CARLOTTA BAILLY-BORG AT BALLON ROUGE
Curated by Evelyn Simons
Ballon Rouge is delighted to present an exhibition in two acts by Brussels-based French artist Carlotta Bailly-Borg. Trouble and Family Affair, respectively held at Ballon Rouge in Brussels and at Vitrine Gallery in Basel, both touch upon the recognisable, fraught relationships we embark upon with others, ourselves, and our environment.
With a body of work spanning drawing and painting on canvas, as well as on cloth, walls, glass panels and ceramics, the artist is consistently exploring new ways for her emblematic anthropomorphic creatures to inhabit a variety of contexts. Her visual imagery is informed by a myriad of trans-historic and trans-cultural references; her references range from medieval manuscripts and Hellenic myths to Japanese erotic representations and Hindu folklore. These sources of inspiration challenge the artist in a constant reconsideration of her universe, both in conceptual and in technical ways. However, the beings she brings to life remain recognisable, even if they delicately transgress time, space, and their own identities. Their bodies occupy spaces in ways that reflect all the conflicting feelings that accompany acts of desire. They hide in corners, take a leap, stretch languidly, and curiously approach and explore one another and their surroundings.
Trouble - opening in Brussels on January 12th - consists of an entirely new series of large-scale paintings. The figures are life-sized upon the canvas; Bailly-Borg fuses various colour schemes while revisiting photo-transferring techniques. The seemingly anachronistic mix of her spontaneously hand-drawn faces and dancing limbs, coupled with the direct transfers of flowers and leaves in various stages of decay, fosters an encounter between natural, moving forces. Her protagonists seem to become aware of themselves and the systems in which they operate. It’s as if they adhere to an abstract logic to which one cannot help but submit to, or as if, instead, they embody a reclamation of agency and control. The fusion with these floral motifs that seem to come from another dimension isn’t necessarily depicted as a peaceful symbiosis. Her figures have ingested these leaves and flowers - voluntarily, perhaps - and while they are disturbed by them, (made apparent in their frantic gesturing), they seem to have found a way to live on, inhabited by these parasitic entities.
In Basel, the artist departs from the existing series Family Affair, shown at NEVVEN Gallery in Sweden in early 2021. These are a series of vertical scroll works showing cords tied in knots, heavy and opaque, subtly encapsulating wandering human beings. The entire space of Vitrine in Basel, with its aquarium-like presence when perceived from the street, forms an extended environment in which these figures are together in their solitude.
In the dialogue between these two bodies of work, Carlotta Bailly-Borg poignantly channels concerns and observations on our instinctive behaviours and whatever it might be that our body language reveals. In fact, it’s precisely in the hesitant, at times suspicious or even violent approach towards others and our environment that Bailly-Borg recognises a potential for a common purpose that we tend to overlook.
About Ballon Rouge:
Ballon Rouge began as a nomadic gallery in September of 2017. In our first two years we put up exhibitions in Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Brussels, Sao Paulo, Paris, and New York. Each of the cities we visited was stewarded by a ‘collective member’ - a curator who introduced us to artists and to their respective city’s art scene. In March of 2019 we made Brussels our home city, inaugurating our permanent space. While we will
continue to do shows abroad alongside our collective members, our primary location is now Brussels. Besides our own exhibitions, the space in Brussels sometimes hosts invited international galleries to show with us in exchange for a show of ours at theirs - a further continuation of our ethos of collaboration and collectivity. VITRINE was hosted at Ballon Rouge, Brussels, November - December, 2021 where they exhibited Tarek Lakhrissi and Charlie Godet Thomas.
VITRINE is focused on artistic experimentation and emerging interdisciplinary practices. The gallery was founded in London in 2010, with a second space in Basel opened in 2016 and a third digital space launched in 2020. Over this decade, we have established a reputation as a selector and nurturer of new talent and our continued aim is to support artists’ careers and the growth of their ideas.
About the curator:
Evelyn Simons (Halle, 1989) lives and works in Brussels. Since 2019 she is a curator for Horst Arts & Music, an organisation blending the worlds of contemporary art and architecture with electronic music. Horst organises music festivals, exhibitions in public space and educational labs, and operates on a derelict military base Asiat in Vilvoorde (Brussels' periphery). She combines this position with other freelance activities such as running the residency programme for the private Minimal and Conceptual Art Foundation Fondation CAB in Brussels and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Evelyn is currently also preparing the launch of a new center for contemporary arts with a focus on the ecological discourse in the countryside South of Brussels called Ter Rijst, together with curator Isabel Van Bos. Simons won Curate Award from Fondazione Prada & Qatar Museums in 2014, which resulted in the exhibition Driftwood, or how we surfaced through currents (2017) Exarcheia, Athens, and the short film and expo The Never Never, with Jeremy Hutchison(2019, in progress and set to travel past various European institutions from 2022 onwards) In 2016 she was curator-in-residence at the Beirut Art Residency, and in 2021 at Villa Lena, Tuscany (IT). Evelyn has a Master's degree in Art Science from Ghent University, and a postgraduate degree in Curatorial Studies from KASK Ghent.