I will engage in this exercise, which is very delicate but at the same time interesting, namely to trace the course of my career, understand my chain of thoughts and the choices I’ve made. I would like, of course, to stress the fact that each artistic painting includes an incomprehensible part for the creator himself. It’s a bit like a dream according to Sigmund Freud. We can narrate it, analyze it without being able to break its hard-shell; something remains secret. For me this unbreakable hard-shell is the most precious one. In general, I am obsessed by two different concepts: waiting and aware contemplation. As long as I can remember myself painting or drawing, I have represented myself as a small person who is always waiting. I started doing this at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. I used to paint girls and boys often alone but accompanied by their demons.
I then left Paris and my habits, because for the first time, I had faced my “blank page”, a sort of panic in front of a painting: I didn’t know what or how to paint (these two aspects are intimately linked). It usually happens that at some point, one is faced with a feeling of satiety upon a subject. I had to leave Paris and experience something else; thus my ideas would flow back. This often happens on the path of an artist: lack of inspiration. One must know how to deal with it. It is perhaps the sum of my experiences, the techniques I have found in order to overcome these difficult but necessary moments that I would like to share with you.
So I spent three weeks completely alone and isolated in the countryside and I drew and painted directly inspired by nature. This return to reality, in contact with things, was very beneficial to me. When I say “contact with things” this means the feeling of the sun on things and of course on my skin at the same time. There was also this dimension of invigorated fight against the elements. I felt the need to measure myself against heat and cold; in other words to relocate myself at the exact opposite of the comfort zone of my workshop. This allowed me to bring out the essential, to be more constructive (due to the speed of movement and fast decision making when one leaves the studio). I sometimes painted houses, buildings… the ones I discovered in the countryside. A house is probably a symbol of protection, a kind of “home sweet home”, an ultimate imaginary refuge: the symbol of a safe and defined space.
After coming back from the countryside, I developed an interest for green color, for the plants. In Paris, we are faced with a different kind of “nature”: this is a saturated city, the trees don’t grow naturally; they are rather trees for urban use, useful trees, and a “conceptual nature” as Joseph Roth says. I then had fun spending time in parks, in artificial places or living to a minimum. Of course, I try to find a meaning to this “nature” in my paintings; it becomes artificial, ultra-wise and orderly, geometric, like an archetype, a typical (French) garden. But above all, in front of this greenery, this landscape, I am haunted by the impressionist imagery and know-how. I wonder how to paint without imitating Monet and Cezanne, I even wonder if it’s possible to paint real nature beyond these two great painters. I take a risk by transforming the colors and geometrizing the space.
Right now, it’s still a difficult time; I feel that I have come to the end of my inspiration, the end of my games. I have also momentarily reached the end of the subject “garden”. So I change my resources, stop painting and start drawing on paper. I also change media (I take watercolor, India ink and gouache) as a change of habit, which is a powerful motivation for me. I regularly need to stop “making pictures”. I need to take a step back. I have to stop following my path and look for another one. So I suddenly experiment with new things on paper. I start getting new ideas and my curiosity and desire are reborn.
To better disconnect myself from the clichés of traditional landscape painting, I used for example red filter. To break the linear discourse and give predominance to the rhythm and therefore to the body, I introduce, or rather unconsciously divert to the dotted gesture. I paint entirely with points: red series and pointillism.
At that time, I moved again and also graduated from Fine Arts. This change of place in my life makes me change my subject, even if we often see with hindsight, that what ultimately obsesses us is the same subject that continues in another form.
In fact this is what interests me in the work of artists: I admire of course their variety but also the declension of the same obsession ( we can see this in Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Monet, Courbet, Hockney, Guston, Paula Rego, Frida Khalo, Louise Bourgeois). So I moved to the riverside of a canal in Paris. I am fascinated by my constantly changing neighborhood: an industrial district that turns into a residential area (I denote a loss of life, of real activity, due to gentrification, a phenomenon that, in my opinion, generates artificial life without creative energy as it is the case with the gardens in the city).
The subject of the canal kept inspiring me for six years. Hard water, compact, static, opaque, monochrome, dead, and then, in other moments, colorful, transparent, translucent, alive and rich. The water already seemed to me to be a veil on buried memories that might sooner or later rise to the surface.
Water and its reflections is also a recurrent theme in the history of painting. I try at all costs to get out of impressionism but also of realism. I came across a color that I don’t like too much: the golden yellow. Indeed, someone offered me a gigantic amount of it. And I had to use it. I then decided to consider it as a constraint that stimulates me. I used this yellow as a filter between me and reality. A series of paintings was born like this during 2 years. I did not expect to be inspired by such a constraint.
