The intriguing paintings of Lise Stoufflet
Both unsettling and tempting, playful and malevolent, the situations and experiences imagined by Lise Stoufflet oscillate between familiar places, childhood stories and guiltless memories and, on the opposite side, a dark and uncanny dream state that not only absorbs the human presence, thoughts and desolate spaces in her paintings, but at the same time bewilders the viewer. The closer one gets to untangle the riddles of the paintings the more obvious the trap becomes. The Paris-based artist subtly involves her unsuspecting audience in a strange game without sharing its rules, thus bringing to surface our fear of the unknown and our contradictory feelings towards what we do not understand.
Her fascination with the unconscious is evident in the work. As our reverie goes beyond what is intelligible and tangible, her paintings extend outside the limits of the canvas and of the ordinary – ribbons connect two adult female figures in a representation that seems ludic and also sensual, black birds (or perhaps their threatening shadows) surround a sinking castle as if prepared to overthrow its king, and festive decorations celebrate birth over an empty crib with long hair heads morbidly floating above it. The notion of time is misleading – green leaves fall on the abandoned playground, falsely reminding of autumn yet highlighting the odd absence of children playing – or is simply suspended as in the work Lying – indoor, behind the curtains, a sort of ritual emerges, making when an invalid question. It is a matter of anticipating the other’s next move from multiple possibilities, and Lise Stoufflet gives this challenge to the observer, who is at this point subject, a participant in the game as he/she adds meaning to the work.
It is not only the story that mesmerizes the viewer, its plausibility, eeriness or macabre. The realistic depictions, the pastel tones blurring the boundaries between our world and the artist’s imagery, the intended insertions of materials and the extension of elements on the wall, all contribute to creating an alternate existence in which cruelty and innocence are no longer incompatible.
PARALLELE, 2016, 2 x (120 x 100 cm), oil painting on canvas
BERCÉ, 2016, 150 x 150 cm, oil painting on canvas
BIRD’S CASTEL II, 2016, 145 x 114 cm, oil painting on canvas / painted wood panel
PASSAGÉS, 2016, 160 x 180 cm, oil painting on canvas
LA CACHETTE, 2016, 130 x 195 cm, oil painting on canvas
LYING, 2016, 170 x 140 cm, oil and acrylic painting on canvas
Images © Lise Stoufflet