Esotericism in art, creations at the frontiers of reality

For the past two months, Bianca Bondi, 35, has transformed a room at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Boulogne into a place of rose-powdered meditation from the floor to the walls. The South African artist installed salt water basins there, adding to this fountain shell and bird bones. « as a gesture of thanks to the gods ”, explains the young woman with new age accents.

In the air, a strong smell of earth and grass « to help meditation », continues the visual artist passionate about the kingdom of life and the properties of minerals. At the Mor Charpentier gallery in Paris, where she exhibits simultaneously, Bianca Bondi stages found objects and plants that she crystallized by salt, such as « washed of their past waves ».

Pigments, gold and cabalistic patterns

Many artists today borrow esoteric forms, rituals and energies. So with Paul Mignard, who, at the Jérôme Poggi gallery in Paris, poaches on the side of alchemy, with his seductive paintings strewn with pigments, gold and cabalistic motifs. Or Laura Gozlan who, last summer, reactivated at the 40mcube art center in Rennes, the demonized figure of the witch by interpreting Mum, an androgynous character who bewitches and revolts at the same time.

“Version”, by Paul Mignard (2021).

In 2020, the Mo. Co, in Montpellier, explored the attraction for the occult of artists born in the 1980s, under the label “Possédé.es”. Equally eloquent is the title chosen last October by the last exhibition of the Pernod Ricard Foundation prize, “Bonaventure”, as a game of divination to explore the alternative imagination of fifteen young artists.

« I grew up with the “Charmed” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series. »Bianca Bondi

The community’s appetite for occult practices can be explained in part by generational factors. « I grew up with the series Charmed (story of three sisters descended from a line of witches in San Francisco) and Buffy the vampire slayer », recognizes Bianca Bondi, who, at the age of 10, creates a first group of witches – she will found two others thereafter. On Instagram, Witch keyword counts more than 16 million posts, while spell tutorials spread on TikTok.

To ward off the evils of our society?

The artist Myriam Mihindou, who has identified a clear penchant for ghosts among art students, sees this resurgence as a symptom of a disoriented era. « These young artists are without benchmarks, and they need to be afraid to exorcise their anguish », deciphers the Franco-Gabonese, herself initiated into vévé, these symbols that voodoo priests trace on the ground to bring spirits into the afterlife.

« Rhizome », by Myriam Mihindou (2000).

Esotericism to ward off the evils of our society? « Absoutely, answers the young curator Marianne Derrien. The artists look to the side of alternative knowledge to generate a counter-power. They open their imaginations to shamanic, animist or voodoo practices which were despised by the colonial powers. “

Practices all the more appreciated because they are intuitive and inclusive, in contrast to the rationalist spirit inherited from the Renaissance. « Young artists are interested in what is excluded, banned by patriarchy and dogmas ”, confirms Vincent Honoré, commissioner of the “Possédé.es”, who also sees it as a “Political seesaw”. Car “We are not in the folklore of the occult, but in a feminist, queer and racialized dimension”. Esotericism erected in art and pride.

« Bianca Bondi, Daydream », until January 24, Fondation Louis Vuitton and « Underland », until December 18, Galerie Mor Charpentier.
« Nopal, Paul Mignard », until December 23, Poggi Gallery.

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Esotericism in art, creations at the frontiers of reality