Then, a new water-related infill theme arises. Indeed, in accordance to my travels, I rediscover also the snow which is only frozen water (meaning that I’m painting it for the first time and it’s also an opportunity for me to do black and white). Black and white is also a constraint.
And when I came to the end of my ideas on the canal, I painted them in black and white. Black and white allows me to adjust the light differently.
I begin to feel the need to add layers to the paper or to dig into it or tear it. What’s interesting for me in black and white is the economy of the medium, which pushes me to go further. To draw the same light effects as the black and white color. I also come back to the theme of the canal working on the snow. But where I am, in this snowy mountain, with an obvious feeling of confinement in my mountain hut, by comfort or constraint another new theme is born, the theme “computer”, nonstop entertainment.
Snow in my opinion transforms the landscape. It’s like a filter placed on a familiar landscape. I dare say that all my recent series are simultaneous, meaning that I make different series at the same time; I use the inspiration that a series gives me to make another one. I then move back and forth between the series which thus becomes mutually enriching.
The theme of the screen, tablet or computer, means that technology defines the relationship between people: it is a tool that is both dependent on and open to the world, a life saver and the symbol for the sinking of the individual’s independence and autonomy. Fascination, dependence and rejection.
In winter, I paint the snow and in summer, logically the sea. This challenge amuses me.
The sea which is the sister of the canal is wider but more limited because it’s too big and I am getting lost! In addition, I do not live by the sea long enough in the year to exhaust the theme, and I always like to go to the end of a theme, to repeat it until exhaustion, in the manner of a thrilling melody of Philipp Glass.
To work in the summer by the bank of the river in the sun, on paper, allows me to be faster, lighter and to tackle other problems.
In my eyes the sea, before being a surface, is a container and before being a horizontal extent, it is a color. It contains fish and swimmers who are transformed under my brush into a rhythmic writing composed of lines, mysterious marks, points and more points.
Its color is anything but blue: as in Homer, the sea is “vineyard”, “black wine”, ”thunder”, or “terrible”, “without harvest”. These are unexpected attributes. Enriched by this passage by the sea, I return to the canal, but more lightly. The color comes with a freer gesture, which follows the movement of my body: watercolors are now more joyful.
After a while I move to a new studio, a change that is both destabilizing and liberating: you lose your habits and try to find new ones. It’s an event that transforms you. The gardens come back in my work, but from an unexpected angle: the loss of a person I love, and the desire to fill that missing part. I frenetically paint the garden of this absent person. My desire for this person finds expression in the constantly repeated description of his garden, day by day.
The themes that obsess me come back: the phone for example as a screen that would prevent me from having direct contact with the world.
I leave the garden little by little but this rumpus and confusion that has been introduced in the picture interests me more and more. This is not an accumulation or juxtaposition, because I always compose; I rather make an appeal to chance, I like to leave traces and drops in my images; the dripping offers to the image an acrid-like structure that I like. I still paint the vegetation today but this time, it is very familiar to me: it is the vegetation of the Mediterranean.
(Let’s now come to the present)
It’s hard to talk about a work in progress because we are in the middle of the process of discovering. New experiences, accidents and associations of ideas are of great importance to me. For example, during my residency in Croatia last year, on the island of Rab- still at a time of adaptation and change-I “met” a gigantic cactus; an agave who grew up in the rocks. It was a symbolically strong image: an enormous power coming out of the rock. Disorder and order at the same time. Later in Greece, in the Peloponnese, my eyes focused on this type of vegetation. Moreover, in Modern Greek, these agaves are also called “immortals”.
Immortals as works of the spirit, as artists or gods that can be found in museums. In these museums where I spend a lot of time, I rediscovered ancient sculpture. These are immutable and consecrated works. They are still alive. I was attracted by the small Tanagra-figurines that have become gradually part of my painting. This little personage, frozen in very natural poses and too static, makes me think of a feminine attitude: wait. This encounter with ancient Greek sculpture also coincides with my desire to reintroduce the human figure into the landscape. But not just any figure: it’s a kind of emblem.
As I evolve, I abandon painting on standard formats for the sake of more freedom and lightness: I paint on canvas defined by myself, to the limits that I indicate by a red line or by no line at all, free to overflow and leave the frame. This overflow is like an invitation to continue the story started.
Albertine Trichon, May 2019