arguerite oirel

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by Véronique LACROIX

“Art is madness and – like everything else – is not lacking in meaning”
Jean Tinguely.

Marguerite Noirel’s adventurous art begins in her daily routine, visiting her local scrap metal dealer and hunting out various objects such as farming implements, industrial machinery, electronic equipment, and household utensils. She harvests such discarded materials and turns them into new ideas as a means of speaking out against the consumerism of the West, whose frantic dash for progress is institutionalising a throwaway society. However useful an object may be, it is soon replaced by more recent, more competitive versions, and thus proves perishable. Marguerite Noirel fights the inevitability of obsolescence by bringing discarded objects back into the field of art, as reflected in the title of the series Post-Mortem Lives. Detritus from many sources is digested by the whole, their disappearance writing an existentialist satire underlining the absurdity of consumerism.

The inert material comes back to life in Marguerite Noirel’s hands, becoming aesthetically pleasing yet cruel objets d’art – family portraits and Pandora’s boxes that give a sarcastic account of the human condition. The hybrid figures, blending Jean Tinguely’s wit and Julio Gonzáles’s spatial dynamics, are exposed in psychological portraits that strive to break free from their whimsical or geometrical frames, based on the pictorial or photographic tradition of portraitists; their preening aesthetic does not appeal to Marguerite Noirel, who prefers three-dimensional caricatures. And so, ironically, the scrap metal becomes the mirror for the depths of human nature. This paradox suggests that human nature is perhaps more superficial than we like to think, and that Man remains, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, a pure “optical illusion”* . Marguerite Noirel sets out to lay humanity bare, getting close to the intrinsic truth of these fleshless figures, their harsh angles echoing their meanness of spirit, and exploring the ills afflicting humanity – vice, old age, death – in the Pandora series. Hope is held prisoner in the reliquary, peeping through now in the form of a bone, a rock with eyes, or a mouth, hinting that each being carries within himself the better world to which he aspires, and that in the end, we are all responsible for our own destinies. The metal of the Post-Mortem Lives fossilises the timeless beauty of these useful objects that we see without ever really looking at them. The eyes that are omnipresent in Marguerite Noirel’s work represent the gaze of those who do not wish to see “so as not to die of the truth”** .

The works are an amalgam of metal objects, together with a handful of polymers or natural materials, their accumulation “putting an end to the impression of chance”, in the words of Sigmund Freud. Marguerite Noirel imposes order on chaos in her Protean sculptures, whose strict sense of composition obeys the internal structure of the objects and contributes to the work’s formal coherence. The hollows shaped by the solid parts incorporate the surrounding space into the airy, open works; their lightness challenges the cold, stubborn iron, which eventually folds and submits to the supple, dynamic shapes. The wear and tear of the materials, their colours, and visible traces of rust are all highlighted by the artist, who varnishes, twists, and breaks the material as a way of recording a snapshot of the damage done by the passage of time in her sculptures, or even of anticipating the damage to come. Marguerite Noirel skilfully assembles the battered pieces, grinding the welded joins to perfect unity, creating an imperceptible witness to the artefact’s origins.

Marguerite Noirel’s scrap metal sculptures – a well-executed blend of ingenuity and wit, density and lightness, the ordinary and the extraordinary – transcend everyday life, creating a remarkable body of work in which iron and magnets give an affectionate account of human foibles.

Véronique Lacroix  

*Jean-Paul Sartre, tr. S. and G. Leeson. The Devil and the Good Lord and two other plays (New York : Knopf, 1960), p. 132.

** F. W. Nietzsche, tr. J. O’Brien. The Will to Power, sec. 822, 1888




This page belongs to the Marguerite Noirel's website. This french artist realise contemporary art sculpturs. She works in Paris and in Puy-de-Dôme (Auvergne).