Marie-Dominique Kessler – In my drawings the most important element is the process. It’s a process of the ordinary, of the everyday life. The daily: the repetition of moments, of situations. The ordinary: in the work, the biological structures that one sees everyday by accident.
Françoise Bridel – I recognise plants, familiar shapes, and obvious connection to nature.
M-D K – Familiar; that’s a word that intrigues me. It’s a moment when I recognise a form but I can’t say exactly what it is. I stay in a receptive state before conceptualisation.
F B – Conceptualisation?
M-D K – The definition of the object.
F B – The definition of the object?
M-D K – It’s when you see a shape or a structure and you realise that it’s an onion.
F B – You feel that it’s possible to recognise shapes in your work ?
M-D K – Sometimes you can recognise the object, when I go as far as the representation of what I think to be the visual limits of the object. But usually it stays in the foreground of my mind, just a tingling sensation. It’s a movement, a repeated passage from a feeling to a meaning. I try to be conscient of the steps of visual perception, and to stay as long as possible in my first impression. Sometimes it’s a back and forth movement between feelings and representation.
F B – But in these drawings there’s something else, too.
M-D K – When I take walks, I look at a tree trunk and first I’m interested in the pattern of the bark. I rediscover the process of exploration in my work with this material. I use etching ink, which is a kind of printer’s ink. It’s a very tender and dense ink, a very deep intense black. I use Japanese calligraphic paper, which absorbs the ink very well. I experiment with the temperature, the thickness of the ink layer, the pressure used on the paper. This technique is called “monotype”, because it gives just one piece. I draw on the back of the paper, then I turn it over. The result is often surprising, sometimes frustrating. What part of the ink is the drawing going to absorb? The quality of the ink makes the density of the blackness but it’s the drawing that determines the way the ink will take shape on the paper.
F B – The format...there are squares and long rectangles that you call “rolls”.
M-D K – The squares are done in large quantities, allowing me to repeatedly experience the process of discovery of an object. Placed together they express the diversity of the percieved shapes. The “rolls” give a larger place to the exploration of space. There’s a feeling of movement, it’s fluid. The marks, the empty and full spaces come together and seperate, creating rhythms and pauses, somehow like sounds and silences in music.
F B – What would you say about the size and the shapes of the objects? Here I see leaves...
M-D K – They’re seeds!
F B – Here, a salad and a bush...
M-D K – It’s a rose! And those are hairs! I give myself alot of freedom in the use of space of the sheet of paper. I’m not into the representation but into the exploration of shapes, of lines. Sometimes I draw from photos: stems with little hairs make me think of human hair. So I get out of the representation of objects in order to enter into my feelings towards the object, into the projection of my inner images. I have no restrictions in my approach of the object; it stays in the form of a translation of my impressions. I look at microscopic photos of plants and of bodies, these shapes inspire the same organic impression as when I look at mountains or the insides of a fruit.
F B – Do you draw mountains and the insides of fruit?
M-D K – Yes, for example the Gastlosen (rock cliffs) from Charmey...the inside of a chinese apple, or an orange, the seeds of a grapefruit or cardomon seeds.
F B – What’s that?
M-D K – It’s an onion cut in half. I often feel like drawing when I cook - the shapes of vegetaqbles fascinate me – cooking is, to me, first and foremost a visual experience. I cut vegetables and keep a piece to draw. An ordinary discovery sprouts from everyday experiences. Trees, grass, hairs, these shapes/patterns depend on how they develop, change, and the more I draw these shapes the more I discover other shapes.
December 27, 2004 – Françoise Bridel and Marie-Dominique Kessler