contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the month / May 2018

“Question de Liberté” (Question of Freedom)
Marie Cagnasso

Porcelain, barbed wire, tree trunk
Height: 100 cm

“Question de Liberté” (Question of Freedom) by Marie Cagnasso is a brain made of ceramics braided by barbed wire, presented on a tree trunk. The wire encloses the figure like a nest. Placed on its base, it seems to be a sheltered horst, somewhere aloft.

In that reading, the nest symbolises protection from outside. Oviparous animals, often place their eggs in nests, so that they can calmly incubate these fragile objects. Also in the first days after the hatching, the brood is kept warm, well fed and shielded from the outer world. In consequence, the nestlings have time to grow, until they can step out into their lives. Frequently, nests are built out of braided twigs. Hence, the association to a nest, even though in this case it is made of barbed wire.

However, the sheltering nest has its sharp thorns. The used materials are contrasting. There is the fine delicate porcelain and in opposition, the piercing wire. The ceramic could get scratches by the spikes. In addition, it is astonishing to find a brain in such an environment: this sensitive organ would be damaged. Moreover, some strings are led over the ceramic; it is trapped, without a possibility to escape. Even the stump as base might be seen as an isolation of the artwork.

Nevertheless, like in the perception of “Question of Freedom” protection and isolation are often close together. Barbed wire could be used to prevent cattle to run away, to hinder intruders to enter somewhere, to secure borders. In this sense, the shelter starts to be a tool of exclusion. Unwanted people are kept outside, a painful experience, currently made by millions of refugees. For Marie, the wire should be translated as rejection of the other, the stranger who frightens.

At the same time, the shielding provokes an isolation of the people inside the wire, like the brain is isolated on its trunk. The protection becomes a prison. Figuratively and regarding the wire enclosed brain, our thinking is concerned. Marie stated on her website “L’exclusion sous prétexte de sécurité entraîne une sclérose de toute pensée.” (Exclusion under the pretext of security leads to a freezing of every thinking.) A reduced exchange of ideas, prohibitions on thinking and/or the restriction of free development paralyses our capacity to freely form an individual opinion. A danger, to which we are exposed regarding terrorism and the resulting call for security.


Marie Cagnasso

Born 1965 in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, France, Marie lives again in Saint-Laurent-du-Var and works in her atelier in Vallauris, France.

After years in a profession alien to art, and three years living in London, she finally followed her vocation to be an artist.

From 2006 to 2007 she frequented the Ecole des Beaux-arts (School of Fine Arts) of Vallauris – Golfe-Juan and got the diploma “Arts du Feu” (arts of fire). Subsequently she was selected for the one year specialised class “Jeune Createur” (Young Creator) also in Vallauris. In 2009, Marie was chosen for the international contest for porcelain creation of Limoges, France (Concours international de création en porcelaine) to realise her submitted project in a residency in this traditional porcelain town. The resulting artwork was “Zeste de mer”, which was 2010 first presented in the “Galerie des Hospices” in Limoges. Another residency in Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary followed 2012.

In 2013, Marie was selected for the exhibitions “Jeune Plasticiens” (Young sculptors) in Saint Raphaël and the “Small Art Object” at A.I.R. Vallauris, where she was one of ten Select Award winners. For her participation at the “Terra Rossa”, Maison de la Céramique (House of Ceramics) in Salernes, France, the jury acknowledged her work in the section “Avant-garde/technicité” (Avant-garde/technicality). Also in 2013, she had her first solo exhibition in the “Galerie Bleue”, Vence. Furthermore, she participated in many group exhibitions at the Côte d’Azur, but as well in Paris and Budapest (Hungary). Her next contributions to group shows will be on view in May 2018 in Théoule-sur-Mer (L’Estérel inspire les artistes) and in June at the Picasso OFF in Vallauris.

Marie’s first great subject are the natural landscapes. Here she transforms her impressions of nature – often seen from a bird’s eye view – into ceramics. Since 2011, her researches and concerns guided her to the inner landscapes. The starting point is the brain. For her, it is a mysterious and fascinating organ, which governs all human beings. Therefore, it is responsible for our behaviours and our relations. Including brains in her artworks, she reflects about the complexity of our existence. Often it is a questioning about internal feelings and the role of the individual in society.

In ceramics, black and white is dominant in Marie’s work, for example in the natural landscapes. Nevertheless, for her creations of inner landscapes she regularly introduces other materials, like the barbed wire and the tree trunk in “Question of Freedom”, our artwork of the month / May 2018. Due to that, other colours are entering in the oeuvres, although her favourite ceramic shades are still present.