes appear. Between the walls of Gallery Anne Barrault, primed like a canvas, the inside space of which we would pace, the pieces enter into dialogue on a background of pastoral allusions: swarming the space are hay bundles and the air is filled with a pleasant scent; sand is spread on the floor up to the paintings, like the dust propagating in an old barn; broken egg shells – of such a size you wonder what bird would have laid them – are waiting, here and there, for something. Like the scenery of a tale or a fable whose missing words allow the objects take over the story, feeding the evocative meanings, and thus maintain a folk tradition the memory of which vanishes. Stories of witchcraft, of farmyard, of pagan ceremonies with forgotten rites mingle with Tiziana’s vapors: her characteristic touch, her comical qualities, and a discreet, ageless kitsch that she combines with care.
Some will say that behind these stylized representations and these many-coloured abstractions there is bad taste. As for me, I see – in these oversaturated effects, in these disjunctive parallels, which endow things with ambiguous powers – a specific way of affecting shapes, giving them a mark asserting the intimate, nearly organic relationship, which links them to their author. In Tiziana’s work there is a quality that resists fiercely and does not resign to telling the secrets governing its birth. Above all, in this characteristic withdrawal, I see what could be the alibi of a restive behaviour toward prevailing models, a way of shirking the attractive strength current in art and elsewhere. Like the image of the excess gel pooling on the comb, Tiziana’s exhibition causes flows and flights of attention, freeing the on-lookers from a singular reading.
Tiziana la Melia
Yellow Mistral, 2016-2017
oil and aluminium powder an canvas, artiste frame (ink, wood)
140 x 180 cm