« SOFARSOGOOD » Sylvie Fanchon, a two-part exhibition at Bétonsalon and Pauline Perplexe, Arcueil
05.04-07.13.24 at Bétonsalon, Paris. Curated by Emilie Renard.
04.05-05.26.24 at Pauline Perplexe, Arcueil. Curated by Sarah Holveck, Romain Grateau and Fiona Vilmer.

SOFARSOGOOD: The Drawing Cabinet

“But will this Pauline agree to it?” It was almost through a misunderstanding that the extension to Pauline Perplexe was decided, for the exhibition that Sylvie Fanchon was preparing with Émilie Renard at Bétonsalon, in December 2022.

Pauline Perplexe imposes its domestic format, with workshops and an exhibition space installed in a residential pavilion. A house made of millstone, amid an urbanism hesitating between a complete face-lift – towards a programmatic conception of the city – and what continues to be built in the meantime.

So it was almost by chance, then, that everything that “wouldn’t fit” at Bétonsalon would go to Pauline Perplexe. Including the pastel and pencil works on paper, Sylvie Fanchon’s last works. A series of drawings dedicated to the injunctions of the medical world, which the artist made seated at the table, when painting required too much energy. A dense, rough sketch where phrases of authoritarian optimism are agonizingly displayed. This series, endowed with drawings deriving from different periods, acts as a lining for the Parisian exhibition, transforming Pauline Perplexe into a pocket: the flipside, where previously unseen works are exhibited. The drawings represent all manner of proof of an unmitigated self, the implicit underside of a painting practice.

In her drawings, Sylvie Fanchon defines silhouettes of characters on the rebound, literally in different states. Toons with clipped or bleeding contours are slumbering, denouncing, or darting straight ahead without a backwards glance, emerging in various locations, in various versions of themselves. Mute characters with eloquent schnozes. Garish phrases in the margins, dictating a slick optimism. Hollow bubbles with variable moods, mossy, fulminating, taking the form of thoughts or characters to project oneself as. Continuous lines are traced to rest and lie flat, float or anchor oneself to the surface. Drawing a blank or possibly “blanks”, pictoriality that is not really designed for that. A casting that only exists as surfaces attached to reality: a flattened reality.

Sixth? Eighth? No elevator. Large-format canvases, standards that are barely met, to the centimetre, the interminable half-floors up to Sylvie Fanchon’s apartment-cum-studio. With windows on both sides of the building, a tiny television, the ghosts of former canvases on the wall opposite the windows. Because as sharp as a painter’s approach might be, it is still paint, it is still a white wall, circled with colours. A white kitchen, some tableware. A door, a bedroom? A rather old ink-jet printer. The remains of a former layout of apartments on the top floor, brought together. Multiplication of functions. One room: the bathroom, paintbrushes. A table, a folder, Canson, 50 x 65, grape format. The bathtub, view over the courtyard, scrambled with Meudon white. BONJOURQUEPUISJEFAIREPOURVOUS? Linear shelf, folders, A4, A3 folded, A5, drawings, printouts. A whole career in summary? Going as fast as possible, fossicking, selecting. Having Sylvie validate the selection, remotely, on photos. Orienting ourselves within a repertoire of forms. Neither too much nor too little. No double-ups, everything is more arid, nothing is obsessional but everything is there. There is no mystery because there is no riddle. Sylvie Fanchon works here, Sylvie Fanchon lives here. Nothing else to see than what you see. Drawings are drawings. Sylvie Fanchon tells us, young folks, to choose, to show them at our place. So far, so good.

Romain Grateau, Sarah Holveck, and Fiona Vilmer