Porous zones



“Obese body, landscape body, so much has it lost, from some points of view, the aspect of the body and its sexuality. It has nevertheless found a new coherence, another beauty.

Addiction is so fundamentally, so typically human, and paradoxically it always takes place via what is most animal in us, the body. It twists it, deforms it, disturbs it, intoxicates it …”

Guy Oberson – Excerpt from studio journal (about Endless First Cry)


Porous Zones arose from researching the theme of permeability, the osmosis between an interior and a surface, exploring the links between the natural world and science, reason and the subconscious. This search, far from being isolated, is part of a broader context that reveals the essential role of the body in the artistic process. Contrary to an immaterial and Cartesian conception, science and art are conceived not as theoretical data, but as realities embedded in the reality of the flesh. As far as the role of the artist is concerned, what comes into play is not only the body as a model, a representation, but also the body of the artist himself, a body subject, ‘sentinel’, hyphen, inseparable from the very act of making visible.
In Pigment, it is the skin of the oil painting that expresses itself, in a passage between transparencies and shadows. If the overexposure of the palette of whites and grays seems to give the character an ethereal, supernatural consistency, the brutality of deep black streaks flowing from his tattooed arms nails him to his condition of being a man. The vision of this angel-devil, which makes us think of a contemporary Caravaggio, seems to tell us: beware of appearances and affiliations.
In the series Haunt Me, Haunt Me Again, three female bodies in a sequence, concentrated in a secret monologue that connects their heads to their genitals. Three bodies that diminish and become disembodied as the monologue is compressed, a red channel, to become a wound. Three bodies face up to words, as if speech can no longer be spoken, crystallized forever in flesh.
In the interstices of the body and the mind, the works presented in Porous Zones draw a path made of passages. A porous path at the end of which we realize the importance of the artist’s vision, which reveals the essential, because the essential is anchored in a living tissue. We very much appreciate Paul Valéry’s phrase: “The painter brings his body”. A timeless image of the artist as a ‘committed’ being, in the deepest sense of the word.”

Antonia Nessi, art historian
Excerpt from « Passages »
Text published in « Zones poreuses, carte blanche à Guy Oberson », Gallery C, Neuchâtel, 2016


“The heart, brain, breath, skin, blood, face, speech … To the artist Guy Oberson the exploration of human anatomy unquestionably evokes a deeply moving and deeply seductive act. Would it be relevant to relate this obsession with the fragmentation and introspection of the body to the activity of a scientist meticulously proceeding through an x-ray examination? Or the work of a photographer working on a report?
… To x-ray means, for Guy Oberson, to reconcile anatomical knowledge and sensitive understanding, rationality and emotion. Subjected to the internal pulsations of the body it is depicting, the artist’s hand vibrates and releases his own emotion, his overwhelming energy2 (Motion-Mode 1 and 2). On paper, the proportion of black and white measures the intensity of this transfer.
There persists in Guy Oberson’s x-ray examination something of the mystical experience that transforms the substance of the body into a fetish object. In the fabric of a loose dress (Dress series) are inscribed the imprints of organs, the frame of the torso and scars. The revelation of this image is dual, the clothing being at once flowing and funereal, volatile and heavy. At other times, the representation betrays a shameless intention, revealing highly intimate and sensual portraits. Supposed to conceal the body from external gaze, clothing exhibits, on the contrary, internal matter. From the depths of the body, a tinted decor is torn to the surface. The model’s skeleton is transformed into a couturier’s easel, flesh becomes supple as a fabric, blood prints patterns, decoration on the textile. The relationship between clothing and the body thus regains a privileged status that abolishes opacity in favour of visibility, the density of materials in favour of their fluidity.
Under the effect of overexposure, of a quasi-divine illumination, a young man (Pigment) turns his face away and flaunts his tattooed arm. On the surface of the epidermis are the codes of his existence, rejecting any banal or conformist destiny. Here, it is the tattoo and not the clothing that the body-being exhibits, by constituting its most faithful graphism. It is the cutaneous manifestation that holds the keys to knowledge and consciousness of being. Thus, far from categorization and social prejudice, the obesity of a woman is camouflaged in the eroticism of her figure (Endless First Cry). The protruding folds of the skin outline the map of an intimate geography, forever exalted.
“The porous zone” has finally reached its truthful, palpable, intelligible surface, its absolute x-ray!

Dora Sagardoyburu, Art historian
From « Guy Oberson – Le corps radiographié » (The X-Rayed Body)
Text published in « Zones poreuses, carte blanche à Guy Oberson », Gallery C, Neuchâtel, 2016


An exhibition with the same title was presented at Galerie C, Neuchâtel in 2016
Carte Blanche to Guy Oberson
With works by Jennifer Alleyn, Eric Manigaud, Guy Oberson, Françoise Pétrovitch, Eric Sansonnens and Heike Schieldhauer.