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Dialogue under an oak

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Catherine TARTANAC, painter

I didn't go towards painting, it came to me, it was there like one of those obvious things which are before our eyes, and whose importance we do not yet appreciate. Like a landscape towards which we walk, of which we only guess a few fragments at the beginning, then becomes clearer little by little as we progress; It gains momentum, it expands, and finally reveals itself in its entirety and its magnetic presence.

Painting is an Other, which accompanies my questions, my emotions, my chaotic and passionate relationships with the sacredness of life and its infinite reflections. I am an autodidact who has been drawing and painting since my childhood. My family includes several cabinet-makers (Nancy school), musicians and painters. For a long time, from the white of the canvas or the paper, I have posed my feelings, my sensations and my thoughts guided by a life impulse.

My favorite medium is oil, which I find so sensual, difficult, slow to work on often large format canvas. I mix, I add, I remove, I “cook” pigments and oils, sand and sometimes gold. From my painted canvases or my papers depths, lights, shadows, evidence of colors emerge freely.

I draw a lot of small series (lead, charcoal, stone, or inks) based on nature: plants, horizons, mountains, rocks, sea... but also based on frescoes or mythological, biblical paintings centered on the body and the human figure. I explore and collect the effects produced, movements, lines of flight, perspective, often only keeping a trace. In my studio, I have boxes filled with small “insignificant” things, drawings, paintings which take on a catalytic power in my work, or trigger my inspiration. I have my paths at the risk of the unknown, my implementation goes back and forth between imagination and reality of the material, failures, restarts and moments of grace.

Curious, I like to explore the new, associate, experiment. Defying confinement, I constantly scrutinize the imprint of the Infinite that surrounds us, “this mysterious feeling of a transcendence bursting into the natural order of the world in everyday life” (Jean BAZAINE Le temps de la Peinture). My artistic approach attempts to connect these complex levels: this link between the infinite that passes through us, the anxiety that it generates and at the same time the absolute necessity of its presence. Nothing is decided in advance, but it is this adventure that gives meaning to my work. I gradually moved from the still figurative landscape (1995) towards more abstraction. To give a metaphysical echo, I like the large format, the multiple (triptych, diptych, polyptych) which submerges the body.

For several years, intuitive figurative inclusions have been emerging on my canvases, I have been exploring painting on paper that I mount. From this vein came the series of murmurs and feelings, Giants, and the periodic table of the elements of life.

My influences are a wonderful weaving of heterogeneous threads. I love nature and the sky. I like painting, looking at it, and I like painters. Some touch and upset me, Bruegel, Goya, Klimt then Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Zao Wou-Ki, whose paintings reveal such a dazzling feeling of freedom. Manessier whose retrospective in 1992 at the Grand Palais in Paris was for me a founding shock, a revelation of the true power of painting: these immense canvases like trees of life, columns erected to the splendor and richness of the sensitive world , it's to put your knees on the ground. Music, and poetry which say without demonstrating the mysteries of the soul are essential to me.

Nicole DENOIT, ceramist

I like the “precise imprecision” of the formula that the poet Francis Ponge invented to explain the birth and placement of plants on the surface of the globe, namely a “law of determining indeterminates”.

It seems to me that the shapes that come out of my hands are born like this.

 Certainly, they are not all related to the vegetable domain, at least I never decide that. Some, in fact, are very mineral and speak to us of a raw earth, of a land of the beginning. 

The random shapes that I sculpt in the earth, I wear them tirelessly. From one work to another they repeat themselves while dissimilar, they echo each other with an obstinacy which could seem calculated, drawn and yet they are always unthought, improbable and yet necessary. I keep coming back to them without having decided. 

The shapes impose themselves on me and immediately become familiar to me. Very quickly, usually, I can give them a name. 

For these earthen sculptures, my preference often goes to stoneware firing which gives the enamels, at very high temperatures, the opportunity to reveal themselves by surprising me. At this stage again, predictability is enriched by the unexpected. 

Without the approach being systematic, I particularly like to rework certain pieces, re-enamel them, anneal them to see them evolve at the same time as me. I give them another life that suits me better at another time.

I often work from the perspective of interlocking, that is to say that certain shapes are designed and fired separately but with the perspective of a possible superposition, never imagined with precision but on the contrary delivered to the randomness of a inspiration then cooking which reduces the volumes and ultimately makes the balance risky, uncertain.

If I had to designate in my work the form that is most dear to me, I would choose the sculpture that I call “mobile”, that is to say the one that I can “undress” according to the seasons of the imagination, gradually remove all or certain parts balanced on a “minimal body”.

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