24 June 2009

Plume on canvas

Plume sur toile | Libération (presse_adp) {JPEG}

In Montpellier, the troop creates a show based around painting. Complex and accomplished.

Plume has turned to painting, a discipline that hadn’t been incorporated into the circus before. The troop, which is celebrating twenty five years in the business, has been showing its latest offering to Montpellier audiences since Monday as part of the 23rd Printemps des comédiens festival.
The show begins with a scene containing a canvas with its back to the audience and a recreation of a painting by Velasquez, ’Las Meninas’. ’It’s based on the article that Foucault wrote on the painting,’ explains Bernard Kudlak, director, who goes on to say: "By greeting the audience with this particular work, we are saying: "What you see on stage, that’s you. Isn’t Velasquez painting you?"
Illuminated, the face of the infanta seems to gaze out at the thousand spectators who are sitting on the benches watching Cirque Plume. The calm before the storm. Bernard Kudlak has conceived the Atelier du peintre (Artist’s studio) as "a journey into the mind of the artist". The artist in this case happens to be a painter, but it could also be a sculptor, both of them sharing an obsession to create a work of art.

Straps. Beneath the yellow big top, the Venus reflected in Velasquez’s mirror comes to life and brings the statue of Apollo to life. The Plume performers, some of them artists, some of them models, appear in a series of paintings which are either profoundly sad or extremely amusing. As they are drawn into the studio, the audience is invited to enter the mind of painter. And so we move from idleness, a source of inspiration, to madness and suffering, in an aerial strap routine performed by Antoine Nicaud that takes one’s breath away. Because according to the man who has been writing and directing the shows for Cirque Plume since it began, ’If suffering is not vital to the creative process, something akin to longing definitely is.’ It is that longing, that irresistible urge to paint, that made him break his vow never to take the plunge ’for fear of never being able to get out again.’
Bernard Kudlak hasn’t decided whether to paint or create ’live entertainment’. And he’s quite right: to please the senses, he combines both arts, as always to an original backing track by Robert Miny. ’Basically, the circus makes such a union possible, because of its immediacy, and after all what they both have in common is emotion,’ explains Kudlak.

Petals. Mystical Chelsea O’Brian suspended on her "kite", childlike Laura Smith flying off her trampoline like a butterfly amidst red petals, amazing Kristina Dniprenko on her German wheel, clowns and jugglers: the circus incorporates dance, comedy, music and magic. All of which is the hallmark of Plume, exaggerated plastic beauty.

’Perhaps the most complex show to create ,’ l’Atelier du peintre allows Plume to take another step into the unknown. ’Where are we going?’ Therein lies the question.

Aurélia Hillaire