Critics’ Picks

Madeleine Roger-Lacan, Une Maman, 2020, oil and pastel on canvas and oilcloth, 63 × 47 1/5".

Madeleine Roger-Lacan, Une Maman, 2020, oil and pastel on canvas and oilcloth, 63 × 47 1/5".


Léo Chesneau and Madeleine Roger-Lacan

galerie frank elbaz | Paris
66 rue de Turenne
July 9–August 29, 2020

When Milton Bradley Company launched Twister in 1966, some competitors called it “sex in a box.” Intended for two players or more, the game turns human bodies into play pieces, torqueing them on a plastic mat the size of an Ab-Ex canvas. If this exhibition is a game board, as its title—“Twister”—suggests, paintings by two “players,” Madeleine Roger-Lacan and Léo Chesneau, both recent graduates of Paris’s École des Beaux Arts, are acrobatically entangled.

Chesneau’s seven paintings (all Untitled, 2020), built in layers of heated toner ink on wood, supply a linear rhythm. Rich, saturated colors, taking turns in hot and cold, reflect the artist’s mechanical process of “cutting and wedging.” The dimensions of his works follow those of standard paper products, letter-size envelopes, and street posters. Volition cedes to a mechanically produced matrix, and the artist’s body—male—lithely slips away.  

Roger-Lacan, meanwhile, a self-proclaimed “peintresse,” dives into autobiography for her five large-scale figurative paintings. Une Maman, 2020, for example, takes as its subject her lover’s dead mother, portrayed as a monumental, bandaged face wallpapered with cacti, horseshoes, and other kitsch motifs of the Wild West and whose blue eyes turn toward an academic rendition of a male nude seen from behind. Here, the artist seems to project herself simultaneously into the future and past, casting the body as son and lover at once. Meanwhile, Roger-Lacan’s female forms, the painter’s own or an imagined mother’s, press into the foreground of almost every work, and seem not quite incompatible, but entwined, at play.