Invited by the choreographer Angelin Preljocaj to invent the scenography of the Jean-Baptiste Lully’s creation, inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Prune Nourry worked around the notions of hybridization, fractal, and rhizome, around the link between the infinitely small and the infinitely large, as well as the ritual, in collaboration with the French artist Jeanne Vicérial who designed the costumes.

She exhibits in the foyers of the Grand Théâtre de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland) three unseen artworks, on the occasion of the presentation of the baroque opera ballet Atys, from February 27th to March 10th 2022, as well as a set of new sculptures from artgenève, for a solo show on the GTG’s stand, from March 3rd to March 6th 2022.

For the Avant-Foyer of the theater, Nourry proposes two Masks of Fertility. In line with her previous bronze, terracotta and burnt wood sculptures, and inspired by African masks worn on the belly during the ceremonies to call fertility, the artist transcripts here these masks on a large scale (three meters high). Made by stucco with a trompe-l’oeil painting imitating wood, these new artworks play with the Grand Théâtre de Genève, which the walls are covered with trompe-l’oeil' materials, with the symbolism of the theatre. Stucco is, indeed, a material used since centuries for the decors and decorative sculptures, simulating the marble; here it imitates the wood, more precisely oak and beech species. Meanwhile, the mask is the theatrical artifice existing since the origins of theatre, both allowing to identify the character and to hide the actor interpretating his role, but it is also a ritual object, giving the possibility to a human being to speak for a god.

In the lyrical Foyer, Nourry presents Sangaride, a wood target on a tripod, pierced by three arrows. All the bow, the target and the arrows are a part of her work since 2019 with the Catharsis’ project. Influenced by the mythological figure of the Amazons, the huntresses’ women which the legend says that they cut off their right breast to be best archers, the artist has integrated these elements to her formal and esthetical vocabulary following a breast cancer. The Amazon embodies the liberty, the strength, the femininity; her scar defines her personality and makes her stronger. Directly related to the opera ballet, Nourry takes the name of one of the characters. Mythological figure, Sangaride is a nymph, daughter of Sangar, the Phrygia’s River, and lover of Atys. The artworks target their adventure: a tragic love story, and an ending as a wasteland. So, the three new sculptures, Masks of fertility and Sangaride, have been designed in situ for the Grand Théâtre de Genève, as part of Atys.

Simultaneously, at the ArtGenève fair, several artworks created by Nourry and inspired by her décor for the opera ballet will be exhibited for the very first time. Intitled Atys, these three large sculptures focus on the key time when the character turns into a tree, as the artist beloved concept of hybridization. Both vein network and tree branches, fractal shapes that we can find in different scales in the nature, these bronze artworks painted in trompe l’oeil are made from a well-known theater material, but which it is forbidden to speak about aloud within its walls: rope. Used to handle the decors by ancient sailors turned into machinists, the superstition came, since centuries, from boats to theaters.

She was also inspired by the famous “string theory”, which links the general relativity (gravity, the infinitely large) and the quantum mechanics (the infinitely small), through the 1960’s discovery of vibratory particles with string’s shapes. Moreover, the often used metaphor to describe it is that of choristers!


Atys - Portrait de Prune Nourry