Virginie Roux-Cassé at Galerie Chappe

Personal notes, with reference to course themes of time and/or place:

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Virginie Roux-Cassé. Le Canard qui regardait son enfant partir vers l’avenir (The Duck watches his child swim off toward the future) Collage. (2017) / The title for this piece is great, because it situates the inflatable duck as a key figure in the scene. In addition to the man swimming away from the beheaded female figure and duck (itself reminiscent of a child’s first bath toy, a rubber ducky), we imagine swimmer as a strong, young man moving away from the comfort objects and relationships of home and childhood toward deeper, perhaps murkier, waters (as suggested by his shadow reflected on the bottom of the pool).

Recently, I visited a small exposition by French visual artist Virginie Roux-Cassé [accessed 20/07/2017] at Galerie Chappe. The exposition, “Eau fil de l’Eau” (a play on words from a phrase meaning “continuous flow” or “with the flow”) comprised a series of medium to large-scale mosaic-style collages. Initially, the work drew me in because there is something quite striking and mysterious about the effect of the images from afar. There is something very impressionistic about them, a lack of detail in the shapes and forms, perhaps, that contrasts neatly with the realistic photographic details, as we discover only at close range, within each mosaic piece.

Roux-Cassé was happy to speak about her process, which–after years of painting and sculpting–involved tearing up the thick, glossy pages of Vogue (and only Vogue!) magazines before organizing the pieces into mostly color and some texture (hair, water, for example) categories. Then, without planning or sketching up compositions, she would simply begin gluing bits of colored paper to a canvas and follow her inspiration through completion.

The result is a series of dream-like, highly interpretive tableaux that draw the viewer into a world caught between between impressionism (the representation of light and shadow through colors made me think of the Pointillists of the Impressionistic era) and realism (the fact that all the colors are taken from photographic representations, and so their look recalls the palette and texture of the world we live in). It’s the like the objects and figures in the paintings were caught in a moment of uncertainty about what they are or where they belong.

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Roux-cassé in her studio.

Roux-Cassé was happy to speak about her process, which–after years of painting and sculpting–involved tearing up the thick, glossy pages of Vogue (andonly Vogue!) magazines before organizing the pieces into mostly color and some texture (hair, water, for example) categories. Then, without planning or sketching up compositions, she would simply begin gluing bits of colored paper to a canvas and follow her inspiration through completion.

The result is a series of dream-like, highly interpretive tableaux that draw the viewer into a world caught between between impressionism (the representation of light and shadow through colors made me think of the Pointillists of the Impressionistic era) and realism (the fact that all the colors are taken from photographic representations, and so their look recalls the palette and texture of the world we live in). It’s the like the objects and figures in the paintings were caught in a moment of uncertainty about what they are or where they belong.

I was particularly moved by the figurative works, allowing myself to get drawn into the details of a man or woman’s (sometimes the gender, too, wasn’t clear) expression, gestures and surroundings. I was fascinated by the way it seemed like the figures themselves don’t know if they’re being caught (as if frozen in time) in a candid moment (as in real life) or posing for a painter or acting out a scene (as if involved in the process of art-making). Something about the different works seems to exist beyond chronological time; I think this effect is created by the poetic juxtaposition of images composed of photographic elements–which makes them seem at once true-to-life and alive–and yet the details and forms (for example, eyes are represented by a thick black line, or two black circles) lack realistic details, and so refer back to their ultimate flatness, their two-dimensionality. Additionally, some of the details (for example, a dress or hairdo or posture) evoke the (occasionally surreal) past, while the colors, drawn from glossy, contemporary magazines, evoke the present, or even a larger-than-lifeness (thanks to today’s photo-editing tools and fantastic print quality).

 

It was interesting to speak to Roux-cassé about her own interpretations of the work; she really spoke about the characters in the works as if they had lives and identities of their own, separate from the idea of any artistic intention and impossible for her to define.

I definitely feel inspired by her approach and would like to try integrating this technique in my own practice.

 

 

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