Stéphanie Cherpin - Gouge away


If the heart of a city is devoted to a cultural and political life, the outskirts are a mass of building sites, industrial zones and hypermarkets. In contrast to the noble edifices of our city centers, the surrounding industrial and activity zones are a chaotic architectural mixture of purely functional and transient constructions. Yet the monumental profusion, the characteristic brutality of these zones, provokes a certain fascination.

This is what Stephanie Cherpin's sculptural works strive to explore and honor, in recognizing something familiar and legitimate in their existence, and distinct purpose. This recognition is the starting point of her sculptural journey. To explore and comb the outskirts of these territories. To consider their oversized dimension as an enormous "atelier". To be overwhelmed by the flux of image and emotion. To hunt down ?spare parts? in D.I.Y stores, with the purpose of acquiring an assortment of disengaged objects, to confront, combine and intensify them and create new aesthetic structures.

Stephanie Cherpin's hybridizations produce an alteration, a transfer of quality between material and form. The metamorphosis of a bathtub into an ironing board or the simple gesture of isolating car wash brushes into the majestic composition "Hairspray queen", appear suddenly evident. The application of paint and other substances aide and abet this "cross dressing", but in a deliberately unnerving and overtly vulgar fashion, like the quick "over-spray" of a stolen car, putting more emphasis on effect than beauty. Looking at these sculptures, one can neither limit them in a given space or time. The sense of "unfinished", a notion that transcends the history of sculpture, is unashamedly celebrated. Stephanie Cherpin consolidates nothing, instead she makes exquisite propositions with multiple escape routes.

Her sculptures create tension, show their teeth, they deliberately obstruct the passage and trip us up, take over a space like weeds that one can never quite eradicate, they spill over and provoke, and in this sense evoke a multitude of parallels with "grunge culture". In their refusal of "accomplishment", or to be confined within established rules, and stripped of any unnecessary sophistication, these works come into their own and earn their necessity to exist. Stephanie Cherpin?s work could be likened to a quote from Henry Millers "Hamlet" which describes grass: "If it produces no flowers, nor aircraft-carriers, nor sermons on mountain tops, in the end it will always have the last word."

Paul Bernard