Illuminating the Grain | Annie Lafleur

(translated by Oana Avasilichioaei)

Merleau-Ponty writes that the drawing “will concern us like some decisive word. It will arouse in us the profound schema which has settled us in our body and through the body in the world. It will bear the mark of our finitude and thereby, and by the means of that very finitude, it will lead us to the secret substance of the object of which previously we possessed only the envelope” (150, my emphasis).

Elmyna Bouchard follows the clandestine path of fragments of paper that are carefully inked, studied, folded, and which spread out and overflow the four corners of the table trying to rein them in. The line never stops fleeing into space, but instead ceaselessly composes this fleeing action as an elongation, a spiral, an outpouring. Yet this decisive word evokes the idea of effusiveness through whispers, sighs, giggles. Right away, Bouchard’s works take the secret substance of the object to the limit of our senses through a colour that evokes an odour or a stroke that stirs up memories of childhood. Her works lead us via these tender excerpts to places on which we haven’t set eyes for a long time.

The artist’s work consists of pure horizons in which our perception becomes a transfinite number. Something both familiar and strange arises in passing. As though there, the sun rises according to its own algebra equation. This engraved science boldly propagates the intense pleasure of the line. The line pierces and propels its colour like a young knight on his mount across all possible landscapes, penetrates the paper, blushes, breathes, and dies in bursts of pearlescent black ink. It explodes in golden halos or gently weeps in fine streaks into the very pulp of the paper.

Elmyna Bouchard’s work is Stiftung in that it designates “the unlimited fecundity of each present which, precisely because it is singular and passes, can never stop having been and thus being universally” (Merleau-Ponty, 68). Here, the paper functions like an oscillograph that records the variations of a physical magnitude as a function of time: “The aim is to leave on the paper a trace of our contact with [the] object and [the] spectacle, insofar as they make our gaze and virtually our touch, our ears, our feeling of risk or of destiny or of freedom vibrate” (Merleau-Ponty, 150). Together, the unknown spectacle and object create a life of paper, a cosmos that opens the door to the time of a drawing. While the line of the collages might come to an abrupt end, it will nevertheless happily reappear through this imaginary mathematics that governs all composition. Planimetric rules dream and disperse in the arabesque “toward a signification that was nowhere prior to itself” (Merleau-Ponty, 152).

As chromatic provisions come into contact with the support, they are raised into minute nucleic spectacles, a brilliant cadence of colourful lozenges, an underwater galaxy relit on a beach into parabolic beams. Colour poses like a huge piece of candy, slightly melted on the thumb and gobbled up. The work gives way to a conquest of illuminating the grain; the way snow or pollen falls from the atmosphere. Everything becomes visible. The paper finds a way of existing without being synonymous.

The artist gracefully expresses and imprints the hidden depths of pigment in the moist frame of ink, in the intimate fold of the paper, in a “secret resonance through which our finitude opens up to the being of the world and becomes poetry” (Merleau-Ponty, 151). She brings the figurants back to the forefront: the fibre, the grain, the fold, the tonality must play out their existence in all costumes. The theatre curtain is then cut up and set on the stage like all characters in search of a short play for paper.


Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Prose of the World. Translated by John O’Neill. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973.