Juliette Bonneviot, Portrait de Jean-Baptiste Belley et Guillaume Raynal, 2012 
Courtesy of the artist

Berlin-based artist Juliette Bonneviot

April 17 2013
2:30 PM

Enlightenment, it’s been said, reverts to myth. Esoterica, seduction, exoticization: these words come to mind when looking at Juliette Bonneviot‘s sculptures and paintings. Alternating between tech-friendliness and deliberate amateurism, they playfully fixate on encounters with the cultural ‘outside’. Take the story of Koko, a gorilla who was once so affected by a blooming meadow that she picked up a brush and began to render it in acrylic on canvas. For her exhibition “Pink Pink Stink Nice Drink”, shown at Berlin’s CIRCUS gallery in 2011, Bonneviot hung appropriated paintings of historical artists’ works on modernist Struc-Tube displays – including a painting by Koko the gorilla herself (who gave the exhibition its title). Trained at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Berlin-based Bonneviot creates works that – with a kind of Flaubertian delicacy  – willfully inflate our capacity for exocitization or cultural voyeurism. Take Rush Hour Gate (2012), where the subtitles for a Jackie Chan film were translated into Chinese ideograms and drawn onto a flowing, scroll-like cloth, or her piece at the Wilkinson booth at the Frieze Art Fair in 2012: here, Bonneviot reproduced images of Anne-Louis Girodet’s 1798 portrait of Senegalese abolitionist and former slave Jean-Baptiste Belley (a.k.a. Mars) on a PVC banner, above a re-printed Enlightenment book plate, and weighed down fatalistically by an industrial brick. Currently showing at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, and Import Projects, Berlin, Bonneviot has an additional upcoming group show at Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. (Pablo Larios)