Valérie Belin. Silent Visions

24 April-28 October 2024. MusBA, Gallery and Museum

In response to the invitation by the Museum of Fine Arts of Bordeaux (MusBA), which regularly invites contemporary artists to give a personal perspective on its collections, Valérie Belin proposes Silent Visions, a major solo exhibition organised in partnership with Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels).
Valérie Belin (born in 1964) is considered as one of the greatest artists of her generation and one of the few representatives of plastic photography. The exhibition dedicated to her work follows on from other exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts dedicated to women artists, from contemporary artist Suzanne Lafont in 2018 to Rosa Bonheur in 2022.

The exhibition includes approximately 100 works from the artist’s career, from the late 1990s to more recent series, one of which shown to the public. Spread over the two sites of the Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition highlights the pictorial dimension of her work.
In addition to the works presented in the Gallery, which come from Valérie Belin’s most emblematic series (Robes, Modèles II, Michael Jackson, Black Women, Mariées marocaines, Têtes couronnées, Still Life, Bouquets, Corbeilles de fruits, Intérieurs, Bodybuilders, etc.), the exhibition also includes more recent works (Painted Ladies, Reflection, Modern Royals, All Star and Heroes) and the Museum of Fine Arts is particularly pleased to be able to present five works from her new series, Lady Stardust (2023).
The many artist’s many references to the history of art, through still life, portrait, nudes and body worship, creates a new and stimulating dialogue with the Bordeaux collections. In the two wings of the museum, eleven photographs are displayed alongside the collections of paintings. For example, Velvet Centaurea (Black-Eyed Susan series) features next to Ophélie by Jules-Elie Delaunay, in which the figure is also adorned with daisies.

Valérie Belin, Electra, serie Super Models, 2015 © ADAGP Paris 2024, Courtesy artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels)

Through her images saturated with visual signs, as is the case of her most recent works, Valérie Belin plays with the codes of representation and blurs the boundaries between reality and the imaginary. In doing so, she retraces the technological and ontological changes in photography, from analogue to digital, while following in the footsteps of the avant-gardes of the interwar period by adopting techniques such as overprinting and solarisation. Her use of colour, from 2006 onwards, bestows a more pictorial dimension and sometimes a boldly "collage-like” aspect on her works.

So, Valérie Belin blurs the lines between the real and the virtual, nature and artifice, inanimate objects and living beings, presence and absence, hyperrealism and metaphor. The artist likes to say that she does not produce “photographs of objects”, but “portraits of objects”, in which she sees a “metaphor of the body traversed by light”. The Bodybuilders with their bulging, oiled bodies find an echo in the metal carcasses of the wrecked Cars, while the storefront Mannequins often seem more human than their flesh-and-blood counterparts. 

Valérie Belin studied at the French National Art School (ENSA) in Bourges and Sorbonne (philosophy of art). She was first interested in American minimalism and Italian Baroque art and soon adopted photography as an artistic medium, which later became the true subject of her work and contributed to her international reputation.
Valérie Belin’s works are conserved in major French and international public collections (MNAM, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MAC/VAL, BnF, Fondation Cartier, LACMA, MoMA, V&A in London, etc.). Since 2013, she has been represented by Galerie Nathalie Obadia, which supports such artists established on the international scene as Carole Benzaken, Shirley Jaffe, Laure Prouvost, Jessica Stockholder, Mickalene Thomas, Agnès Varda, Martin Barré, Fabrice Hyber, Benoît Maire and Andres Serrano…

Curators: Valérie Belin and Sophie Barthélémy, Director of MusBA.


Valérie Belin, Electra, serie Super Models, 2015 © ADAGP Paris 2024, Courtesy artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels)

Valérie Belin, Electra, serie Super Models, 2015 © ADAGP Paris 2024, Courtesy artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels)