"Blue Spill". Isabelle Cornaro

Subterranean, 2017

from 7 October 2018 to to 27 January 2019

Curator: Sandra Patron

For her first solo exhibition in a French museum, Isabelle Cornaro has taken over both floors of the MRAC Occitanie (Regional Museum of Contemporary Art) with Blue Spill, a project that has been specifically conceived for the venue. This invitation offers her the occasion to develop the organic links between her filming method and her pictorial and sculptural techniques.

Over the past fifteen years, Isabelle Cornaro has explored the relationship between an object and its image, the original and its copy, in her quest for the deconstruction of visual archetypes. An art historian by training, specialised in 16th century European Mannerism, Isabelle Cornaro draws inspiration from a vast field of artistic references, from the Baroque to the abstract, as well as minimalism.

Her work is based on a mastery of collage which uses images and objects stemming from both scholarly and popular cultures. The artist explores the way in which these images and objects, always historically
and culturally defined, influence our perception of the world. The Chinese vases, vintage jewels and Persian carpets that the artist gleans from flea markets, all refer to a popular culture that makes use of the iconography of luxury to produce objects that are accessible to everyone. These objects embody a potential which is as emotional as it is symbolic: they are extensions of ourselves, but also products
of a Western capitalist domination over the rest of the world. Once collected, these objects are then arranged by the artist to serve as the foundation of an artistic process that expresses itself through film
as well as painting and sculpture.

For her first exhibition in a French museum, Isabelle Cornaro has taken over both floors of the MRAC Occitanie with Blue Spill, a project that has been specifically conceived for the venue. This invitation offers her the occasion to develop the organic links between her filming method and her pictorial and sculptural techniques. The exhibition establishes a dialogue between recent pieces and new productions, as well as between her own work and that of filmmakers, publicists and popular scientists. Film, and cinematography, through their relationship with images, colour and objects, has always been an inspiration for the artist, but in the Blue Spill project Isabelle Cornaro intensifies this relationship in a perambulation which is both mental and physical. Moreover, the title of the exhibition makes reference to the world of cinema since it makes explicit use of a technical term (Blue Spill is a colour seepage that can appear in the hair of an actor placed in front of a blue chroma-key screen) and calls back implicitly to the title of David Lynch’s neo-noir film.

On the ground floor, Isabelle Cornaro presents a selection of her latest films in which she uses cinematographic techniques akin to the structural films of the 1960’s: syncopated editing or slow travelling shots that slide over the surface of cleverly-staged objects. The act of watching is reconstructed through several films shot in 16 mm and then transferred onto a digital medium. In their saturated use of colours, in their distortion of scales, the films place these familiar objects at a distance and push them towards abstraction, giving them a fetish-like and sensual dimension. Bathed in garish colours, at the same time seductive and repulsive, these familiar objects remind us of their true nature; trinkets of no value, except perhaps that of our shared emotions.

On this same floor, Isabelle Cornaro presents a dialogue between her own films and a selection of film excerpts found on the internet: popular science films, commercials or gore movies from the 1960’s.
These films share a common origin -- a mainstream entertainment culture that transforms objects into fetishes, using a gestural language and framing that are voluntarily excessive. Something almost unhealthy emerges from this obsessive relationship with objects; something close to abhorrent, which is linked to the decomposition and the objectification of the subject. As in Cornaro’s own films, the
cinematic grammar is very simple here: long fixed or simple panoramic shots, made vibrant through expressionist light effects, bringing to light the obsessive and even concupiscent nature of our scrutiny.

On the upper floor, Isabelle Cornaro presents a series of paintings -- both reproductions and enlargements of images taken from her films. In these spray paintings, made by projecting pigments onto the surface of the film, the artist deconstructs the animated image to produce a series of stills. In contrast with the digital colour generated by the films, these works are material projections of colour, creating a sensitive rendering which endows them with an immediate seductive appeal, a perceptual effect of disturbing beauty. Keeping the 16/9 aspect ratio of the film image, the spray paintings are displayed side-by-side, and arranged edge-to-edge, visually reproducing the scrolling images of a video editing system. The spray creates fuzziness, an absence of focus that dissolves and numbs the image, making it almost abstract, producing parallels with both the pointillism cherished by the impressionists and the pixelisation of digital images. This ambiguity between an object and its reproduction as an image is intensified by a series of enigmatic monoliths displayed face-to-face. Also covered with spray paint, they create a spatial oscillation that is just as much retinal as it is conceptual.

Between abstraction and portrayal, moving images and freeze-frames, Blue Spill presents us with a immersion into a singular universe, where the border between object and subject is constantly being reconfigured, where eroticism mingles with gore, seduction borders on repulsion, and formalism mixes with emotions.

Isabelle Cornaro (born in 1974, living and working in Paris and Geneva) has displayed her work in France and abroad in numerous collective exhibitions, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2018), at the Palais de Tokyo (2017), at the Centre Pompidou (2016), the Louvre Museum (2015) as well as the High Line in New York (2015). Her work has also been the subject of several notable solo exhibitions, at La Verrière- Fondation Hermès in Brussels (2017), at the South London Gallery (2015), at M-Museum Leuven (2014), at the Kunsthalle in Bern (2013), at the Frac Aquitaine (2012), the National Centre of Arts and Cultures Le Magasin in Grenoble (2012) and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2009). Isabelle Cornaro was awarded the Ricard Foundation prize in 2010 and the Rothschild Foundation prize in 2012. Her work is represented in Paris by the Balice Hertling Gallery, in Zurich by Galerie Francesca Pia and in Los Angeles by the Hannah Hoffman Gallery.

Press pack EN Isabelle Cornaro Blue Spill Mrac 2018



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Situated at the heart of Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée in the town of Sérignan, close to the Mediterranean Sea, the regional Museum of contemporary art is a must-see cultural and tourist attraction. There are temporary exhibitions and permanent collections amply accommodated in some 2,700 m² of floor space. The different areas of the museum offer visitors the chance to see a rich and varied range of exhibits in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Facilities include an exhibition room of graphic arts, exhibition areas, a video room, a reading room, a gift and bookshop. Activities are also organised throughout the year for different groups of people.


The exhibition collection at the regional Museum of contemporary art of Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée comprises paintings, photographic images, sculptures and installations which offer visitors an insight into the most creative period for contemporary art during the 1960’s. Several extensive collections of work emphasise certain periods in the history of art such as Abstract Landscapes, Supports/Surfaces, Figurative and Narrative Art, Conceptual art, and the present day artistic scene. Once a year, the museum refreshes its exhibitions to highlight its latest acquisitions and offer new layouts to visitors.


The museum is housed in an old winery and was inaugurated in September 2006. One area on the ground floor is dedicated to experimental works while upstairs, generously spacious exhibition rooms are bathed in natural light. There is a graphic art exhibition which is almost a museum in itself, presenting a collection of paper-based work in a softly-lit environment.
Throughout the museum, the artist, Daniel Buren, has placed coloured panels in all the windows as part of his work entitled “Rotation”. This creates visual effects both inside and outside the building. There is also, “Les Femmes fatales”, a large ceramic fresco created by Erró which is exposed on the external walls of the museum.
The bookshop stocks a large range of monographies, exhibition catalogues, books published by artists, first editions, theoretical essays as well as a range of DVD’s on contemporary art and design and architecture or on the work of specific artists. There is also a children’s area containing a unique selection of children’s books and educational games.

BANDES À PART. New collection display

Until June 02 june 2019

Curator: Sandra Patron

Neil Beloufa, Christophe Berdaguer & Marie Péjus, Karina Bisch, Pierre Bismuth, Sylvie Blocher, Daniel Buren, Valentin Carron, Noël Dolla, documentation céline duval, Jean Dupuy, Éléonore False, Günther
Förg, Lina Jabbour, Ann Veronica Janssens, Pierre Leguillon, Matt Mullican, Vik Muniz, Daniel Otero Torres, Bruno Peinado, Pascal Pinaud, Lucy Skaer, Niels Trannois, Tatiana Trouvé, Claude Viallat, Ian Wallace, Ian Wilson.

Soundtrack artists: Laëtitia Badaut Haussmann, Julie Béna, Thomas Clerc, It’s Our Playground, Arnaud Maguet, Anne-Laure Sacriste, Yoan Sorin.

For the display of its collection, the Mrac has commissioned seven soundtracks by seven artists for visitors to listen to as they stroll through the seven rooms dedicated to its collection. These soundtracks are made available to visitors via a QR code for the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition Bandes à part is named after Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Band of Outsiders”. Borrowing this title sets the scene and maps out what this exhibition is all about. Godard developed a relationship with soundtracks that was completely unique within the history of cinema: often disruptive, yet sometimes musical, soundtracks in Godard’s films switch between deafening silence, musical classics, political tracts, street noise, a disconnect between what you see and what you hear, and brusque or melancholic voiceovers. They often create distortion between sounds and images, offbeats, contradictions, discord, interference, frenzy and lyricism.

Each display room has been designed to showcase the Mrac’s new 2017 acquisitions, in a dialogue with the historical collection and the collection loaned by the Cnap (170 works of art loaned for five years from May 2016). Each room has also been carefully thought out with the artist invited to produce the soundtrack in mind. As a result, the display is, therefore, an address to each of these artists.

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2015, La Région Languedoc Roussillon Midi Pyrénées