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DOCUMENTS     About : Lost paradise, Martial Thomas

About : Lost paradise, Martial Thomas

April 17th 2002

Pain, dreams and a lost dimension

The language of “Lost Paradise” is that of flowers as enduring images of paradise and beauty through the presence of existing yet ever-changing shapes; the presence of a perfume, like a recollection from an unknown time.

“Lost Paradise”: as the world suddenly tilts, our sight tries to reconstruct the cumulative projection of superimposed worlds surrounded by forgotten flowers as well as those imaginary flowers yet to be discovered.
To gain access to the universe of Marie-Jo Lafontaine requires that we delve deep into ourselves so that we can truly experience the twinkling of an eye, tragedy or loss; to experience beauty as a souvenir that can be remembered and brought back to life.
The image is there, in plain view and it has a purpose. The flower is present, neatly arranged for the shot with the intent of creating a unique image of dreamlike beauty.
Paradise is perceived as a loss of which nothing remains but the renewed desire of memory: the memory that the world is a realm of give and take, by offering the world your own contribution you will be allowed the privilege of survival.

The quality of light in these pictures varies according to the emotional mood; the flowers become “subjects” of a painful intensity and the vision of this sought-after beauty.
The flower speaks for the emotion of an early morning encounter, the emotion of approaching another being and that of a world expressing the desire to dream and of love lost in the chaos of creation.
It is the language of loss, the pain of reality and the blinding effect caused by the connection between the photographs’ extensive surface and the depth of the monochromatic colors.
The superimposed colors evoke the many layers of personal memory and universal events that influence the physical and psychological energies of the artist, like a shadow shimmering on the surface of the monochrome and extending all the way across the image.
It’s a skeleton of the image, a sketch of light, the initial virtual blueprint subjected to the actual manipulation of the artist, like so many experiments made to access the creation of a newly formed universe.

“Lost Paradise” expresses even more: that “more” being our attachment to the many centuries humankind has lived through, the “more” that can confirm a date but abandons all notion of the universe as we know it, in order to head towards another way of life. The monochrome flowerscapes are the golden light of knowledge that illuminates the secrets buried deep in the artist’s obscured headaches.
A reminder of beauty that sometimes disappears into a dim light, a protective gesture and a call upon others to join in the hopeful journey towards a place of eternal escape.

This is a conclusive piece of work we are talking about, for the sequel will never be comparable to this world expressed through the language of flowers, that are obliterated somewhere between their instant beauty and the artificiality of the colors. They open the door to the soul of this woman whose beauty glows in pain and who disappears in a mist of tears.
A deep red canvas, another emitting a phosphorescent green light, they are nothing but the fierce extent of the possibilities of anger and of the loneliness experienced by her perception of the art world, one which she has so uniquely made her own.

“Lost Paradise” prophesized the tipping of the global scales, even before the events of September 11, and this tilting of the world’s axis had already been predicted in “We are all shadows” (1996) entrenching that anticipated and gripping fear.

Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s only attempt is to visualize for us her concealed impressions and experiences resulting from global political movements.
Miraculously, she still has the conscious energy to speak out through imagery and for the transformed survival before disaster strikes upon all of us.
These contemplative and silent flowers are the last gesture before rage or laughter set in.
They are also silence and meditation; they are lights of intensity for the meeting of love in a distant yet immediate future where the amorous gesture is at its most beautiful. Their existence in the photographs mounted on museum walls or in video installations, which in their words and images guard us against forgetfulness. They are those of Andy Warhol’s Journal, who knew how to intertwine the forbidden with the manifestation of truth.

If “Lost Paradise” is a secret, how then could I possibly unveil it?
Just by attempting to approach the work, by trying to grasp the essence and the emotions of it, to listen and hear the almost inaudible words.

“Lost Paradise” reflects the unknown in the artist, that secret: the mystery of a public woman who will never be able to reveal the enormity of her pain, nor the belief she has in the world she walks in. Her images are her legacy; her images are authentic work thrust to the threshold of determination in order to obtain the swiftest of pleasures as a reward for the loss, the barrenness of beauty and the built-up frustration of creating in a determined, analytic, manipulative, orderly and fixated way, only to be forgotten so that other concerns can be addressed.

These works mirror the night that lights up when the body is wrapped in sheets, the body doubled up in a vague attempt to protect itself when facing the dream that protects against death. Death, always anticipated but forced back by the work of art.
These flowers are the comforting warmth that protects us and gives life meaning. These flowers are crystal pearls in the depth of the opaque night even if they illuminate only the most somber desires.

Marie-Jo Lafontaine would never speak in this way of her flowers because what she creates is a rupture, an angle between herself and the outside world: pain and tragedy are not meant to be transmitted “live”.
She might ask you to join her on her path, verify your presence and appreciate your concern.
The path of the flowers in “Lost Paradise” is the final one in the language of the heart.
The monochrome colors of these images, covering the entire spectrum of light, will never again make it to the present because the certainty of a new-found paradise is lost.

I hope that Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s vision will continue to elucidate reality by taking in its wake her friends and the world, whose events she has always been able to prefigure.
The artist, according to Marcel Duchamp, is a medium. Marie-Jo Lafontaine has always confirmed this quote through her many works. She herself isn’t that pretentious, in her video projects and photographs she merely attempts to express her approach to survival and her awareness of being part of the history of art, that started long before her and of which she acknowledges her “forefathers”.

The “mystery” will no doubt further be explored in subsequent works, but one thing is certain and that is that “Lost Paradise” is the conclusion of a journey through a succession of works that leave beauty itself and the viewer with a tear of wholeness for the world and the private self.

If I were asked to add something to this viewpoint, I would say that Marie-Jo Lafontaine is true to herself, she is always armed with the willpower to survive through the means of art, which is her chosen path. She chooses to circumnavigate the events of her life, with an existential urgency, in this tumultuous world, as well as in her projects.

“Lost Paradise” really is the silence of the heart, hers beats without a sound in the obscurity of cities and world news, where tragic events take place and where the miracle of renewal in the world occurs.

This is where I temporarily wrap up my affirmed thoughts about these images of flowers that are dedicated to you.

The flowers in “Lost Paradise” are also Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s silent and personal homage to Robert Mapplethorpe. An homage to the brutality, the explosiveness and also the pornography of the ferocious and unique beauty of his work.
The cut-up levee of her flower images, the synthetic emotion that possesses the fascinating sex of the shadow, the weapon of furious desire. To live life in all its turbulent movement, the limit of danger and conscience.
This sense of complicity and a feeling of belonging.

With this view the fate of the image of Lost Paradise is brought full circle and therefore it becomes complete.

Martial Thomas