October 27 – December 1, 2019
Midnight’s Soul (Anima)
“There are areas of existence covered by ghosts. Fantasies or spirits, they inhabit objects and places in the ebb and flow of life and death, forward and backward. Some artists like to attract us to these areas rocked by the incessant round of Eros and Thanatos. Listening to the sounds of the night, embracing the whisper of the desert, Tina Mion opens us to the infinite presence of what surrounds us – and crosses us.
As a ferrywoman for the Beyond, Tina leads us, not on the Styx, but in limbo, into the middle of the landscape of here and there, now and after. Like the spider cherished by Louise Bourgeois, she works to generate meaning in the apparent chaos of the world, through the gentle creation of links, between humor and fear. In her famous triptych of the banquet of the suicides in La Posada’s ballroom, she stages the dead as a link between this side-here and the other side, like the soft-eyed dogs usually located on the edge of Italian Renaissance paintings. By watching and entertaining the spectator, these pets link our presence here and now with the time spent painting several centuries ago: a time «not so far away, finally», we think. With Tina Mion’s paintings, it is rather a future time that speaks to us, a future time that concerns all of us, an entropic time where we know that Tina is already present in scout – a time beyond what we know and from which she gives us a sign, both to alert us and to protect us, in the dangerous but signposted zone of our fate. Because fate – knowing that tomorrow is written now – is finally reassuring.
In her recent series of “objects”, Tina uses another process to create links with the viewer. She puts on her canvas familiar objects, unusual or not, but all full of spirit. The artist creates connections that speak to the spectator at the level of this re-creation of the world that poetry literally is (from the ancient Greek word «Poiesis», which means «creation»). For the artist convenes the childhood, this time when the objects and places of everyday life are so familiar to us, intimate to the point of marking forever with their imprint our awakened lives as our sleeps.
In Mion’s luminous oil paintings, objects arise literally from daubs of color to give shape to allegories of mental states. When faces appear to be drawn, it is without any figuration, rather as simple allusions that work at first glance. The surf of life rolling like the sea, of life enveloping us like a mother, hauling cigarette butts, round candies, peels of lemons or even shells.
The bright colors of the current series — color on color, often without shade in the most recent works — set them out of time. And strangely, from these false portraits, the sensation flows that a moving soul addresses the viewer, speaking to him with humor and complicity.
And then, paradoxically, in Tina’s universe, when everything freezes, everything takes on more vitality. As in her portrait of Jackie Kennedy, where fear meets dignity, the bullet emphasizing the state of stupefaction, while the flashes of a playing card with the image of the late John F. Kennedy on it are dispersed without any movement and without any noise. We understand that the fate of the famous victim was already written before the time of his death. The existence of this playing card, at the very moment of the sublimated drama, is the proof of it. The image thus marks the passage from here to there, as in a magic trick. Death is the reverse of life and the artist’s image functions like an airlock that keeps and stretches the traces of the moment. The moment of stupefaction remains beyond death and time, and in this the painting of Mion joins the classical heritage.
But Mion’s engagement is also modern, moving away from the scenes of current events and portraits of famous or simply loved icons, to pull towards abstraction, and contemporary, in its role as a warning against entropy and the destruction by the human species of its own ecosystem.
From the isolation of deserts and her nocturnal wanderings, Tina Mion brings forth, in her most recent work, a world as joyful as melancholic: the «Mionland». The abandoned motels, the lonely characters, the still swings, the dead animals and the crusty swimming pools inhabit half a night (or half a day, whatever, the viewer to choose). The sky of these nights is a damp blue. A great silence reigns there. Characters, planes, caravans, birthday cakes are frozen, suspended in an intermediate state, an expectation.
And yet, from each of the scenes there is an impulse for life and a great intensity. I make the hypothesis that it is the vivacity of the very mobile Tina’s soul (anima), in the image of who she is in life: lively, mobile, passing from night to day, from one activity to another, sheltered from sight, with a fascinating ability to combine concentration and lightness.
With Tina Mion, tragedy is bathed in light. The palpitation of a dull life mixes with the texture of scenes inscribed in a realistic environment, but distant from any event, to marry an eternity of sensation. Human palpitation, very human. Very intimate and inner. We understand that in the foreboding of the disaster, Tina the sentinel stands in the shelter of the world, she points out the drama and hopes that her fellow human beings will be active in finding solutions. She stands where the whispering of the wind, the furtive movements of animals, the varied song of birds and the range of mute or strident modulations of insects bring the sense of security that is lacking in the megalopolis.
You must have made the experience of waiting for the Southwest Chief in the middle of the night on the empty platform of the hotel La Posada, in an atmosphere like the Edward Hopper, to understand the lucidity and the particular peace provided by the life on the border between places of comfort and entropy of the desert.
Christian Mayeur, Paris, August 2019.