There, 2010

Drawing, 12 drawings: 50 x 70 cm each; 8 drawings: 50 x 65 cm each

In the winter of 2010, Anne-Lise Coste (Marseille, 1973) locked herself away for five days in order to evoke the five years she spent undergoing medical treatment during her adolescence. The result of this personal exorcism was a series of works that obsessively return to a single theme: the hospital architecture and cloistered atmosphere that remain rooted in the artist’s memory. In this series, as in other works by this New York-based French artist, the immediacy of the gesture of drawing combines a strong poetic sense with an element of social critique, in this case aimed at the management of illness and enclosed clinical spaces.

The title of the works (all the drawings in the series are entitled There) sums up the emotional component of the images, or their “thereness”. The drawings all depict the same setting: hospital architecture. Coste’s austere, angular lines and geometric forms recreate the hospital room, the bed, the crosses, the prison-like repetition of rooms and a tower outside with a brick chimney. The mood is cold and distant, but at the same time oppressive and harrowing. In some of the scenes, the artist includes self-representations among the scribbles and lines.

Although the drawings are a raw portrayal of a distressing experience, there is more to them than a personal reading. The series does not set out to record an episode in the artist’s life, and it does not call up specific fantasies. Rather, the emphasis is explicitly and radically placed on the reproduction of an experience in space: the room is not depicted as a personal, secluded space, but as an inhospitable place inhabited by inner murmurings.

Drawing is fundamental in the work of Anne-Lise Coste, as is the world of everyday life, which provides the raw material for her work. But in these hospital drawings, she forgoes the use of words: they do not need fragments of sentences or repeated words to convey their power. These self-portraits are an exercise in personal memory, and at the same time they critically address the way society deals with illness. In this sense, they tie in to many of Coste’s other works, which often draw on her childhood and the past in order to dismantle parental authority and reveal the limits of education. Her personal experiences give the artist the means through which to address universal themes.

Technical details

Original title:
Registration number:
Coste, Anne-Lise
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
Object type:
Pastel and pencil on paper
12 drawings: 50 x 70 cm each; 8 drawings: 50 x 65 cm each (height x width x depth)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
© Anne-Lis Coste
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Anne-Lise Coste "There", 2010
Anne-Lise Coste "There", 2010
Anne-Lise Coste "There", 2010
Anne-Lise Coste "There", 2010
Anne-Lise Coste "There", 2010