Mimosa Echard

iDEATH

silver
Mimosa Echard

A/B, detail

Mimosa Echard

A/B, detail

Mimosa Echard

A/B, detail

Mimosa Echard

A/B

Lichen, kombucha, phallus indusiatus mushroom, ginseng, clitoria, chamomile, bramble, rose wood, milfoil, helichrysum italicum, egg shell, ginko, maple key, Coca Cola light, flat glass marble, wrapping, fake nail, Leeloo Gé birth-control pill, echinacea pills, brewer's yeast, Boots and Schaebens food supplement for skin, fertility, lactation, tranquility, depilatory wax, epoxy resin
Mimosa Echard

A/B

Seaweed, lichen, kombucha, butterfly, helichrysum italicum, ginseng, flat glass marble, zombie mask, fake nail, Leeloo Gé birth-control pill, echinacea pill, clitoria, satureja, chamomile, bramble, rose wood, milfoil, heather, egg shell, fly, dragonfly, Coca Cola Light, car body fragments, brewer's yeast, Boots and Schaebens food supplement for skin, fertility, lactation, tranquility, depilatory wax, epoxy resin
Mimosa Echard

A/B

Seaweed, lichen, kombucha, phallus indusiatus mushroom, ginseng, clitoria, vervain, satureja, St John's wort, chamomile, bramble, rose wood, rose petals, borage, cicada, milfoil, helichrysum italicum, heather, egg shell, butterfly, bee, eucommia, Coca Cola light, flat glass marble, wrapping, fake nail, car body fragment, Leeloo Gé birth-control pill, echinacea pills, brewer's yeast, Boots and Schaebens food supplement for skin, fertility, lactation, tranquility, depilatory wax, epoxy resin
Mimosa Echard

A/B

Seaweed, lichen, kombucha, phallus indusiatus mushroom, ginseng, clitoria, vervain, satureja, St John's wort, chamomile, bramble, rose petals, milfoil, helichrysum italicum, heather, egg shell, fly, butterfly, bee, ginko, magnolia, Coca Cola light, flat glass marble, wrapping, fake nail, car body fragment, Leeloo Gé birth-control pill, echinacea pill, brewer's yeast, Boots and Schaebens food supplement for skin, fertility, lactation, tranquility, depilatory wax, epoxy resin
Mimosa Echard

iDEATH

Solo show at Samy Abraham, March–April 2016


“There is a delicate balance in iDEATH. It suits us.” Richard Brautigan


Long before Picasso’s Still Life with Chair Caning, the 17th century Dutch painter Otto Marseus van Schrieck was making still lifes that were considerably more alive than still. He is known for his luxuriant and detailed compositions portraying insects, serpents, amphibia, mushrooms and wild plants. Marseus van Schrieck collected and kept small animals in terrariums, allowing for lengthy periods of observation; it was this practice that earned him the somewhat derisive nickname of “The Sniffer”. He delighted in the pleasures of trompe l’oeil and in a pioneering act of appropriation even pasted real butter ies onto some of his works.

For iDEATH, Mimosa Echard has appropriated dead and living matter, following a mannerist formula which plays on both an illusion of the living and a skilful dosage of poisons and their remedies
(she explains that epoxy resin tends to wake lichens up from their hibernation period). Just as with mannerist art, our vision of the works evolves as we near their proliferant surfaces.

At first, one enters the exhibition to see a visually coherent corpus whose interplay of colours and shapes radiates a calm picturality. The novel In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan comes to mind; it is from here that the exhibition title, iDEATH, originates. The story relates the trippy life of an imaginary commune who build most of their environment and objects from watermelon sugar. Here too, Echard seems to have employed unvarying materials to produce the entirety of the works.

An overarching gaze allows one to apprehend each work in its totality. Their composition exudes softness and balance. It is delicate. Upon the very gentle and pale pink background small, shiny shapes are scattered alongside large, dark orange circular stains and green drips. The works emanate a visual and chromatic harmony. All gestuality is controlled.

A third way of viewing the exhibition would be to get as close to the works as possible so as to observe the components one by one and - as if reading a text - follow the twists and turns of an imaginary line running from one element to the next. This study could be extended ad infinitum as each individual item within the overall composition is identified: mushrooms, marbles, pills, packaging, insects, dried plants, coloured wax. Our rst impression fades to allow the works’ fundamentally composite nature to surface: we are not dealing with paintings but with sculptures, assemblages or even micro-assemblages. Indeed the title A/B is owed to this sculptural dimension. The perfectly smooth, visible side encased in Plexiglas has a reverse; a B-side swarming with little elements trapped in resin like creatures frozen in ice. The surprise that occurs when observing the pieces at close range is similar to the experience had when looking at works by Michel Blazy, with whom Echard shares a studio in Ile-Saint-Denis. What at first glance appears to be traditional ne art supplies is revealed as a peculiar mix of all things organic and synthetic.

The last way to contemplate this series would be to consider the list of the elements as a work in its own right, like a strange conceptual poem: algae, lichen, kombucha, phallus indusiatus mushroom, ginseng, clitoria, verbena, summer savory, St John’s wort, camomile, brambles, achillea, helichrysum, heather, egg shells, ies, dried bees and butter ies, Diet Coke, marbles, wrapping, false nails, car body debris, Leeloo Gé contraceptive pills, Echinacea pills, brewer’s yeast, dietary supplements for skin, fertility, lactation or tranquillity from Boots and Schaebens, hair removal wax, epoxy resin.

If one happens to possess the rudiments of botanical and medical knowledge (in my case to compile this list arduous research was required on herbal medicine websites whose content was totally unfamiliar to me until now), it is possible to notice that the works contain myriad active elements whose purposes are opposed: sedatives and stimulants, fertility increasers and contraceptives, living things and dead things, phallus mushrooms and clitora flowers, hair removal wax and dietary supplements to promote hair growth, intact fake nails and chewed up real ones, yeast to offset the harmful side effects of car body debris ingestion, Echinacea to ght off colds and the packaging whose fabrication pollutes our atmosphere with irritants.

Each plant is collected in the artist’s native village in the Cévennes mountain range for its pharmacological properties as well as for its visual appearance. Despite this underlying botanical knowledge, the act of collecting and composing is not solely linked to a fascination for appropriated matter (and a possibility of being infected by it). Staged here are the effects which are actually also characteristic of all works of art: the products whose ultra-contradictory side effects are impossible to control, simultaneously provoking ecstasy, anxiety, annoyance, feverishness, irritation, rejection, love or desire. There is no aspiration to wellness here and no possible therapy. Only the tumultuous experience of sensations, emotions and contradictory thoughts persists. While we await the commercialisation of stimulant sleeping pills, excitatory tranquilizers, fertility-multiplying contraceptive pills and hair removal wax boosting regrowth we can take time to think about the perfectly opposed ideas of composition or formal gesture on the one hand and conceptual practice on the other.

It is keeping this in mind that we can better understand the exhibition title. In Brautigan’s novel the commune organises itself around a place named iDEATH. Had the book not been written in 1968, one would immediately take this as a parody of a new Apple product. Instead, as it is so often the case in Brautigan’s writings, we are invited to contemplate the way in which humans, animals, artworks and technological objects could possibly live together. In his renowned poem All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, the writer imagines a “cybernetic meadow” where all species coexist. Mimosa Echard offers up the surface of her works as a communitarian model, a delicate balance with death ever visible on the horizon. “There is a delicate balance in iDEATH. It suits us.”

Jill Gasparina
Photographs: Aurelien Mole