We Are Always Under Construction

“Templum” by Francesca Lalanne

Here we are under confinement, one whose endless term continues to expand into the great unknown. As an art dealer who has been struggling to ascertain the when and how of our next one-woman exhibition of works by Francesca Lalanne, an intriguing Haitian-American artist living in Los Angeles, I find myself re-energized with hope and elation upon seeing her first series of paintings. People need to see this art! We’re going to find the way to do it right and safe.

Artists continue to amaze me, always staying one step ahead, somehow tapping into the issues that animate our current circumstances way before they hit us in the face. Francesca’s Under Construction I series of paintings was created five years ago. Using a combination of plaster, mesh, glitter, and ink on wood panels, she conceptualized the human body as sacred architectural space surrounded by Christ-like thorns to evoke our discomfort as we attempt to maintain or achieve a state of peace. Right on point, no?

Here we are, grounded in our homes — our concrete architectural environments — restricted in our movements; and I don’t know about you, but I have, at times, felt like I wanted to flee. A couple of weeks ago, I hit on the idea of a road trip and contacted two cousins and a friend — all of them in California — about visiting for a couple of days with each. I could already see myself on the road, listening to music or a book on tape, getting out of L.A., changing my tune. And then one of the three people got back to me, “You want to stay here?” She said. At that moment, I knew my trip didn’t make sense. Staying with friends meant the imposition of mask-wearing on them inside their own spaces. I wasn’t in the mood to stay in a hotel. The idea was to spend time together! I realized that I was tied to my home for the moment and would need to construct a new reality for myself.

The thing is that my home environment is lovely, no problem there. Dilemmas only ensue when we can’t get out of our heads. You can be at a party, with everyone around you dancing, eating, talking, and having a good time; but if you’re not feeling good inside of you, none of it matters.

I was fortunate to embark on a spiritual path at the age of 21, learning a meditation from my Indian teacher, Prem Rawat, that I continue to practice today. It saves my life all the time. Our turbulent minds never fail to reflect the tempestuous times in which we find ourselves. And it is ever incumbent upon us to find a way back to stillness, creating and recreating — constructing and reconstructing — the safe space within that will carry our always-evolving identities back to sanity.

I look forward to dialoguing with Francesca Lalanne about the state of affairs that inspired her work back then, and how, in such an awesome way, our current predicament is so presciently reflected in the same series of compositions. I will be recording my interviews with the artist about her gorgeous and striking paintings and works on metal, which manage to electrify and soothe at once, and will post them as they become available. The exhibition will officially open Saturday, September 26, 2020. More specifics and other sneak previews of work from the show to follow! @galerielakaye

Carine is the author of six fiction and nonfiction books, and a longtime contributor to Huffpost, writing on issues of lifestyle, the arts, politics, and more.