The Comitted naiveties of Carina Barone

The Committed Naiveties

Limousin offers us a beautiful event, in this summer period, with its 8th Biennale d’Arts Naïf et Singulier. Located in the magnificent Halle au Grains in Saint-Junien, the exhibition of paintings is superb and the paintings benefit from a particularly successful hanging. The quality of the ensemble goes to the talented painter Annie Courtiaud, who was the artistic director of the event and created the poster. Two of the paintings on display particularly caught my attention, both signed by Carina Barone, an artist whose singular career I have followed for several years.

I had already had the opportunity to write on his painting “Les enfants dans les arbres” (Children in the trees), a superb large-format composition that I find happily in Saint-Junien. “Who would have dared to tell the story of these Jewish children who took refuge in a boarding school and were saved by the righteous who hid them in baskets hung in the trees? Everything is there: the little black men representing organized crime up to the genocide, the hieratic heroism of the righteous, the children who will be miraculously saved, but also and above all the painter’s bias which, in a radical way, chose to base his ethics and his conception of the world on hope. Today I add the word “political” or “committed” to this work of Carina Barone because it seems that she did not choose her subject simply on a blow of heart, an emotion, an empathy, and not only to bring her stone to a duty of memory, but well to influence the present, to show the way, to denounce the evil by affirming her joyful faith in the future.

Naive art is not customary to hot subjects. But Carina Barone has a genius of her own to approach them without fear or complexity in order to share the light and hope they contain with the general public.

This is what is happening again with his “Dodo Sauvé des chiens blancs” displayed in Saint-Junien alongside the “children in the trees”. This painting is a real pictorial shock, both in its composition and its subject. Once again a tree but this time sheltering black men, women and children of terrible white dogs who, by the will of the painter, without a doubt possible, will never manage to devour them. At the very top of the tree, a big bird looking at its young bird coming out of the egg held in its hand by a little girl. The famous Dodo, still today the emblem of Mauritius, and which did not survive the colonization of the island. The bird disappeared at the beginning of the 18th century but the story that Carina Barone chooses to tell us is one that repairs misfortune and injustice. The settlers certainly wreaked havoc, committed horrors without name. They are these white dogs on a dark background, eager for blood, with medieval ferocity. But they never managed to exterminate the black people or to subdue their souls. The escaped slaves, the neg’marrons, have not all been caught. They took refuge in the mountains and in inaccessible tropical trees and gave birth to free men. The Dodo isn’t dead and he’s made cubs. Carina Barone offers us a magnificent song of revolt and freedom to the glory of the black people and all the oppressed. A painting full of humanity against racism and stupidity, and which speaks to all eyes and hearts. The work of a master. “Children in the trees” and “Sleeping saved from white dogs”, two naive paintings by Carina Barone. Percutant, unexpected. To come and admire in Saint-Junien.

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