Céline Bernabé : “I am not her, I am the other one”

From October 19th to November 10th , Céline Bernabé, presents at Centre Culturel Rémi Nainsouta in Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe) her second personal exhibition entitled “Projection”. The multidisciplinary Martinican artist who lives in Guadeloupe does not hesitate to be staged to support this theme which seems rather complex, at first sight.

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“Me? For whom? Why?”, “What do you see about you?”, “Heu…?”, “Me + Me + Me”, “How much?”, “Inside, a treasure”, these are some enigmatic titles of the works in the exhibition entitled “Projection” that Céline Bernabé presents at the Centre Culturel Rémi Nainsouta in Pointe-à-Pitre. The artist offers the public photographs of her, drawings, paintings based on acrylic and pastel, collage, installations…

“I had this theme following a personal work that I had done on myself, some time ago. It was necessary for me to have this help. I discovered the word “Projection” which is “the fact of attributing to someone your own emotions”. So I did some research”, said Céline Bernabé. Some people will be also surprised to note that the great majority of the works on display are based on the photo, the portrait of the artist, but she denies being a narcissistic person. “My body, more exactly my face, is my work support. I show expressions such as sadness, anger… I made many photos using my mobile phone or my camera. I started working self-portrait in 2015”, said the artist.

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The mirror and its symbols

One thing is certain : to understand this exhibition, the visitor must accept to question himself, to wonder about his own existence. During the opening on October 18th, Céline Bernabé presented a performance called “I am not her, I am the other one” to show that the image other people can have of us is not necessarily the true one…

“From one person to another, the interpretation of a photo is totally different, a person perceives the self-portrait from his own emotions. A young woman visited the exhibition and I saw she was completely shoked by some works (…) I give explanations to visitors who want, I give lines of thought, reflections, I put question marks in the titles of my works. There are people who come to see the exhibition and they do not want explanations”, she said.

To clarify the theme “Projection”, Céline Bernabé used the mirror, this mirror that reflects our portrait, this broken mirror in which some people refuse to look, this mirror which, in our West Indian societies, is full of symbols. “I also see in the mirror the magical aspect with “Alice in Wonderland”… In addition, a child who sees himself, for the first time, in a mirror understands that he is an individual person whereas before he was forming a whole with his mother (…) In the installation called “À l’intérieur, un Trésor” (Inside a Treasure), the visitor tends to look for this famous treasure into the box but he sees himself in the mirror because, in fact, he is the treasure”, explained the designer.

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A multidisciplinary and self-taught artist

Céline Bernabé is from Martinique, an island she knows little because she grew up in France. She arrived in Guadeloupe in 2008 and she works as a social worker for an important local authorities. She discovered the artistic world at the age of 6 when she began taking piano and singing lessons. In 1998, she even had the opportunity to go to Lebanon to perform a play called “Nuit guerrière”

Twelve years ago, the young woman decided to be interested in the visual arts following a training with an art-therapist: “He had given us paper and paint and asked us to do what we wanted. I started throwing paint on this sheet and this trainer told me that this gesture was called projection. I had done several works and he had advised me not to give up painting”, she told.

Céline Bernabé is a selft-taught and multidisciplinary artist and she already participated in group exhibitions in Guadeloupe as “57” last September or “Inité” (Unity) last July.

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Painting as therapy

“Projection” is her second personal exhibition; last March, for the first time, she had shown art lovers her work during an exhibition of abstract paintings entitled “Instincts Primaires” (Primary Instincts) at Fort Fleur d’Epée in the town of Gosier. “I feed on things, images. Unconsciously, I’m influenced by what I see in the streets, in the exhibitions I see. I’m enriched with different techniques. Recently, I discovered collage and I used it in this exhibition”, she said.

This year, the young artist managed (with one of her colleagues) to integrate art in her profession by organizing workshops where families (father, mother and children) are invited to create a work together. “This allows to see the dynamics of the family, the place of each member in this family, their ability to listen. Some even want to re-start the experience and want to know where to buy the material for the practice of painting”, said Céline Bernabé.

A beautiful way to democratize art in Guadeloupe.