a woman under the influence
Henriette Zéphir (b. 1920) has, in her own words, devoted the past half-century to “the occult”. She was discovered in 1967 by Jean Dubuffet, who exhibited her work at the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, and wrote an article on her. She consistently refused every offer to buy her works ever since, until recently, when her “guides” began encouraging her to distribute their positive energy.
Spiritualist artists, once plentiful in Art Brut collections, are now rare and precious. Like her predecessors Fernand Desmoulin, Augustin Lesage, Madge Gill, and many others, Henriette Zéphir raises the eternal question of the significance of such creativity, particularly when it is not intended to be “art” as such, but rather to reveal the unfamiliar dimensions of a mysterious “elsewhere”… which may lie deep within every one of us. When such creators declare themselves to be mere instruments for their guiding powers, they are not simply downplaying their mastery of the creative process, but also echoing Dubuffet’s own thoughts on art: “its fi nest moments are when it forgets what it is called”.
The retrospective, entitled A woman under the influence, highlights the power, generosity, and beauty of Henriette Zéphir’s meandering lines of energy, inviting us to delve into the “elsewhere” and embark on a journey of exploration into our inner selves.
For half a century, French mediumistic artist Henriette Zéphir devoted herself entirely to her “inner guide”, for who she never stopped creating. Her drawings have us captivated in their singular overall composition, but also in the force of their details. Somewhere between pointillism, geometric abstraction and Fauvism, her work reflects an enlightened modernism. Discovered by Jean Dubuffet, as early as 1967 she was presented at the historical art brut exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Today, her work can be seen among the greatest collections of art brut in the world.
Preface : Alain Bouillet
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Henriette Zéphir : a woman under the influence, from february 4th to march 5th, 2011.
Co-published with éditions Le livre d’art, 2010.