Monthly Art Revue Artension
To see and love art today
For the N° 9, January February 2003 Paris
The movement of women in art
p. 12, 13

Translation: Ora Gaon and Tamar Brown


Never before has an artist so skilfully and
uninhibitedly rendered the female libido.
She erects it as the supreme flag of
feminism that is profoundly rooted
in the synthesized cosmopolitan culture.
                                  Michel Lequenne 1998


                                             ODY SABAN

   Since the very beginning of my painting, I have been interested in the expression of femininity and eroticism. I express simply what I know while exploring myself. For a long time, I have given an in depth expression to feminine eroticism in portraits of goddesses that I invented. I borrowed names from mythologies, rendering personal interpretations. I love the feminist slogan, ”A woman without a man, is like a fish without a bicycle,” because it means that a woman can live without a man and not lose her femininity. Also, because the image of fish united with a bicycle proposes an interesting challenge, for man and woman alike.
    Ever since I met Thomas, twelve years ago, I have had a burning desire to express our love and erotic relationship, which has not weakened with time. I embarked on a very abundant series of couples on the edge of the coitus.
Evidently, I changed our face and bodies because I don’t like to paint realistically. I showed embraces, loving and erotic at the same time. Strangely, these representations are extremely rare in today’s art. Since I have always been interested in contemporary erotic art, I know what I am talking about. I must confess that I ended up being a little disheartened by it, mainly because I have witnessed an uninterrupted charade of pervert fantasies. At best, the works called ‘erotic’, describe very unhappy situations that are hopeless and aggravating; as if the butterfly, the spice on the wings of love, needed to be heightened by acerbic, very bitter things, of non sexual circumstances that misrepresent and belittle tenderness and love.
   Nevertheless, I am far from pretending to be painting harmonious embraces.

Harmony, just like performance, doesn’t interest me. I am not trying to idealise life, far from it. That is why my couples are non-too perfect or very “successful“. On the contrary: they are awkward like all couples in love. They are too fused, or too timid, or too displaced, or too remote. I simply show the fragile moments that precede or follow the coitus. I pay careful attention to the expression of the hands, the eyes, the feet, and the kisses. Sex is represented, symbolically, larger than life. Some people (very symptomatically always men) were shocked (perhaps jealous?) by the size of the masculine sex. But, obviously and fortunately, it is not about real or imaginary penis. These are phalluses, symbols. As for the feminine sex, it occupies equal space in the pictures. It is not realistic either. It often takes on the form of flower streams or other mobile vegetations.
   In the history of art, art works by women are lacking. It is women and femininity as a whole, that interest me unconsciously and consciously.
   We know that men project their own sexuality on women: they reinvent the feminine, yet coming from a masculine. Women follow suit and accommodate. They think and adopt their own sexuality to men’s desire, expressed through the media, fashion engravings, erotic writings (notably the Museum of Eroticism in Paris), the fetishism, the rule of penetration and of the orgasm. What I show and express are, of course, totally different things.
   For me, the feminine difference is the original, not the derived, nor is it dependent on the masculine difference. I think man’s femininity is not that of the woman’s, because they don’t have the some sex, and socially, they don’t apprehend life’s circumstances the same way.
   In my creations, I work for a long time on the “jouissance” (transcendent bliss that is intrinsically self-shattering), then I added the man, the phallus (the sex as a symbol and the ‘jouissance’ of this symbol) that lies in the very precise end. I wanted to give a form to the woman, from the abstract form to the emotional form, from the symbolic to the narrative.
  I don’t think about orgies, as people may imagine but rather about the couple in other situations, just like in succession of scenes. I highlight the couple’s union, and introduce to the scene other people like children, fathers, mothers, families and friends. What I focus on is the crossing of love, feminism, psychoanalysis, different cultures…I assemble, synthesize, and weave the ties.
   My work must be read with a new eye, a new vision, another look that remains in an experimental path. It always contains an “if”. There is love, but there is eroticism. There is gentleness, but there is violence. There is woman, but there is man. There is family, but there is voyeurism or incest. There is ‘jouissance’, but there is perversity. There is heterosexuality, but there is homosexuality…
    There is human in his duality, in his quest for balance, just like in the kabala and the tree knowledge, but, above all, there is no attempt at mysticism.

When I fill up the whole artwork, as is the case especially in my drawings and watercolours, my intention is to express fullness; that of the unconsciousness of the feminine libido where there is always significance and it is freely expressed. That which escaped me becomes that which did not escape me. The significance of the insulted sex, the humiliated, or excessively adored woman at all times. That “black hole” that is man who had killed all the women doctors back in the middle-ages, understood nothing; neither politically and economically, nor philosophically for centuries. The vulva, that feminine sex, this void, with no form or definition! What is it?

We, all women, know what it is… So we are able to clarify it, name it, give it a form, to wholly express it, and make a definite, finite, precise, and stable space.

This is what I want to do in my paintings, with symbolism of the vulvas, with clear feminine form, with its so-called wholesome sex along with her lips, her uterus, her eggs, and her multiple pleasures.         

A sibyl mediating between Asia and Europe (…)
Ody’s is a combative art in so far as her
sexual hyperbole hastens the idea of a
sublime and anarchic love which may,
one day, take over the world.

Roger Cardinal, 2000