By combining French decorative arts motifs, organic imagery, and contemporary motivations into visual poetry, French artist Alice Riehl’s porcelain wall murals exist in a liminal space between the natural and constructed worlds. Nurtured by the memory of her grandmother’s needlework, Riehl explores the combination of porcelain and lace, working the peculiar texture of this marriage into a personal signature of her botanical inspired ceramic works.
The inception of Riehl’s monumental Alter Ego wall installation took shape during the lock-down of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. During this time, many city residents found themselves confined to cramped apartments, and it was trees that provided them with their sole tangible link to nature. These trees provided a glimpse of spring’s arrival and the cyclical pattern of seasons during a time marked by significant turmoil and uncertainty.
Fascinated by the unique aerial roots and extraordinary qualities of the banyan tree, Alter Ego emerged as a representation of a single tree with two distinct trunks. One trunk radiates with vitality, adorned with branches, leaves, and fruit, while the other hovers on the brink of decline, shedding leaves but also nurturing a cluster of roots striving to expand. These two extremes mirrored the inherent duality within each of us: the “self” and the “other self.” This concept was reminiscent of Arthur Rimbaud’s famous phrase “Je est un autre”(I is someone else), highlighting the multitude of inner voices we all possess. Through Alter Ego, Riehl emphasized humanity’s tendency to admire the fragile beauty of nature even as we endanger it, revealing our inability to safeguard and cherish what we hold most dear and admire.
Taking a step back to view the installation from a distance reveals a circular motion emanating from the entire work. In this way, Alter Ego exudes a glimmer of hope, symbolizing the remarkable resilience of life encapsulated in the astonishing adaptability and regenerative abilities of plants.
100.39h x 137.80w in
255h x 350w cm
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