“The man was called by the ancient microcosm […]. For just as it is a compound of earth, water, air, and fire, so is the body of the earth. If man has bones, support and reinforcement of the flesh, the world has the rocks as supports of the earth; if the man carries the lake of blood where the lung inflates and deflates in the breath, the body of the earth has its ocean, which grows and decreases every six hours in a cosmic breath; if the veins leave this lake of blood, branching into the human body, so the ocean fills the body of the earth with an infinity of veins of water. ” (Leonardo DeVinci)
In a series of photographs by Juul Kraijer: a snake wraps itself around a face like a shawl or a cap in a Holbein painting. The scale, which is similar to an organic cloth, becomes part of the body. In a drawing, the hair is home to a bush. In another scene, mosquitoes invade a body, but it remains motionless.
For the artist, it is a state of consciousness. The serene beauty of his models recalls the harmony of Greek sculptures. The delicacy of his line and the accuracy of the details evoke Renaissance drawings. As a counterpoint, butterflies nestled in the female epidermis summon a waking dream, which turns into an organic nightmare.
In another drawing: a branch of tree coming out of a mouth speaks of the cohabitation or rather of the dialogue with all living things. In this space of hybridization, the boundaries between the human, the animal, the insect or the plant are abolished.
His photographs on a black background, the exact arrangement of a flower, recall “The original forms of art” of the German photographer Karl Blossfeldt. Juul Kraijer insists “they are not portraits, but abstract faces that are almost transcendent”. Concentration and light are those of a meditation: a pause.
Juul Kraijer is fascinated by the flexibility of the body of the dancers and their state of mind. The body as a malleable material, a space of surpassing where all the metamorphoses are played. Here, the gravity of the human condition disappears. In the video “Prologue” the dancer, curled up is wrapped in a cloth such as a chrysalis. The arms come out in slow motion as they unfold in space. This performance evokes the different stages of growth. The whole work of Juul Kraijer invokes this morphogenesis: the development of an organism, the unfolding and folding of a form.
Most of its protagonists have eyes turned inward; this introspection is shared with the viewer. For Lise Pauton, contortionist and choreographer, also one of his models, this attitude is at the heart of dance to reach a metaconsciousness: a forgetting of oneself. The dancer upside down forms a wheel like a snake biting its tail, “ouroboros” says Juul Kraijer. This circle embodies both a present time and a suspended time.
This timelessness characterizes the work of Juul Kraijer. Her long stays in India, with her husband, an Indian artist, have opened a universe of intense contrasts, of a dazzling nature with its inherent dangers: the artist emphasizes that she is stunned by the beauty and the threat of the snake. ; this juxtaposition marks all his work.
However, she refuses to make a symbolic reading of it, she is closer to the real: her eye captures the analogy of the forms: the veins, the branches of trees and the folds of the bowels. In her photographs of dancers, the back with his spine so apparent, reveals the objectivity of her eyes. The muscular tissues of the body up to the spine are sculpted by light. This relief appears as a fossil. Like a botanist, she studies the architecture of life around her.
Juul Kraijer offers us a new approach of the human being as anchor of the structures of life. She highlights the dynamic principle of nature, inherent to each being. Her work combines the interiorization of the gaze with the exteriorization of the skin. The gaze opens towards the interior. The human skin, this limit, moults by becoming the soil that houses microorganisms of other forms of living, animal, or plant. An almost surrealistic drawing of a female face covered with butterflies, whose wings bear eyes, shows the permutation that Juul Kraijer makes towards this other view, that of nature.
Juul Kraijer raises one of the major issues of our civilization in crisis: rethinking the human body in interaction with species and our natural environment. The flesh of man is part of a universal vital flow.
Member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) is an independent curator. She teaches art history in Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Exhibition from March 13 to April 6, 2019
Gallery The Girls of Calvary
17, rue des Filles-du-Calvaire