Marilou Bal

Marilou Bal
I made you up

11.9. – 4.10.2020

With support of Geneva Fonds cantonal d'art contemporain.


I was once told a tale of an English Lady who acquired a Renoir painting for her country estate.

I'm not currently in possession of any Renoirs, but I trust it cost a pretty penny. A friend came over

to the Lady's estate for afternoon tea and asked about the purchase, only to discover that the painting

was hung at knee-level, beneath a window, partially covered by a curtain. The friend found the Renoir lovely (as you do), but the peculiar hanging rendered her curious. Thankfully, she didn't remain bewildered for long, as the Lady simply explained: There was a hook!


Hooks are immensely useful for image-makers. If you've got a good hook, it will carry any painting.
A Renoir, a Bonnard, or a Marilou Bal. Marilou's hook is of the lacerating sort. Her hook is girlhood
fandom. Let it sit. I don't want to either, but here we are. Marilou's paintings are revealing.
Attractive, trivial, intense, anachronistic and somewhat embarrassing. Perhaps I'm projecting, but
anyone claiming projection is an irrelevant method for reading paintings is a dirty liar. The paintings in

I Made You Up will not be ignored. Their motifs are too insistant, too available, the skill with which they're executed is far too palpable, knowing and refined. The brushstrokes come off as rapid for an untrained eye. Dreamy, patchy blots of colour, hilariously close to a late, senile Monet, had he taken the technological development that made his outdoors studies possible into account so he could see the poor images of Paris. Faded excerpts of images made for commercial circulation, for reeling us in. I'm hooked.


While we were hanging the paintings, I stepped outdoors to admire them at a distance, only to find that they had transformed our gallery to an unstable beauty salon. A drastically made-up eye lazily judging me from a distance. Disdainful, disinterested and beautiful, it dragged me back, involuntarily, to my adolesence.

I remember those twins with the expertly applied matte lip makeup. I can't remember where excactly I saw them, but I suspect it was a rainy bus stop in the early naughties. The colour scheme like sunfaded printouts, unspecified yet expertedly stoking feelings of longing and inadequacy. Those brief visual prods presented everywhere, their potency based on their omnipresence, which sediments in our brains, like snippets of popular songs, like memes, like hooks.