& Jose Leonilson, essai critique, 2021

Georgia René-Worms is the sixth recipient of the grant for the writing and publication of a critical essay, which was created in 2016 as part of a collaboration between the Institut français, the Institut national d’histoire de l’art and Critique d’art. The grant is allocated following a yearly call for applications and enables its recipients to travel to one or more art events and to critically analyse them in an article. It is part of a wider programme that supports writing on contemporary art and its international dissemination, which was initiated by the Institut Français in the field of visual arts, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture’s Direction générale de la création artistique. This programme has allowed them, together with the INHA, to set up various measures promoting researcher and art critic mobility, the circulation of their ideas and the translation of their writings.

In this essay, Georgia René-Worms recounts her discovery of Brazilian artist José Leonilson, who was born in 1957
and who died of AIDS in 1993. Beyond the narrative, the personal tone chosen by Georgia René-Worms is that of a writing of art, inasmuch as the author considers her research as based on life experiences, at the intersection of her private life and her work. During the winter when she first came across the work of José Leonilson, she was diagnosed with a hormone dependent disease. She explored the possibility of creating a body of works – not based on scientific literature – to address the history of diseased bodies in an emancipatory gesture, by using her own tools: those of art. Her approach aims at making these bodies proud and visible. Here, she analyses the way in which Leonilson’s work resonates with her own original way of doing research. Georgia René-Worms reveals the chance connections and successful parallels which were part of her encounters with José Léonilson’s work, and demonstrates how the artist’s tired, contagious, dangerous body shaped his work.

Juliette Trey, Deputy Director of Studies and Research, INHA
Adeline Blanchard, Head of Visual Arts Projects, Department of Artistic Development and Cooperation, Institut Français