Critique

In Sophie Séjournéʼs painting, her colors dance on the canvas and enter a world where abstraction reigns. She creates a modern orchestration in which a visual music begins with pieces as varied as the colors of the rainbow. At times in her work the forms may take on human shapes as dancing nuances flitting in the light and joyously emerging from the paintings.

Christian Germak, Art Critic
Editor of International Arts Gazette

Luscious Bifurcations, the Paintings of Sophie Sejourne

Sophie Sejourne’s work is concerned with the reinvigoration of modernist collage practice.  However, unlike so many glimmering young acolytes to Duchamp, she is neither concerned with the ready-made nor with post-modern pastiche.  What Sejourne posits in her work (and what is so unconventional these days) is the re-positioning of collage as an earnest practice, full of passion, concerning its ability as both generator and carrier of meaning.

Sejourne uses collage to mitigate her painting – not only to generate it.  One can draw a bizarre parallel to post-minimalist sculptors who, rather than allowing for a ready-made object to dictate their practice, searched for meaningful or critically engaging aesthetic circumstances in the world-at-large, which they would use to dictate the work they made.  In other words, in Sejourne’s work, the collage elements function in a similar way to the architecture in a work by Daniel Burren or an early Michael Asher.  Of course, the work does not allow room for the specific politics of those artists; it is too engaged (thank heavens!) in its own poetics.

One is immediately seduced by the narrative, situated within the postcards and of course puzzled by the presence of narrative in the work of a painter whose achievements seem so materialist, so dedicated to the lexicon and practice of Art Informel, and American post-war abstraction.  It is logical to be somewhat puzzled by the narrative, as it is this specific gesture which makes Sejourne’s recent work so compelling and rightfully complex.  The postcards are never purchased by Sejourne; rather, she receives them from friends, family and colleagues the world over.  Rather than creating work which is nostalgic or “about” family ties in the worst way, Sejourne uses the postcards to create a wandering narrative which is itself poetically reflective of her own experience and of her own practice.  This anterior meta-narrative is as important to the work as the paint itself.  The narrative is sensually tucked away in paint – protected beneath color which is both awkward and masterful.  We see the elegance of a modernist painting juxtaposed (with total clarity and self-awareness) with casual hamfistedness ….. here recalling Guston or Rouault …..  But radically altered to suit the needs of more modestly scaled (but no less ambitious) paintings.

We approach this painter — who waxes self-consciously shamanistic — through the analytical or conceptual framework of her collage (which is embedded in each of the paintings) and realize that this is no dowdy, nth generation abstract expressionist, but rather, an intelligent, insightful artist dressed inside and out as a painter who is using the past history of her craft and practice to forge forward radically!

Alexander Kroll
Venice, California
January, 2007