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.
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.