Marta Gnyp for Zoo Magazine #32, 2011
French artist Myriam Mechita is fascinated by moments of transcendence: orgasm, intoxication, and the overwhelming combination of pleasure and pain. The word ‘ecstasy’ means going outside oneself, according to its Greek etymology. And this state of mind is essential for Mechita’s oeuvre.
The subjects she chooses in her work are often related to the state of transcendance: beheading, orgasm, decay—often presented in a highly elegant way. Using embroidered sequins, shiny latex, colorful textiles, embroidery and sculptural objects, Mechita creates her glamorous and mysterious universe.
Her murals are mostly clear blue and glittering, her ceramics are tactile, and her objects are carefully staged. Strange animals run headless through landscapes made from old wooden tables and skulls, or hide themselves in dark caves. Their bodies seem to form cosmic constellations that connect with something bigger, palpable, but invisible. The revelation of what art could mean came to Mechita in early childhood. She says an encounter with a reproduction of the painting, The Beheading of Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian (1438–1440) by Fra Angelico, possibly changed her life forever. While she was only six years old at that time, Mechita decided she wanted to be an artist.
She says wanted to be part of a realm of new possibilities, a realm where imagination can create a new language. “I don’t know if it was a matter of magic or something else. All of a sudden, creating art seemed to be the possibility to give birth to images I felt I had inside, the feelings I have been carrying with me all the time. And I could even see materials transforming themselves in front of me,” says Mechita. “It was proof that there exists a world of strangeness and depth I couldn’t imagine before. I wanted to speak this new language and experience the space and time in this new realm.” It is interesting that an image of the decapitation, above all else, made such an enormous impression on the young Mechita. It remained in her memory, and has formed a thread that can be found in her work even today.
The headless represents the anti-rational, the instinctive, and the uncontrolled human being. The same anti-rationality could apply to Mechita’s headless human figures.
Recently, the artist created a series of embroideries using industrially produced textiles or delicate silk. She combined the wallpaper-like pattern of the textiles with the seemingly old, and easily recognizable embroidered images of monks or dames, which appear to have been carefully copied from illuminated manuscripts, except that they are headless. Or more precisely, the head is replaced by golden, yellow and red flames.
“The fire is coming out of the head; it is the right way to show the energy,” says Mechita. “I feel that I am in a period in which the energy needs to come out.”