The Geneva writer Fabienne Radi publishes an “Autobiography of Nina Childress” with the Beaux-Arts de Paris editions. It pays a tribute as funny as offbeat to this French artist who celebrates forty years of painting with a punk and pop spirit at the same time.
“I discovered her works during an exhibition at the Mamco in Geneva. I’m not too fond of painting, but I really loved this exhibition. So I went to the conference where she was presenting her work. And then I say to myself: not only is her work really great, but she is also brilliant!” Words by Fabienne Radi, Geneva author between literature and contemporary art. The object of his enthusiasm: Nina Childress, French artist, forty years of career and 1081 paintings gathered in a catalog in the shape of Ali Baba’s cave.
is an oiler of contemporary art. A girl who is fearless, like BB and Claudia Cardinale in a western not stung by beetles. His career began in the streets, in punk style, on the walls of New York or in Parisian squats with his band of boys, the Ripoulins, kings of nocturnal action, joyful happenings and colorful chaos.
The era – the 1980s – shakes up the usual codes of art, invents free figuration, lives a hundred miles an hour, is close to rock, graffiti and practices street-art with his American contemporary Keith Harring. When she’s not running the streets with her brushes, Nina Childress sings with the Parisian punk band Lucrate Milk.
>> To see: an Arte subject on the group Lucrate Milk by Nina Childress:
His painting at the time is ironic, colorful, cheeky, full of references to pop culture, from Pollux of the “Magic Roundabout” to Haribo sweets. We find it on the walls of her city, in the clips of Rita Mitsouko, in the pages of Actuel magazine and in galleries as spontaneous as they are ephemeral.
>> To see: Nina Childress, Pictures At An Exhibition. The Ripoulin Brothers Mach 2. Paris 1984
So much for the turning point of the 1980s and 1990s. In forty years, Nina Childress has gone through many periods and explorations ranging from blurry to fluorescent, from bad painting to hyperrealism, from the portrait of a child to the Sylvie Vartan or Sharon Stone series, from poverty to international recognition.
Today, there are many museums and art centers where his works are well hung. Nice revenge for an artist who never let go of her brushes, even when the art market shunned painting, considered old-fashioned next to conceptual installations. At the start of the next school year, it is at the Museum of Fine Arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds that we will also be able to find the paintings of Nina Childress.
An autobiography against a painting
But what is a Genevan writer growing up near the Friborg forests of Mont Gibloux doing in this urban and rock’n’roll life full of stains of oil or acrylic paint? “I told her that if she ever needed someone to write about her and her work, she could count on me,” says Fabienne Radi. Fan lyrics. And a deal concluded for the price of a painting.
Fabienne Radi writes a first catalog dedicated to Nina Childress and finally delivers today a second book as clever and delicious as her painting: a false true “Autobiography of Nina Childress”. The story can be read accompanied by its thick catalog raisonné entitled “1081 paintings”. It also devours itself, like a novel, between the rocker’s bio (Patti Smith or Viv Albertine des Slits way) and the quite edifying adventures of a girl who never gets discouraged in a world – that of contemporary art – at least as rough and macho as that of rock.
>> To listen: the subject of “Vertigo”
“An Autobiography of Nina Childress” is equipped with a QR code. If you read with your laptop in hand, you can constantly find the paintings of Nina Childress over the reading and deadpan commentaries by Fabienne Radi. A few chapter titles set the tone of this fascinating book, even if we only know paint as the dispersion to be spread with a roller: “playing doctor”, “acting crazy in a parade”, “I take my top off” , “go to Starcolor”, “know how to paint on anything” or even “the love of crusts”…
Impossible to miss this lively book by Fabienne Radi: Nina Childress poses on her pink cover in Venus kitchen outfit with a pot of sauerkraut as a cache-sex. Punk one day…
Fabienne Radi,Editions Beaux-Arts de Paris, 247 pages.