ALIZÉE GAZEAU, HÄUTUNG
EN DIRECT / Exposition Alizée Gazeau, Häutung, jusqu’au 05 février 2023, Gr_und, Berlin
An End to a Sentence, une conversation entre Alizée Gazeau et Lisa Deml
avec le soutien de l’Institut Français
Lisa Deml: The impression that settled on my mind when I first came to see this series of painting in your studio was that of maturity. To me, these paintings are a very clear and condensed expression of different lines of thought and experimentation that you have been following for several years. They seem to have grown through practice and now coincide with your first solo exhibition. How is this exhibition situated in your artistic development, what does it mean to mark this point in time?
Alizée Gazeau: I consider this exhibition as an opportunity to end a first sentence. I invoke the notion of a sentence, but you could also say it marks the end of a first journey. My work is concerned with process itself and I have the feeling that I could develop the same idea further indefinitely. In this sense, the exhibition at gr_und is also a challenge for me to put an end to this process. Even though I would never say that this process is finished, I have reached a point when I can let it settle down and let go. When the work enters into an exhibition space, it does not belong to me anymore, it is not about me anymore—the work has to speak for itself, as Louise Bourgeois would insist. She says that an artwork has nothing to do with the artist; it has to stand for itself. I find this credo helpful to navigate the tension between the intimacy inherent in artworks and the extrovert nature of exhibitions.
This is not only your first solo exhibition but also the first time that you work in painting and to this scale. How did you arrive at this discipline and format of 200×300 cm? Would you say that it is the result of a measure of trust and confidence you have gained in the process?
I felt the need to not only engage the hand and the eye in the work process but to involve the whole body. It is a very physical process as I work on the floor and pull and place the hammock and the net on the canvas. And it is not only a physical experience for me in the production process but also for the viewer in front of the paintings. I wanted the paintings to be bigger than us, so that they create an immersive sensation that exceeds the human body.
Given the expansive format of these paintings, how do you approach the canvas to begin with?
The paintings make me as much as I make them. It is a conversation between me and the various materials involved in the process, the canvas, the net, the hammock, colour and water. With these components, I create an environment, a framework within which the painting can emerge. Of course, the work process is different with every painting, there are different layers and rhythms at play each time. But what characterises my process is that I organise a situation on canvas and then leave the studio while the painting takes form. I return to it when everything has dried and I can remove the hammock and net to discover how they have impressed themselves on the surface. I very much enjoy this moment of revelation because it is often surprising. It is almost like a laboratory where I arrange the experimental setup and observe how it develops on its own. It is a delicate balance between controlling and letting go. While the first part of the work process is determined by my decisions and choices, the second part is beyond my command. So, even though this series of works are undeniably paintings, I would not call myself a painter.
What I find remarkable about your artistic practice is that all the components and materials that are involved in the production process retain a certain degree of agency and autonomy. This becomes most pronounced in the way in which you interact with the surface of the canvas. I know that you have given much thought to the notion of the surface—could you talk about what the surface is to you?
Of course, factually, paintings are two-dimensional, they have a flat surface. But I try to expand this understanding and to experiment with a sense of depth in my paintings. I want to create a sensation of the paintings coming towards you as you face them and dive into them. To me, this is also a reflection on what it takes to be an artist. At some point, I questioned myself and whether I am ready to be an artist or not. And an answer to this question is related to being ready to dive, to venture beyond the surface, and to confront memories and feelings of doubt and darkness. Producing these paintings was an almost physical experience of diving in and resurfacing to catch my breath. I think of these paintings as permeable surfaces. In a metaphorical way, they are questioning the idea of the skin, which is exposing you to the world at the same time as it is protecting you from it. To some extent, producing and showing paintings could be considered a healing process, not only for the artist but also for the people seeing them, as an instance of taking care.
en ligne : https://alizeegazeau.com