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Céline Cléron  
Soleil de plomb [Lead sun]

April 2 – May 12 2022

For her second solo exhibition at the Galerie Papillon, Céline Cléron crosses savoir-faire, humor, science and history. She brings together works whose physical weight is substantial even if they are based on fragility and fracture, in a tension between delicacy and strength, grace and gravity, temporary and permanent. 

Climax is a hybrid word combining "climate" and "maximum" and represents the climax of a story, just before something happens and the intensity drops. We sense it and, as in (1) Giorgione's The Tempest , this restraint takes hold. Because in the work by Céline Cléron, time is suspended: this pyramid of 385 balanced champagne glasses, like the ones seen at lavish events, evokes the roaring twenties between the two world wars, the desire for life, joy and carefree living. Indeed, the structure is still standing, but for how long? The artist summons the notion of fracture, echoing what we have been living through for the last two years, as each glass is cracked or chipped.

The remains of ceramics and glass dating from 1927 to 1930 were unearthed in the excavations carried out in Vénissieux. In the archives of this dig, the artist discovered uranium glass, a glass paste filled with uranium whose green-yellow color becomes fluorescent under an ultraviolet lamp. Despite Marie Curie's warnings, it appeared at the time to provide beneficial effects. Seduced by the ambivalence between the beauty and toxicity of the material, Céline Cléron uses it in the sculpture Ra, invoking both the Egyptian solar god and the symbol of radium. This half-sphere in black frosted glass, surrounded by a halo of pale uranium glass, was created in collaboration with a master glassmaker. The artist emphasizes that the sun itself is radioactive; for her, the piece itself is an eclipse, a fascinating phenomenon to which we cannot expose ourselves without special equipment, just as with radioactivity. Like the work Climax, the eclipse attracts by its brilliance and transience, unlike lead, which is a material that provides high protection from radiation but is confined to the domain of darkness and dejection. We give the name “black sun” to the star hidden by the moon and the lead sun refers to the threat of a heat wave as well as to devastation, the naked solitude after a disaster, but also to the recovered calm.

There are so many possible ways to interpret the photograph of a frozen lake where the artist, taken in by the wild and soothing landscape, felt the need to return to every day during a stay in Sweden. Especially enigmatic are the two chairs around a table, placed there and deserted. Are they waiting for visitors or are they definitely abandoned? This image, with its qualities of resounding silence, is linked to and in opposition to the video of a walk punctuated by the crunching of snow and ice on the same lake. Here, Céline Cléron follows a crack in the ice, all the way to the sky, moving forward despite the risk, even calculated, of the ice breaking.
The sculpture Az-zahr takes its name from the word "dice" in Arabic, the origin of the word "chance" [hasard] in French. Here, Napoleon era cobblestones in sandstone are transformed into dice. Both are objects which can both be thrown! In a game of dice or an eclipse, one relies on divination, like walking on a stretch of ice, we entrust our fate to adventure, good or bad.

Cannonballs adorned with a collar of swan feathers move like badminton shuttlecocks, without knowing whether the destructive ability of these projectiles is slowed down or accelerated?

Voie off, an elegant and amusing wooden ladder, takes its form from the railway switch. It evokes a junction, the alternative to laid out plans, more or less voluntarily - just as what we have experienced during the health crisis and lockdowns. Another ladder represents intersecting paths and a third with a broken side rail signifies a derailment. If we stick to their common usage, none of them are functional; or are they? All of them invite us to lift up our gaze, our bodies and our imagination, to take a detour, to hit the road, and all are Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part [Paths that lead nowhere] (2), The original title of this book by Heidegger, Holzwege, means "wood paths" and represents the paths in the forest used to transport cut wood. When followed in the opposite direction, they lead indeed to nowhere, if not to a new clearing. For Heidegger, there are paths of thought, the most fruitful ones, but often far from the obvious and in the sense of discovery, like the works of Céline Cléron. The lines of the ladders, the edges of the pyramid, the frozen crack, the trajectory of winged orbs and dice, each one retracing the journey, the ascent and the fall.
"A step, a stone, an unfolding path
What’s left of a root, it's a little lonely
It's a shard of glass, it’s life, it’s the sun
It's death, it’s sleep, it's a half-opened trap " (3).

Aurélie Barnier

Art critic, member of the AICA and independent curator. 

(1.) Giorgione, La Tempête, 1503-1510, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venise (Italie). 
(2.) Martin Heidegger, Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part, Paris : Gallimard, 1962 [1950].
(3.) From "Les eaux de mars", song by Georges Moustaki, 1973.

Céline Cléron (1976, Poitiers) lives and works in Paris. Graduated from Beaux-Arts of Poitiers (1998) and Angers (2000), Céline Cléron was a guest artist at the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres in 2007. She held her first major solo exhibitions at La Chapelle du Généteil in Château-Gontier in 2014 and at Le Parvis in Tarbes in 2015. In 2021, she had a solo show at the Centre d’art Madeleine Lambert in Vénissieux.
Nominated for the MAIF award for sculpture in 2011, she has also participated in numerous exhibitions in France and Europe, most notably at the Mudac (Lausanne, 2007), the Villa Empain-Fondation Boghossian (Brussels, 2012), the IAC (Villeurbanne, 2015), the Fondation Fernet-Branca (Saint-Louis, 2018) and the Kunstwerk Carlshütte (Budelsdorf, 2019). Céline Cléron presented her first solo show "L'Horizon des événements" in 2017. Her works are present in several French and foreign public and private collections: L. Dumas collection, Fondation d'art contemporain Daniel & Florence Guerlain, Mobilier National, Mudac, Sèvres-Cité de la Céramique, Fondation Villa Datris, Château du Rivau, among others.
She is currently participating in the group show "With Love" organized by the Museum Anna Nordlander at the Sara Kulturhus in Skelleftea, Sweden and is one of the 11 artists presented in the exhibition "Femmes guerrières, femmes en combat" at the Topographie de l'art. 


The artwork "Ra" was sponsored by the Drac Île-de-France.