Interview: Julie Bessard

Dear Julie, would you like to introduce yourself for ANAH?

 

Raised in Martinique, I followed my first two years of art studies in Paris before joining the Martinique School of Fine Arts where I obtained in 1995 my DNSEP (higher national diploma of plastic expression). Having chosen to set up my studio there, I have been teaching plastic arts since 1997 in high school, then at university and art school. From 1995 to 2005 I instigated the exhibitions of the association of artists “Sans Titre” while collaborating with theater and contemporary dance. Today I practice painting and sculpture at the same time in my two studios in Martinique and Corsica.

 

 

When did you understand that ART was your way, your life?

 

On the hanging of my first presentation of fine art paintings on the theme of underwater space.

 

 

 

What was your first creation? Do you remember which kind of emotion did you feel?

 

I remember the effect of my first print showing a seabed. It was a revelation because it was both a complex technical achievement and the appearance of a personal emotion that I put on view.

 

 

Do you have any artist or person who encouraged you to follow this way?

 

In my immediate family there are no artists but my maternal grandparents loved art and I was brought up with various works around me and a lot of books. No one pushed me there, but I I was encouraged once this path was chosen.

 

 

How did you arrive at the research that we can admire today?

 

My first two ways of research were on the body and its sensations, and underwater and abstract spaces. The figurative body parts gradually disappeared and the forms became more enigmatic and gestural. The bright colors appeared after my first trip to India in 1997. The stapled straw volumes were born from both forms resulting from painting and performances in nature with plant forms thrown into the sea. The practice of surfing has also influenced my gestures. From 2004, the use of staples to fix the threads allowed me to have the same speed of execution in space as on the canvas.The accumulation of shapes led me to organize them with their shadows and their movements in immersive universes.

 

 

You live between Martinique and Corsica, How important is to you the Islands’s atmosphere? And which is the advantage to live in an island for you?

 

After my art studies, I chose to stay in Martinique because I knew that my work needed closeness to this nature and this way of life and relationship. Corsica gives me solitude and allows me to feel a close relationship with nature. What I want to preserve above all is the intensity of the desire to create. It is with this deep and solid foundation that I can then step away and blend into the world, nourish myself by keeping this direction.

 

 

Which is your creative process? I mean, When you understand when the piece is finished?

When does a piece make you satisfied?

 

In painting and for certain volumes, I go totally on an adventure with a first rapid instinctual gesture around or on which the others will come to interact.The important thing is the final harmony that I sometimes have to obtain by sacrificing very elaborate parts but which are not fitting. The only criterion is the final energy released by the canvas or the installation. When I can’t add or take anything away at the risk of compromising what is revealed in the overall composition, it’s done.

 

 

Why do you prefer working with oil pastel?

 

I chose oil pastel for the speed of execution, the voluptuousness of the material and the intensity of the colors. Even if the final drying time is long and the material dirty, I can stay in direct contact with what appears on the canvas.

 

 

How did you understand that the black background could be a good way for your research?

In 2000, I had the blank canvas block, which made me leave for a moment on a series on a red background. In 2012 before the black backgrounds, I again worked on a white background with a purely graphic series of 400 drawings. When I regained the thickness of the pastel, I needed another medium and another format to break with the protocol created. Matte black is relentless, mute and cosmic. It allows light to come to the surface and gives me an impression of underwater floating. It keeps all traces, no easy repentance. It’s a trigger and a recorder.

 

How much important is the rhythm of music for you? Do you listen some music during your time in atelier or you follow the music of your soul?

 

Two styles of music make me react during the creation; contemporary jazz live music makes me directly design volumes, installations. For painting and drawing, classical and sacred music encloses me in a bubble that directly inspires me or allows me to concentrate absolutely. For 2 years, with the breakdown of my unrepaired workshop audio system, I have been able to paint in silence and I have acquired a taste for it.

 

When did you feel the urgency to use the tridimensional space?

 

In 2000, after the “Chimera”, hybrid forms detached from the background, I was looking for a way to fix the lines in space spontaneously. The stapled hat straw technique gave me the speed of execution I was looking for, so I was able to work on form, shadow and movement at the same time.

 

Do you have a different mental approach when you are making a sculture compared to a painting approach?

 

In sculpture, I design a first type of free form as I trace them in painting. Other symmetrical or crimped shapes require precise patterns for staple placement and balance. The creation of video shadows, movement and music for the installations is shared with other people. So I have to prepare and communicate more.

 

What is the concept of beauty for you?

 

This is a rather Baudelairian vision, beauty is never guaranteed and is always surprising and fleeting. It is a thread stretched over the void where you can quickly fall.

 

 

What do you think about the Artistic Scene of Martinique today? If you could make an artistic project that can make benefits to the island, what would you like to do?

 

Today the visual arts have developed thanks to the generations of artists of the art school opened 30 years ago. Even if many do not stay on the island or give up creating, there have been more exhibitions and events since the 2000s. A happy mix of amateurs and more established artists coexist. The Clément Foundation with its Quality exhibits have helped shape the gaze of the spectators and push the artists to the top. The local art market is shrinking and does not allow artists to make a living from their creation. Anything that could bring us out of our isolation and connect us with the rest of the world would be beneficial.

Sans-Titre, Oil pastel and oil on canvas, 150x200cm, 2019

 

Sans-Titre, Oil pastel and oil on canvas, 360x200cm, 2019

 

Sans-Titre, Oil pastel and oil on canvas,150x200cm, 2019

 

Sans-Titre, Oil pastel and oil on canvas, 150x200cm, 2019

 

Sans-Titre, Oil pastel and oil on canvas, 360x200cm, 2019

 

Sans-Titre, Oil pastel and oil on canvas, 255x255cm, 2019

 

View of “La peinture en éclats”, Fondation Clément, Martinique, 2019

 

View of “La peinture en éclats”, Fondation Clément, Martinique, 2019

 

View of “La peinture en éclats”, Fondation Clément, Martinique, 2019

 

View of Workshop, Schoelcher, Martinique, 2020

 

View of Workshop, Schoelcher, Martinique, 2020
View of Workshop, Schoelcher, Martinique, 2020

 

View of Workshop, Schoelcher, Martinique, 2020
View of “Ombres portées’s” Installation, straw, resin, copper and copper staples, mechanism, videos, 2005

 

Boucle Rouge, straw, resin, copper and copper staples, 100X60X25 cm, 2005

 

Hélice, Straw, resin, copper and copper staples, 60x30x30cm, 2005

 

View of L’envol, Installation of 22 stapled and resinated straw wings, upward mechanism, Installation dimensions: 25 X 15 m X 12 m, 2007

 

View of L’envol, Installation of 22 stapled and resinated straw wings, upward mechanism, Installation dimensions: 25 X 15 m X 12 m, 2007

 

By Carla Ricevuto

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