FRENCH surrealist Adeline de Monseignat is prolific. Not content with enrolling for a Masters in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Arts School, she has taken up the invitation of exhibition curator and fellow French export Samia Calbayrac to mount a two-week exhibition in the Norman Rea Gallery, at Langwith College, on the University of York campus.

Education cuts may be biting, but do not be alarmed by the sight of peeling paper on one of the gallery walls. It is a 2010 work by Adeline entitled Paper Over Cracks/Truth Revealed, an exploding womb of an installation incorporating lining paper, fabric, plaster, cement, ceramic and coffee.

This is indeed one of those vibrant “I Was There” exhibitions that has you waking up and smelling the coffee.

Nothing is quite as it seems on the surface, and that’s the point as the key motif of this show is the egg. Hence the exhibition title of Reveal The Tension, because if you crack an egg you will indeed reveal the tension that has bound it together.

Monaco-born Adeline is exhibiting a profusion of etchings, drawings, paintings, sculptures and site-specific installations that focuses on the theme of tension while “challenging and exploring the Grid, the Cut, the Body and the Absurd”.

“The practice of ‘art making’ is first and foremost one of a great release of tension and Adeline aims to bring to light that feeling and its process to the viewer,” says Samia.

“For Adeline, the spectator also has a crucial role to fulfil, as the message of art would get lost without any receiver at the other end. Taking into account Marcel Duchamp’s statement ‘Art is not what we see; it is in the spaces between’, it becomes clear that the work of art is the perfect mediator between the artist’s intention and the viewer’s experience.”

This is taken to its ultimate conclusion in the final work, a coffin full of broken egg shells. Unlike Ai Weiwei’s exhibition of fake sunflower seeds at Tate Modern in London, where the viewer is now forbad from walking on the work, Adeline is encouraging you to crush the shells until they become dust.

That will be the ultimate journey from birth to death, as symbolised by an egg in an exhibition that also invites you to discover Paint Sandwiches and consider the themes of gender, femininity and fertility and the vulnerability of the human flesh and skin.

• Adeline de Monseignat, Reveal The Tension, The Grid, The Cut, The Body And The Absurd, Norman Rea Gallery, Langwith College, University of York, until February 4.