Norma Bessières or the breath of a zebra


As though Buren had become a wildlife sculptor, Norma Bessières explores the possibilities of the zebra’s infinitely rich motif with unwavering determination.


Naturally endowed with graphic properties, the zebra has always inspired many artists (including Alain Jacquet and Victor Vasarely) who have grappled with the issue of nature versus art or how nature stimulates artists to engage with geometric and symbolic concepts.


The zebra is indeed an oddly fascinating animal because it occupies the tenuous border between drawing and the living, an ongoing reflection since ancient times.


For the past ten years, Norma Bessières has employed these elements in the most diverse forms, here and there adding color or removing natural elements, multiplying points of view and changing the framing. This can lead to turbulent abstraction which plunges us into the living eye of the animal and thereby takes us back to our own humanity.


It is in her new series that she explores the essence of these queries. Her brushstrokes, sculptures, and installations may be positioned around an apparently straightforward matter of the living versus the inanimate, but it is an issue that Norma Bessières sublimates with intelligence and sensitivity.


She experiences the zebra, its grace, and its astonishing geometry that seems to exist miraculously, making it almost sacred. Yet all things visible are inanimate: the artwork, the painting, the geometric lines that are drawn from this image by man and his tendency to transpose reality into signs and symbols. Might herein lie a possible definition of art?


The Ruptures series, and the diptychs in particular, whichever way one reads them, from an angle of life to the inanimate or the other way around, form a ribbon, a charming trinket that makes life more beautiful. It also intertwines geometry and the living, with audacity, texture, and fabric representing the breath of creative inspiration that the artist injects into objects to bring them back to life.


The zebra is a kind of guide to the universal ambition of being rather than having. Norma Bessières is right to hold on to it, because it still contains, let there be no doubt, plentiful inspiration for the future.