First published: Summer 2022
Philippe Ducollet-Michaëlef’s ink-drawn virgins are visceral, violent and sexual, and provide protection from his torments.
A woman, brandishing two curved knives, stares angrily out at us. Two other arms are holding the torso of a an upside down, his legs still inside her vulva. Is she expelling this runt? Has she emasculated him? Is she planning to re-invaginate him? Flames extend her dress. Snakes and skulls adorn her headdress and shoulders. A heavy necklace tops her bosom. A skull and crossbones, like spliced fragments, complete the design. The holes in the woman’s four hands, and her throat lacerated with a cross, indicate religious imagery, intense symbolism in any case.
Ducollet-Michaëlef at home in 2022, photo: Philippe Lespinasse
In 2021, artist Philippe Ducollet-Michaëlef donated 200 of his ink drawings to the Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne; 200 different, iterative "virgins", whose motifs, symbols, details and ornamentation vary, constituting a powerfully hypnotic whole. Small figures seek flight from the wrath of the half-naked icon. Not smart to hang around here. We will be caught for the mistakes we have made. Another of the Pietàs holds two snakes. A hemmed vagina pierces the dress. Oozing over a man's decapitated head. Crucified bodies, a tumescent rod and more flames (hooks, blades, spikes?) festoon the figure.
Etruscan Virgins, 2006–2020, graphite pencil, Indian ink, coloured pencil and felt pen on paper, 11.5 x 16.5 in. / 29,7 x 42 cm, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
Ornamental, referential: Ducollet-Michaëlef's overkill virgins could seem uberkitsch. But no. The lacerations add to the delicacy of this chorus of vengeful women. The softness of the line, the slight tremble. The penned highlights. The shadows in the wash. The modesty of the media. A gracefulness. The feeling, too, of reading someone’s personal notebook, a glimpse into the depths of a burned-out man, on the edge of the abyss.
By PHILIPPE LESPINASSE
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #111