Inner Life, Shaping Worlds

18 February - 8 April 2023
Shanghai, China
DUMONTEIL Shanghai is pleased to open its new year with Inner Life, Shaping Worlds, the solo exhibition of the French artist Tamaris BORRELLY. This is the first solo exhibition in China by this emerging European artist, a graduate of the Beaux-Arts de Paris. The exhibition features 20 latest watercolor creations by the artist, including several large-format works, showcasing how the artist transcends all forms of life and weaves them into an other-worldly dreamscape.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

William Blake

These lines, the first of William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence", soon come to mind as one delves into the myriad of creatures that populate the carefully collected sheets implemented by Tamaris Borrelly. For paper, her chosen formats never appear monumental – not overpowering, nor overhanging. Still, they are vast, we immerse ourselves in them to the point of loss, with delight.

She invests them as a miniaturist: with details and patterns galore, a mixture of precision and stylization, of repetition and variety; with game reserves forming breaths in a tight fabric, while remaining complete with movements and transparencies.

Energy is circulating, as if the figures are interlinked through lines and leaps; by kinship, contiguity, covering, even propagation or porosity. Fluidity dominates and the gaze passes, continuously, from one place to another (in the space of the sheet which extends as it fills with a multitude of furrows), from one plane to another (in the infinitesimal thickness of the paper; as it becomes impregnated, sometimes stretches, sometimes undulates or wrinkles), from one luminosity to another (from day to night, in its own temporality).

A few square centimeters blossom into a “Forest” of early days, just as many of Henri Matisse's paintings are imprinted with a centripetal force which, as Leo Steinberg analyzes about “Le bonheur de vivre”, makes them, in memory, always fuller than they are.

This is perhaps how one achieves this feeling of immemorial fullness, typical of evocations of the Golden Age or the Garden of Eden. The figures each contribute to this in their own singular way: within them the human and the animal coexist; with no hierarchy or that they result from the agglomeration of a variety of motifs; whether they appear in the form of silhouettes, traced directly on the vegetation or can be seen in the landscape thanks to analogies (a mountain that is also a head in “Volcano”).

Nothing here seems fixed in place and circulation is in order, as in animist cults, like “Au Temps d’harmonie” painted by Paul Signac, before the separations and borders between beings, kingdoms and cultures, beyond sharing between reality and dreams also. This is because everything mixes or fits in these vast and colorful expanses, intensely populated by elements that are just as much ornamental as symbolic: the rife vegetation evokes the Paradise of “Hortus conclusus (enclosed gardens)” where the Virgin was represented during the Middle Ages; in addition to the wallpapers of Arts & Crafts and the manner in which space is woven, it reminds us of the Millefleurs style in tapestries, their plant seddlings and their animals, real or fantastic.

At the root of such spaces; there is an imagination nourished by everything, which like color or light, has no dimensions therefore no limits, where boundless possibilites arise, as if holding the world in a page, to reform it far from menacing dangers, by exhibiting nothing less than an image of infinity.

Text by Guitemie Maldonado, Art Historian