Review /

Vidya Gastaldon Art:Concept / Paris

For her third solo show at Art : Concept, Vidya Gastaldon exhibits a dozen paintings and three small installations.

Spirituality and esotericism are the basis for her work, which is a “transcription of her experiences of consciousness expansion through yoga, meditation, sacred Hindu texts or psychedelics drugs.” She portrays “forms issued from altered states of consciousness as abstract representations, or rather, non-representations of a certain kind of knowledge that touches the divine.”

Gastaldon depicts in her paintings an organic world both venomous and generous, hallucinatory and disturbing, with cosmic creatures and soft forms threatening their infinite expansion like transcendental ectoplasmic landscapes. These landscapes are composed of living matter, constantly changing, mixing the infinitely large and the infinitely small in a mutating swarm of life. Her landscapes are infested with spirits or entities that arise from matter. At once mundane and psychedelic, they depict beginnings and endings of universes in explosions of darkness and light. They are entryways to a sublime otherworld, a world that just keeps opening up and opening up like patterns of light — an incandescent world.

Each landscape starts with “the simplicity of the ‘elements’ (earth, air, plains, vegetation, hills, mountains, clouds, etc.). All kinds of things can take root, grow, spread, explode, reproduce, float, fly, dissolve, live, laugh and die… finally to be reborn and so on and so forth. ” The works are reminiscent of Turner or Charles Burchfield. They are tied to a promise of an Eden with “dark corners, a sense of hovering threat that permeates the whole landscape.”

In these landscapes we encounter a few smiling faces that evoke altered states of consciousness and signify the “Cosmic Smile,” a divine acceptance of the state of things. In Galstalon’s non-dualistic “yearning for a greater unity,” figures of beauty and horror are mixed and co-exist on the same level. We encounter a SpongeBob in Vidya’s self-portrait, an allegory for the expansion of consciousness; multiple eyes come out of matter “to express the presence of spirits, a manifestation of an all-seeing presence, an all-encompassing consciousness.”

It’s possible to read many of the apocalyptic scenes she has drawn as “cities falling apart, as ecological or political fables that echo current anxieties about our future.” The artist titled her show “I’m in love with the new world” simply because we ought to remember “more often our ability to wonder at things — or just be happy.”

(Translated from French by William D. Massey)
by Timothée Chaillou