In the works of this artist – and especially in the engravings so dear to her – we can see reflections of her eventful life, with the continual changes of place and culture that have characterized her wanderings -- an unquenched thirst for knowledge and experience. And the many-faceted dynamism of her life-style is found here, too, in her never-ending experimentation with new techniques, often “seen” only in the fantasies that fill her thoughts and dreams, the imaginings of a hallucinated wanderer in search of herself. It is through these highly evocative combinations that the equally imaginative journeys of her art develops. I am speaking of Caroline Gallois, whose canvases, engravings and etchings express the captivating, though tumultuous, superimposition of the many and varied experiences of her life. These she admirably succeeds in translating into poetic images filtered through a delicate sensibility clearly linked to creative gifts that at times are expressed in difficult circumstances.
Born in Saigon of French parents, Caroline was educated in France. Here she first met the themes fundamental to her culture, whose reflections she continued to search for during her travels in Asia and then in Mexico. Rummaging in the vast, untidy store of her emotions, here she produced her first paintings and engravings. She then transferred her in-depth studies of art from the sun of Mexico and the cumulated reflections of the last seven years to a totally different dimension: the dynamic life of New York, where she lived and worked for an entire decade, once again showing her stupendous vocation for the new without betraying the deep traces of the past.
For some years now she has been in Florence, captivated by it’s the glory of its harmonious testimonies of the Renaissance. Though this city is scarcely receptive to the stimulations of fashion and change, even when the chaotic evolution of life-styles requires them, Caroline has found a fertile climate here -- fertile not so much to give an order to the wealth of ideas that spring continually from her memory, as if constantly struggling against the coercion exercised by that fantastic container, as because it is here that she has found new enchantment and ancient poetry: an adventure undertaken by going back to the atmospheres of one of the first poets to use the vulgate, the magnificent verses of Dante.
The Arno and the Divine Comedy are the chapters of the new story that Caroline has included in her ongoing graphic experimentation, more through an instinctive welcoming of these solicitations of the spirit than by studied design. She has brought to them the echoes of her love for the verse and character of Baudelaire: the great insights developed by this giant of French poetry, his fragments and the workings of his mind, his infatuation with the Orient, his way of life and above all his idea of beauty, all codified in her memory from her readings of Les fleurs du mal.... And then, superimposed on everything else, the memory of the colors found in her years in Mexico and absorbed in her very depths, to the point of retracing, if only briefly, the seductions of this civilization.
All this, perhaps with some degree of chronological disorder that is not in the end important in the total context of Caroline’s method, a method that never fails to achieve a fragmentary recovery of lived experience while introducing each time a meaningful piece into the new graphic project. The result is a narration composed of single chapters, seemingly independent but actually bound by a fine thread that the artist unravels out of the fabric of her literary culture. This is the culture that lies behind all her works, both the engravings and the paintings, so that it is hard to put them into a hierarchy of value in an inevitably specious attempt at cataloguing.
Over time questions of technique have taken on fundamental importance in Gallois’ continually reinvented engravings, whose unique effects express emotions unlikely to be repeated in later experiences. And, after all, it is only logical that this should be so, considering the constantly reborn character of the emotionality that issues tumultuously from the artist’s consciousness, calling for inimitable nuances for its visual representation. In Florence, Caroline has so far mainly cultivated two great literary loves: the Arno and Dante. They are re-proposed in her engravings, where the many technical innovations used show her deepening relationship with the city and its culture. Though it might seem that the engravings have substituted painting, this is only apparently so. In fact, just when they reach the limits of technical transgression, the artist rediscovers less audacious terms through certain erasures of color, while her drafting often tapers off in a way mindful of the paintbrush or the palette knife. The result is a combination that gives heightened value to the use of painting, including the final definition of the image made on the print itself with water-colors that add life and vigor of tone.
In the Dantesque Comedy Caroline’s adventure is marked by her felt participation in the poetry, and therefore in the poetic that she adopts by abandoning herself to the rhythm of the literary images. These she grasps and interprets with an audacious superimposition of written words and harmoniously drawn figures. I am convinced that this art, through which Gallois gradually describes the image of her own existence, is destined to find new images that will continue to enrich her complex technical development and will keep her in touch with her own, innermost image, whose physiognomy is always studied before being transferred onto the mirror of life. Both in her engravings and her paintings.
Text by Tommaso Paloscia Translation by Brenda Porster