THE SILVER MEDALLION
Charles Laib Bitton
Super Super Markt, Berlin
January 26 – February 19, 2023
THE SILVER MEDALLION doesn’t take its name in the literal sense: such as an accessory found in one or more of the paintings on view; but from the silver ground primer that Charles Laib Bitton’s canvases have been primed with. Up close, the works as he notes are like ‘Silver Medallions’. The primer – a silver mercury-like liquid that threads its way throughout this latest body of work – offers a nostalgic and ethereal quality to the paintings that were created in Florence from April to December of 2022, where he currently lives and works.
Charles is deeply concerned with the topic of intimacy. An intimacy in remembrance of personal moments captured with friends, family, and acquaintances that he has met in recent years. In the paintings Man with a Rollie and The Movie / Clara in Bed, we see subjects whose characters hold a sense of timelessness. They seem focused and yet at the same time, lost – deep in thought. The sitters are caught in a moment, oblivious to (or not interested in) the gaze of the viewer.
It is a type of ‘nakedness’ that the artist speaks of, as the inside of each subject's mind becomes exposed. He wishes to reclaim this true ‘natural state’ of the sitter – far from any kind of artifice. Since graduating from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, he’s spent the last year ruminating on exposing the humanity and soul of every character in his pictures. The body-language of the face, arms, eyes in these paintings spans recent years of enquiry.
His work is one of subtlety. The painterly language and colouring of each work is as important to the artist as the composition or subject matter itself. Each brush stroke speaks of time spent reflecting this in the studio.
In Brown Cat in a Brown Interior, these recent enquiries have borne snapshots of the artist’s interior life spent during lock-down – however, perhaps these vignettes offer a lighter tone: a snapshot of a sitcom-like setting. The cat staring at us from the floor, while the girl is watching a movie on her laptop. These are universal moments from our daily lives that we can all relate to. Whilst THE SILVER MEDALLION opens a door for us to step inside the living room of Charles’ life, we as the viewer are caught between an episodic feature of intimacy and imagination: One where the scene starts or ends: we cannot quite tell.