Review of Virginie Yassef: Au milieu du Crétacé, Galerie Vallois, Paris

Review of Virginie Yassef: Au milieu du Crétacé, Galerie Vallois, Paris

You can state, and you won’t be wrong, that nowadays an artist’s approach is frequently described in hackneyed and ambiguous phrases about the balance of reality and fiction. These aphorisms could hide plenty of meanings and reach even the essence of art itself. However, for the work of emerging French artist, Virginie Yassef, these terms could indeed be appropriate. The artist creates fictional, almost surreal mise en scenes.

Entering her solo exhibition at Parisian Galerie Vallois, the visitor faces an installation L’Objet du doute (2013), a tree trunk, obstructing his way and then it suddenly starts to stir. This work was shown in a more natural setting for a fallen tree atmosphere, barring the rue des Cascades during the art festival ‘Nuit Blanche’. As the artist explains, one of the key ideas for this artwork is to provoke a feeling of uncertainty for the spectator, to create a particular object and situation as a provocation of the question of how we can deal with art today. The tree is not ready-made, it’s a constructed sculpture and this fact becomes visible after examination of its expressive texture.

Photo-miniatures from the series Scenario Fantôme are the preamble to the installations. The diptychs and triptychs document fragments that captured Yassef’s eye, and in each of them there is the adhesive element for two photographs. The images retell of the artist’s investigation of the urban landscape and tend to prompt an enigmatic weird story.

As a matter of fact, the artistic method and a manner of display of Virginie Yassef could be portrayed as scenario, a stage, incomplete without a visitor. In the second room she set up the installation No one has ever seen a dog deliberately exchange a bone with another dog (2012), that was, in some measure, inspired by a short story Investigations of a Dog (1922) by Franz Kafka. On the green lawn of a carpet she roundly placed a few fake stones and stubs with built-in dynamics. Thus, the visitor becomes a witness to a conversation between sculptures, that are “all set to talk”.

I must admit that the theme of Kafkian transformation is by no means extraneous to Virginie Yassef’s oeuvre. She transforms her creations to the fake ready-mades, even fake variation on “nature-mort” and makes them decorations for a play with an unpredicted scenario of her authorship.

The Yassef exhibition is combined with a show from French young painter Pierre Seinturier, whose vivid canvases prompt the scenes from noir-like film plots and dialogue of a Virginie Yassef play.

Ekaterina Shcherbakova

Virginie Yassef: Au milieu du Crétacé runs until 1 March at the Galerie Vallois, 36, rue de Seine, 75006 Paris. For more information visit

1. Virginie Yassef, L’objet du doute, 2013. Courtesy Galerie GP & N Vallois, Paris. Photo : Nicolas Brasseur, Nuit Blanche Paris 2013