By Emilie Bouvard

Karem Arrieta, Venezuela, 1964, lives and works in Paris.
Mélancolie furieuse, four piece series, oil on fabric.

Karem Arrieta produces children portraits based on ancient photographs and postcards. These are often portrayals made after old pictures, of unknown childs, dead or disappeared, showing a large range of childhood faces. The works presented here are inspired by overviewed Lewis Carroll children photographs, combined with figures from other images, ancient or historical paintings, which more likely tend to gaze into the spectators’ eyes, questioning, challenging -sometimes aggressively. A pictural collage unified by a muffled/brownish color palette, a homogeneous figure treatment based on a contrasted use of meplat, and grey, somber tones. Here the clothing, treated as the cloak envelope of bourgeois bodies, restrict children, and act as the same social cutaways from the 16th century to Lewis Carroll’s little girls. In those canvases, childhood seems to only belong to a faraway time, not embellished at all, a sort of infernal and fantastic world standing unusually close to death.

Emilie Bouvard