member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Through a Crystal Ball: Anne Bachelier

"The Pact"

In this post, we have two special treats: paintings by Anne Bachelier, and a microfiction piece by the lovely and supremely talented Vesna. Vesna has helped me out like this before, here and here,so if you haven’t read those pieces, be sure to do so! Her story this time illuminates the painting, The Book of Time, and is featured further down, after an introduction to some of Anne Bachelier’s other paintings.

"So Slowly Comes Sleep"

Anne Bachelier, whose beautiful, spacious atelier, filled with the vivid, preternatural blues, greens, and orange-ambers emerging from the mists of her canvases overlooks glorious forests and mountains around Grenoble, France, takes the gift of that view and the spirits, nymphs, and satyrs that inhabit it, and transports them to us via oil and cloth. Her paintings introduce other worlds, full of dreaming and wonder. Nebulous mists part slightly to expose luxurious costumes, as if the wearers were heading towards a secret ball, or an underground carnival. Or perhaps they are part of the magic traveling clan children sometimes tumble upon deep within a fairy-tale’s forest. There is everything the child in us needs: angels, gardens, games, and shimmering round baubles or mirrors for seeing through to the other worlds. There is a lot of mystery to these worlds, they are for that child in us who is still not afraid to explore, to navigate the darkness.

"The Ocean in this Mirror"

"In the Garden of the Faun"

"The Mist Portal"

"In the Stela Forest"

Her paintings often show the interconnectedness of all living things, or the blending of the spirits residing in them:

"Offering of the Butterflies"

Above, the pale flesh melts into the blues and greens of the dress. The butterflies mirror this color path: a deep blue-black as they escape the bowl, they turn to match her pale flesh as they reach her throat. In the background, a horned centaur.

"She Is Silence"

Press for a larger image, so that you can see the tiny birds nesting in/forming her hair, and the dangling pearls (again, those nebulous “crystal” balls!), one of which the raven grasps in his beak. Again, the beautiful costume becomes her flesh; the gold fish swim inside the cloth, pushing up from the dark depths and rising to the surface of her throat as if in the process of detaching from her figure...One more turn, and the next fish would take flight, or perhaps they all merely transformed, as they rose, into those golden birds crowning her head. She is only part “human,” then, forming from the deep waters of the earth and rising up to take flight to the heavens, that lovely, pale flesh a fleeting mask...

"She Who Collects Butterflies"
A woman transfers life from this world to another through one of those semi-transparent balls...

"Unknown Worlds in her Mirror"

Some of her angels:
For the 2008 show “être Ange, étrange...” [note the clever French wording by sounding it out if you don’t speak French; the meaning is “To Be an Angel, Strange...”], Anne created these angels:

(Les Anges)

"Good Education"

An angel stands over the shoulder of a child made of the most delicate cotton candy and ribbons, her eyes far off in a dream as the angel spins one of those magic glowing orbs before her. The texture of the wings and feathers are unlike anything I would have imagined, and therefor more believable, to me, as something of another world. It is a dark angel, with what might be horns. ..

"The Dream of Angels"

"The Book of Time"
In shamanistic cultures, the shaman will often identify with a specific animal, and wear a part of that animal (including a mask element) during ceremonies, when he's trying to walk through the spiritual world. It's possible that above, the creature that is flipping the pages back and forth is taking the wings and the bird mask together as a symbol of a transcendent creature, one able to live both on earth (ground) and in the heavens, and thus a clear representative of a messenger/angel. Notice that the figure in the foreground has a skirt of feathers herself, and they are the same color as the lower half of the angel figure in the reflection--so it seems almost as if the reflection shows what is "inside" her: her human (less detailed, more generic) self, the shell or body, and her spirit, the part of her that speaks to "god," the part of her that moves the pages around, arranging the images and stories that will become the representation of what she calls her "life"--even, perhaps, taking out sheets she does not want. Choosing, thus, part of her fate, making changes, choices.

Below, Vesna imagines yet a different scenario: the life in the glass is the one society looks at, the one gazed at and pondered, preened over. It is the adult life, the life of titles and duties and struggle. A life of lists. In the foreground, however, there is something else, a more simple, yet profound emotion:

My name is Margaret, I am the second wife of Sir John Hawkins.

