Kaligram
by Artabo
Kaligram by Artabo

Is it my fault... Am I the only one? ...who immediately hears in 'Artabo' the whisper of the Latin 'Amabo', I will love, mingled with 'art', creating art, performing art, experiencing art... Hearing this so aptly chosen name, my imagination bubbles with the echoes of a motto, a promise, and an oath. Once upon a time, we would have said, Nom de guerre. Martial artist Lætitia d'Etiolles is not a warrior with mask but painter with words, her shield as vulnerable as a signature.
The Kaligram series stuns with the magnificence of plastic achievement, seamlessly weaving opposites, the coîncidentia oppositorum of the Alchemists and Mystics. She interlaces the power of shapes with the energy of signs, hence unveiling the shapes for our mind. She weaves a dialectic between allusive organic shapes imbued with animal or plant reminiscences and abstract earmarks, unique conceptual schemes - the hidden ideography of the enigma. The sixteen symbols of the Artabian or Artabesque alphabet, riddled with arrows, crosses, wheels, spirals and notches stand revealed as monumental architectural designs. That which will be constructed is already construction. The symbols will suit whether they merge to build the robust skeleton of a primeval being or the sturdy frame of a machine for some uncertain purpose.
The outpouring of raw power and masterful flair at Artabo is what I like to call 'lightning logos'. Their impetuosity is balanced within a frame of meticulously adjoined, concentric rings. Such passion is not so much contained and mastered - too easy, by far - as it is supported, enhanced even, against its background.
Sixteen figures against a background. What melody, we wonder, will array the dance of these delightful cards garbed in such dazzling colours. We must rise to the challenge of finding a choreography worthy of their brilliance. Yet perhaps they conceal the mystery of witching wands demanding that, together, we invent the arcana and avatars of our fate.
We will have to unravel the shining affirmation of unusual, unique signifiers where the ever-flickering, never fading message quietly seethes, radiates and provokes. Aware of their explosive yet constructive potential, we should watch them enthusiastically albeit carefully. We should attempt to win them over. Trust them, they will educate our eyes. Artabo the sorceress beckons us to embrace the obvious, invoked by Wittgenstein, "It is all before our eyes." As if to say, 'HE WHO LOOKS WILL LIVE.'

Françoise Armengaud
Senior Lecturer, Paris X University

 

Autoportrait
Kaligram 2002
MASSORAH
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