Body with body

“Between sky and earth, on grass, that is either red or blue,
there whirls a ton of muscle in complete disregard of himself”

“Body with body” is the title which Marine Assoumov gave to a series of oil paintings and drawings on Rugby. It is also the way in which the artist seized this topic, making countless studies to be impregnated with play and attitudes.

Started in 1995 at the time of the creation of a fresco on Rugby for Auterive, a small town in France South West, this fifteen years voyage inside Rugby led to hundreds of paintings, ink washes and collages. The set of themes of Rugby is so rich that the painter fears never to exhaust it…

So Marine Assoumov, between the two more abstract topics that are the “ruins” and the “mental landscapes”, goes back to to the human figure. A return to the “thriller” series?

Escaping the facility of nudes or naked bathers too often painted, Rugby provides her the pretext of showing bodies of men, all alone or tangled up.

The players of Rugby have essentially for Marine Assoumov a plastic interest where rhythm, movement, composition and color always have the best share.

The artist is fascinated by the vitality of this athletic sport which puts in scene garlands of powerful bodies, vertical with the key, horizontal in the fray, offering a large variety of compositions and formats to her, drawn-out or square. The rhythmic possibilities related to the effect of repetition of the blocks of body and the stripes of the shirts, the geometrical contrast of plunging, jumping, running or falling bodies, offer the painter an inexhaustible range of subjects.

Marine Assoumov enjoys herself with the irruption of the large numbers on the back of the players and the big letters of advertisements in the stadiums. The very colourful jerseys, shorts and socks, the powerful bodies seized or deprived in collective physical effort joy, lend themselves to all kinds of pictorial distorsions…

Embrace of the bodies, flashover of the colors which burst as often in Marine Assoumov paintings… Where starts, where finishes the player? Unextractable imbroglio where comes to be mislaid the eye of the visitor, for his greatest pleasure… Once more, in her figurative series, Marine Assoumov crosses light-heartedly over the limits of the abstraction.

Full-length portraits, close-up faces or bunches of players with imposing bodies, stretched like Byzantine figures. The enormous hands, clawed and greedy, are always ready to seize a balloon, a player, or the glance of the spectator. The head, ovoid and smooth like the balloon, is often just a sign, a mask where the line of the eyebrows or the edge of the nose is comically sketched. When it is drawn, the open mouth howls the effort, with accents near expressionnism. Coloured head-bands put rhythm into coppered faces…

The works of the series, oils or collages, are created starting from drawings whithout any indication of color or value, sketches taken from life and piled up in portfolios in Marine’s studio. After a progressive maturation and a rebuilding by the work of memory, the paintings are slowly elaborated, in opposition to the ink washes where the passion of the artist for the fast line is expressed. Collages leave more place to chance (accident), where thick black lines, ochre or gray washes mix with coloured gouache and torn out paper whose fragments parcel out the white surfaces.

With her work on “Rugby in body with body”, Marine Assoumov shows us a painting freed from anecdote, which “makes visible” by plastic means only, such as elliptic composition with broad surfaces of alive colors and sensitive matters. Humour and gaiety confer on these bodies a dynamic life. A presence.

Thierry Blanchon

Le joueur de rugby, peinture sur toile de Marine Assoumov