Carlotta Bailly-Borg

Carlotta Bailly-Borg was born in 1984 in France. They live in Brussels, Belgium. They graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy in 2010 and were an artist-in-resident at Le Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo in 2013. They have presented their work at Studio Amaro, Napoli; Attic, Brussels; CNEAI, Paris; Karma International, Los Angeles; Espace II at Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and Galerie Abilene, Brussels.

Location: Bastard Voices, Tallinn
Carlotta Bailly-Borg Out of tune 2018 Acrylic on cotton, aluminium 600 x 165 cm Courtesy the artist

The world of Carlotta Bailly-Borg is one of bodily collisions and knotted seductions. It’s a universe populated by bountiful selves as mutating forms, immersed in a pool of instinctual drives and restricted, slanted landscapes. Overlapping parts suggest an attempt to reach conjunction or an impossible completion.


Depicted both in solo and group formations and placed within tilted perspectives, Bailly-Borg’s ever-present figures engage in activities that imitate the raw nature of living beings where biological rhythms and exaggerated bodily extremities communicate with their surroundings. Where a stage is set, composition is only suggested as an oneiric range of coordinates: cut out and reassembled, these characters inhabit the scene in all their clumsiness.


Evolving from the sketchiness of preparatory drawings, the artist’s paintings retain graphic textures, using lines and contours to define permanently malleable shapes. Spillage and containment regulate the flux of raw desire gushing in between things, bodies crawling, awkward positions fleshed out. Curves are jammed and interlocked, often merging with the borders that shelter them; organic apertures meld with the enclosing lines. These beings fold toward a centre, reaching for the possibility of fulfillment, and direct their emotions toward it. Washy backgrounds entrap figurines in copulation, plastic bodies depicted between movement and stasis. Solid bones leave room for pliable matter.


In many of Bailly-Borg’s works, seemingly grotesque figures dance to the rhythm of their orientation in sensual movements by stretching, touching, loving, grabbing, and wanting. Coming from medieval drawings, old Peruvian ceramics or Greek mythology, these ambiguous characters recur in various media used by the artist. In FLIRT (I – V) (2017) earthenware tiles become bas-reliefs, welcoming a performance of anthropomorphic forms, intersecting gazes and soft limbs, and melting in a disassembled assemblage. They recall actors depicted on ceramic vessels, resisting history through their mythical narratives. They are gods and goddesses, fucking and fighting, lovers chasing lovers: history takes the fabric of contorted limbs, flooding desire in a clog of flesh. 
Profusions of anatomies engage in frenzied rites, recalling past Bacchanalia as potential instruments of conspiracy: praising Dionysos they follow their impulses. These are bodies that want other bodies or plural I’s open to give and take; hanging in non-dimensional places, they are faced with their own desires, digging into cavities to reach the guts of relationality. This goes as far as consuming and emptying one another, with rough eroticism spilling out. Bodies quashing, squeezing, clambering over, and balancing against one another: embodying each other in the softness of nocturnal landscapes.


The spaces are almost claustrophobic; they accentuate their limits while embracing a potential expansion. With their distorted perspectives and surrealist formalism, earlier works recall the suspended atmospheres and architectural fantasies of metaphysical paintings – like transient environments, never securing a sense of stability. Decor floating on top of surfaces but never settling describe rooms that renounce gravity in the normal sense: they require you to inhabit space as a fragmented body that can adapt to walls moving, floors shifting, objects falling.


Within these sceneries, desire dances among interstices, as a tension that both enmeshes and divides fleshed and entangled beings. It takes the form of protruding tongues, finding the cavities they need to colonise.


Carolina Ongaro