He is an explorer,
a soldier, a pirate, a merchant,
a ship builder.
He travels to the West Indies,
the Caribbean,
he captures people and enslaves them, he fights, he plunders enemy ships.
He is part of the conspiracy, he is a double agent. He destroys the Spanish armada. He becomes the knight.

I just wait for him.
My book of time is simple.

Some of Anne Bachelier’s games:

"Secret Games"
I'm going to recommend that you follow the link to see this image as large as it gets, to really get a feel for the size of those red-clad specters above the child's head--of the immensity of the spirit-world, against the modest corner where the walls meet, and the floor which serves as a small stage where her life flits across their games. Notice also the gold ring encircling her and the sheen of the area encircled--much like the mirror or crystal ball Bachelier often uses to show two worlds coming to meet. The three levels of the painting, spirits, child, and marionettes, give a sense of proportion to the mere, undreamed lives of humans. (As opposed to our dreamed lives, wink wink). And why are these games secret?

"Les Jeux Incertains"

"Les Mots Sortilege" (“Spell” Words)
"When I paint, I open doors...."--Anne Bachelier
Les Mots Sortilege shows how beautiful are the doors she paints, and the world that exists behind them.

“Arcane” (closed)

Arcane is a triptych, whose lovely doors open to reveal the following:

“Arcane” (open)

“Arcane,” Detail

And, as always, the doors open...

Towards a New Journey

Anne Bachelier’s website is here.Her work is currently showing at the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco.


  1. Thank you...Que dire de plus... je suis très très touchée de l'intérêt que vous portez à mon travail...

  2. Dear Zoe, you have the magic touch. Anne's art is fantastic and gorgeous and so is your presentation here. I am glad to be part of this, truly honored, Vesna

  3. Zoe I was so mesmorized that when this post ended I felt as though I was in a trance.

    The art was like a little heaven.

    Vesna's story I liked very much.

    Love you dear friend.

    Renee xxooxox

  4. I'm amazed of your posts Zoe. The pictures and drawings you show. The writing. Thanks.

    I love the flash writer, Vesna. Despite the Spanish armada destroyed,again :).

  5. Thank you for your kind comments:)

  6. Darling just to come here and get to look at the devine art once again is life enhancing. It lifts up my life that someone could paint like this.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

  7. Anne Bachelier has done some great work. I especially like her small illustrations from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

  8. Thank you, zoe for this fascinating post!

    The paintings by Anne Bachelier and Vesna's story are so nice!
    <In shamanistic cultures, the shaman will often identify with a specific animal, and wear a part of that animal (including a mask element) during ceremonies>
    The above reminds me of the Pre-Columbian gold masks and pendant tops( bat and bird designs) I saw at the exhibition which was held in Tokyo, 2008. They were used during ceremonies for the purpose of what you've mentioned!  

  9. Zoe, I was thinking about this post, remembering that Bachelier was at CFM gallery along with Steve Cieslawski (who did a jacket for one of my books). Then I was thinking about Clive H-J (dittand how you would like his work--and I hopped over to his artlog and there you were! One can't get ahead of Ms. Zoe.

  10. Wherever did the "(ditt" come from?

  11. Anne is an ILLUSTRATOR, not a fine or academic artist.
    She can't render realistic anatomy or faces at all.
    Lovely ILLUSTRATIONS suited for books but please don't compare her to Remedios Varo, a true artist in every sense with solid, classical drafting skills.

    1. I'm appalled by the useless nastiness of your comment; why would you post it?

      Anne's art is, to me, magical, and there is quite an astonishing assumption in your "can't" (Do you know Ms. Bachelier personally?). She *chooses* a style which is not focussed on realism but rather on a sense of otherworldliness and magic, like dreaming. Realism is a different style altogether. That is, I repeat, a CHOICE.

      Her style is entirely different from Remedios Varo's (agreed), but Varo also didn't focus on realism...For example, one of my favorites of Varo, Embroidering the Earth's Mantel, shows faces which could hardly be described as "realistic", but which are perfectly suited for her purpose, which is also an exploration of the otherworldly.

      Intentional ugliness does nothing to further art. Please don't bring it here.

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