MELANCHOLIA: Marion Colomer & Dana El-Masri


One of the most enjoyable aspects of what I do is the matchmaking—not of the romantic variety, but the artistic one. When DC-based French artist, Marion Colomer, contacted me about her latest project, Melancholia, I immediately thought of NYC-based perfumer, Dana El-Masri. Both were talented young women who shared, in my view, a similar approach to their creative work: one that is at once both romantic and refreshingly fearless. I was looking forward to what they come up with!


That combination is reflected in Colomer’s statement about her work, that its focus is the paradox. With that, her series Melancholia attempts to capture the paradox visually with a series of nude figures in lush jungle settings. While these surroundings are rendered verdant with deep saturated colors, the figures are depicted monochromatically with fragile pencil lines. So while the figures often occupy the foreground, they seem to recede back and disappear into their surroundings. This forces the viewer to get closer, revealing the rather erotic nature of these figures, and casting the viewer in a transgressive voyeuristic light. This intimate effect is heightened by the presentation of the work: one enters the space though a fragrant curtain of raffia strands to find the work lit, frameless, against a black backdrop.


Fittingly, Colomer states that her series starts with the paradox of a scent, “a perfume that would for some people smell like an exotic flower, a fragrance of a lost paradise, while others that experience this effluvia would behold something dangerous, a moist smell of soil decomposition.” El-Masri renders this brief smartly. Her “wet earth scent” opens, innocently enough and as promised, with a green damp earth accord. But the scent soon takes on darker aspects: not the darkness of animalic notes or patchouli, but the counter-intuitive darkness of toxic synthetic fumes. Recall the scent of opening the packet of a cheap plastic tablecloth or shower-curtain: that volatile, almost threatening, but also seductive glue-like odor? There is something unsettling, but also refreshing, about this incongruence—the natural vs. the synthetic, the colorful vs. the melancholic—which makes Colomer and El-Masri’s work that most seductive of things: human.


Melancholia is on view at the Arlington Art Center until December 18, 2016.

(Text by Ashraf Osman)

“Fragrance artist Anicka Yi wins major art prize”(via Dazed)

The conceptual artist, who makes sculptures out of smell, has won the Hugo Boss Art Prize 2016


Contemporary art is littered with examples of artists who have created work out of unusual materials: Damien Hirst used pickled animals, Marc Quinn used his own blood and Helmut Lang used 6,000 pieces of his archive – shredded – but the winner of the 20th Hugo Boss Art Prize employs something perhaps even more unorthodox: smell.

South Korean artist Anicka Yi, who works predominantly with fragrance, makes art that can be enjoyed by our sense of smell, as well as sight. “Smell is a form of sculpture, because it has a lot of volume,” she is noted to have said. Her works include That Fork Feels Good Sliding in My Mouth which comprises of a canvas made from a scented soap.

In winning the Hugo Boss Art Prize 2016, Yi not only receives the hefty sum of $100,000 but also gets the opportunity to stage a solo exhibition at major New York gallery, the Guggenheim. Opening in April of next year, the exhibition will be the artist’s first big show on US soil. . .

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NEZ la revue olfactive, the Olfactory Magazine

Ever since the indefinite hiatus of ODOU magazine last year, there’s been a gaping vacancy for a magazine dedicated to the sense of smell. NEZ la revue olfactive is a valiant new effort from France which attempts to fill this void with a gorgeously designed periodical. Its second issue will be released on October 20 and is currently available to order online. It will as well be available at points of sale in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland (Lausanne and Geneva). The first two issues are in French, but the hope is that it will be available in English eventually. NEZ is a collaboration between the online magazine and publisher The Counterpoint.