Le Marteau sans maître, or The Masterless Hammer, Batoeva’s third exhibition with Nicodim, is a series of drawings and paintings which, like the Pierre Boulez composition and René Char poems that inspired them, celebrate the journey of a once-emancipated psychic dissonance occasionally reined into harmony. Recycled, Brobdingnagian frames from the 80s reincarnate to house a series of small-scale, improvisationally arranged drawings that evoke Matisse on a bender and provide blueprints for the paintings. The figures on paper are the vocabulary from which the canvases are composed: the two loosely constructed, Klimt-ian figures in the forefront of “Lonely woman,” 2021, are vibrant embodiments of the monochrome drawings, their blues and yellows taunt a solitary figure as it slowly emerges from the underpainting; “Le coeur encore,” 2021, repurposes selected drawn forms and breathes the intentioned spontaneity of Albert Oehlen into a woman pondering a shattered, bright-red heart as it melts and decomposes on a pedestal.

If these works are not the sign of love, then they are at least avatars of the artist as the Other in her struggle to experience it. Says Batoeva: “I am on equal terms with the painting. It speaks, I speak back, it can be silent or in a deadlock for months, meanwhile I have changed, read something new, found a new set of tools to respond. The painting itself has also changed in that time. I see it differently. It is a love affair and fight.”

Date: March 18 — May 12021