Regardless of the specific technique Anne-Lise Coste (*1973, Marignane, FR) employs in her work – whether airbrush, spray paint, lacquer, acrylic or oil – her drawings and texts, brimming with immediate and spontaneous gestures, are often reminiscent of graffiti and urban space. These compositions of simple schematic shapes and words refer, among other things, to the long history of Art Brut. Considered by the artist to represent the freedom of childhood – but also resistance – this combination of “naïve” lines and specifically referential words or symbols casts a view onto both the violence of our society and the beauty of the world.
This is reflected already in the exhibition’s title, LA LA CUNT: in an ambiguous, poetic way, it provides a preview of what is on view. The title refers to the slightly kitschy, Oscar-winning Hollywood musical La La Land (2016), and links it to a pejorative term for women.
The first work one encounters at the entrance is already a direct reference to this struggle between power, gender and poetry: Poème, Pute, Police. The three spray-painted words, written with a hasty hand on a found window, at first read like an alliteration, but they also directly express the tension between violence and beauty.
A certain play within the combining of words sits at the center of Anne Lise Coste’s work. The 54 canvases of Poème de la Douleur (Poem of Pain) each bear a single spray-painted word, and as the title suggests, can be read like a poem. Meaning arises – and changes – according to the combination of words, while also depending on the pace in which one walks by or their attention paid while doing so. Strung in a row across the gallery’s floor, the words draw a line like Constantin Brancusi’s Infinite Column, dividing the space into two halves – perhaps a reference to the conflict between specific terms and their potential for varied ascriptions in determining meaning.
Photos by Simon Vogel, Dortmunder Kunstverein, 2020