Focus on Collections
Judit Reigl and Mwangi Hutter
The Abattoirs' collections include approximately 3,880 works. They are built up through annual acquisitions, donations and deposits. A real living material, they are the object of rereading and rediscovery, lending themselves to the eyes of artists, professionals and the public, depending on the project. They are regularly presented during exhibitions on the Abattoirs site as well as in the Occitanie region.
This "Focus Collections" highlights artists from two generations who, beyond their differences, have in common an interest in the basis of our identities, whether it be cultural, corporeal or whether it lies in the overcoming of the expected forms of art (abstraction versus figuration, duality rather than individuality).
Les Abattoirs present two new acquisitions by the artist duo Mwangi Hutter. The work of Ingrid Mwangi (Nairobi, Kenya, 1975) and Robert Hutter (Ludwigshafen, Germany, 1964) is fused, so much so that the two artists have combined their surnames and biographies to become one artist.
Through their own experience of duality, navigating between two bodies, female and male, and two cultures, European and African, Mwangi Hutter questions the human condition and seeks to overcome differences. Their work takes the form of videos, performances, photographs, paintings and installations, in which the body occupies a central place. Their works evoke these notions of otherness and identity, in an approach that is both personal and political. The photographic triptych Fence is the result of the performance The Cage, which took place in Johannesburg (South Africa) in 2009. Behind a fence, Robert Hutter cuts off his clothes and shaves his hair, producing pieces of himself. The artist exchanges them for his naked body, offered to the public as a canvas for writing and free expression. Through the presence of this metallic border, these images present the public space and the question of social inequality in a context marked by discrimination and racial violence. "By confronting our own bodily limits, we affirm that the political is personal and individual intervention is a vehicle for social and political change. Performance in public space is a means of producing direct engagement with the public that Mwangi Hutter contrasts with their more introspective research as here with the work Roar of Unspoken voices. From the Embracing series, this painting is a sublime evocation of love and the power of bodies. The female figure embraces and supports her partner, underlining through the use of paint and the play of black and white that identity is a construction.
Les Abattoirs pay tribute to Judit Reigl (1923, Kapuvár, Hungary - 2020, Marcoussis, France) and present three major works from the Judit Reigl Endowment Fund in deposit at Les Abattoirs. This ensemble is representative of Judit Reigl's work, between abstraction and figuration.
After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, Judit Reigl secretly fled Hungary, which was under the yoke of Stalinism. She arrived in France in 1950. The writer André Breton integrated her into the Surrealist group, as did her fellow artist Simon Hantaï. Despite the seduction of automatic writing and dreamlike iconography, she quickly detached herself from this artistic movement. She then turned to painting that exalts the gesture, the translation of the movements of the body and the spirit. In the 1950s and 1960s, she worked simultaneously on several series: Éclatement (1955-1958), Centre de dominance (1958-1959), Écriture en masse (1959-1965) and Expérience d'apesanteur (1965-1966). His works do not follow a linear and chronological development. The series are generated and overlap, as the paintings in question are taken up, reworked or covered over. With the Écriture en masse, the artist makes exclusive use of black and white, the background and the edges of the canvas remaining mostly blank. She uses a blade that allows her to punctuate the space with large spots, which she then scrapes from the bottom to the top with a flexible steel bar. After this period, Judit Reigl gradually returned to the representation of the body with the series Homme (1966-1972), choosing never again to have to choose between abstraction and figuration. A thick black line, often associated with a colour, reveals torsos, most often male, which almost entirely cover the canvas. This presence of the body is found in the work New York from a series produced between 2001 and 2002. Produced in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York on 11 September 2001, an event that shocked the artist, this work shows Judit Reigl's sensitivity to the reality of her time. The iconography of the event echoes the motif of the falling body already present in the artist's work, and also the fundamental place of the body in the creative process of her works, which result from a real physical engagement of the artist with the canvas.