The essence of the familiar

In our time when technological progress goes alongside allegedly « rigid » traditions, when

the wounds on our planet seem to reinvigorate space colonization, where contemporary art

takes all kinds of paths, each carrying its own meaning, one could be surprised that the art of

Bettina Sultan exists.

This surprise is similar to the one we may have waking up out of a bad dream, when our

eyes still full of images of the dark fantasies and familiar objects around us in anxious when

healing and rediscovery disbelief mingle.

The work of Bettina Sultan inevitably returns us to our so-called certainties,

like collectors of emotions , to wonder about their basis.

The question raised by her works is :  "What do we face ". It is indeed foolish

to think that we can escape facing ourselves, despite the technical, economic and military

vortex looming !

It would certainly be possible to address this issue raised by philosopher Levinas in a more

abstract and less  "traditional" way but precisely : Bettina Sultan is challenging us in a more

direct and immediate way.

Face against face or a body against body, without any false modesty.

This familiarity of form could hurt or disturb. Very surprised, we , invoke great

Portrait masters - Leonardo, Michelangelo, Camille Claudel, Modigliani, Matisse, Cocteau,

Picasso - to free us from the grip of an evidence that remains to be identified.

When our vision recovers some of its innocence, Bettina Sultan welcomes us into the essence

of our own privacy. Staring in the eyes, wandering along the borders of our body, meeting

the other for what he is, within or beyond artifacts.

By confronting us in front to the outline of an expression, she makes us depositary of its


Each work is a meeting, as delicate as entering into contact with a child. Each

speech, tone, every gesture counts, we are torn between the role of the guardian of a

complicated world and that of being the one who seeks to empower the other, only to be

finally in its otherness.

If art performs rites, those of Bettina Sultan fuel humans beings. Her art serves them. The

design is purposely clay golem to a wall without issue representation.

We even come to wonder if her works could find their rightful place in a

museum or in a gallery.

The modernity of her art lies precisely in the familiarity relative to each other, which can not

be established practice in the art. It is remarkable to see the close relationship in between the

collector and the art work . The purchaser always places his art work in an intimate place: not

in the reception room, but in the bedroom or the office, never far from home. Each work

seems to operate as a point of interconnection between people weaving yet another painting in

the world, far more real and unspeakable.


The earth and the horizon

The nature of the works - ink, charcoal, oil, clay, lead - remains natural and mineral. one can

tell that the drawing is close to the plant versus the clay mass sculptures from which emerges

a shape. Both techniques echoes each other, and give our eyes a complementary vision. From

the mass arises the form and an intention . The first movement is get out of the material .

Unlike Michelangelo groups, where the shape emerges from a dialogue with a block of

marble, in Bettina Sultan’s works, the material and the intention are one. The intention calls

for a certain material.The shape is not a reflection of intention or sublimation, and even less

relative contingency but his consubstantiality. Matter is spirit. they have had to deal with one

another to achieve peace. If peace is there, we see

fragile. There is never any real peace, for these clay heads or lead will cease to

We ask and offer a constant dialogue, especially when their eyes are closed.

To this dialogue with the material, we can invite her drawings that complements it. The

wonderful drawing by Bettina Sultan, free, relentless and carnal invites us to a commited

division of space . The margin for error is expressed bluntly. It is part of the « conquest of

Space ». If everything is in everything here and now everyone has a place and should take

conscience of borders. This trait is both drawing and calligraphy. Each body , each signs

space but if borders are drawn draft of the territory it creates is yet to imagine. While the

sculptures remind us of  "the beginning" , drawings refers us to the end, to existential

questions. "What about our nudity ? " .

Here, for example, a question often asked by her drawings.

Faces, human figures drawn by Bettina Sultan are looming between the earth and the horizon.

Sometimes,  the patina or shades indicate a psychic orientation according to, again two polarities,

plants growing full of green and the climax of passion, ocre-rouge, unsurpassable. The earth

and the horizon, one never goes without the other.


Renewed time

The dialogue that creates the works of Bettina Sultan remains open. What also creates the

intimate relationship is trust, in all circumstances. So, no need to put oneself in special

circumstances, to choose a suitable place to guide us. The relationship is as discreet as it is

deep. It is never final, and it is indeed a dialogue made of successive interactions. Despite

the often smaller size of the sculptures, one does embrace them all in a single glance. When we think we saw them all, she proposes a new vision.

It is always a new experience. The human figure, so familiar and which has hardly changed

since its origins, is a privileged support questioning its temporality and its own history.

Everything moves, everything changes, everything dematerialises around us, yet faces and

silhouettes remain with the same questions .We must gather, sort, organize.

This work is renewed each time we see an exhibition of the works by Bettina Sultan. Thus behind the eternal questions we need to recreate a sense and a link from the hustle and bustle we carry within us.

This work of perpetual pacification, re-civilisation which is at the heart of concerns of the current world, is the essence of the art of Bettina Sultan and attests to its timeless value.


P. A.