She’s the founder of DDessin. She’s also co-artistic director of this fair whose line keeps getting stronger and clearer every year. An hour with Eve de Medeiros, tracing the contours of a passion.
It’s a place conducive to intimate passions, a spot that stands a little way back from the buzz, ideal for celebrating the aesthetics of drawing lines. It’s a fair, or more precisely, a cabinet dedicated to contemporary drawings. Welcome to the fifth edition of DDessin, a yearly event that is being unveiled from 24 to 26 March under the glass ceiling of the Atelier Richelieu, at the heart of Paris. In other words, 700 m2 wholly dedicated to paper. So much to say that this rendezvous is both a springboard and a joyful venture for the artistic scene working with this medium. Ball-point pens, graphite powder, watercolours, markers, charcoal… Anything goes. And to avoid tripping over its pencils, Art Media Agency has turned its attention to one question: what is the nature of contemporary drawing, and what issues does it face today?
How did you come to drawing? How, by chance or by curiosity, did paper win a place in your life?
Through people I met. First, a collector of old drawings, the cofounder of the Salon du Dessin at the Palais de la Bourse, then contemporary-drawing collectors in the context of my duties at the FIAC, working on the Prix Marcel Duchamp.
What is the role or maybe even objective of such an event, beyond its commercial setting?
The primary role of this fair was to rethink something that seemed problematic to me: gallerists and artists from the young artistic scene only had very few opportunities to be presented on the walls of the existing and dominant fairs. This is why I created this event. The objective was to make known the young contemporary-drawing artistic scene to the largest number of collectors and art lovers, whether in the know or not, as well as to a new public. To make known the scene of drawing artists, illustrators and comics artists. The event’s ambition is to offer the possibility of a new and curious look at contemporary expressions of drawing. For example, this year’s DDessin will be showing works by a selection of young student artists and authors based in Angoulême. They all approach comics and contemporary drawing by questioning the medium, using pencil or digital works. They explore the new codes in creation and different graphic approaches. This selection highlights the diversity of practices and new formats in comics, as well as the porosity that exists between comics and artistic drawing.
The fair is welcoming around twenty French and overseas galleries this year. Is this the right format?
This is a format suited to the discovery of young talents represented in France, but also the rediscovery of other artists. I’m thinking about artists like Jean Widmer and Max Neuman, already presented at the previous edition. The right format is the one that starts off by bringing visibility to artists. Our space, the Atelier Richelieu, enhances this visibility and invites visitors to share light-filled intimacy, close up to the works.
Can you give us some figures? On the proportion of overseas galleries, newcomers, the rate of renewal…
This year, we are welcoming four overseas galleries from Belgium (LMS Gallery), Tunisia (Maison de la Plage), Japan (Maison d’Art), as well as the London gallery Ozenne & Prazowski, and an American art centre (Creative Growth from Oakland). The other galleries are based in French regions (Arles, Lyon and Troyes) or in Paris. Overall, ten gallerists are featuring in this year’s event, seven of them joining us for this fifth edition. At the previous edition, we were lucky to receive many visitors, no less than 5,000, from many different countries.
Harold Guérin, Cyrielle Gulacsy and Brigitte Lurton… Can you tell us about these three solo shows?
DDessin was designed as a springboard and a bridge. As they’re not with any galleries, I wish for them to have the opportunity to find, like Sascha Nordmeyer, Marie Boralevi, Cristina Escobar and Christelle Téa, galleries to present their work.
Five artists are occupying the Illustrators Corner this year. What is the vocation of this corner?
The corner presents young illustrating talent to a new set of collectors and art lovers, who are more or less initiated to the medium. It seems to me that illustrations can be seen as a bridge between a still unlimited taste for drawing and the desire to widen the formal limits of one’s collection.
What are the new trends today?
It’s difficult to talk about trends because it seems to me that drawing is precisely a meeting place between cosmopolitan artistic mediums and practices. Drawing creates an elsewhere that cannot be circumscribed by any trends or systems. It’s the freedom of the line that lays down the law. But new gestures are appearing in drawing. Perhaps drawing tells more and more stories, I’d say that it’s becoming narrative. Yes, if I had to single out a trend, it would be narration.
Are there unique ways of approaching the medium? Original techniques like the scratching on sandpaper practised by Harold Guérin?
These gestures are on the frontiers of other artistic disciplines. They remain within the realm of drawing, and involve graphic representations that share borders with sculpture, painting or else embroidery. The immanence of the gesture that extends the hand through a worker’s complicity with a tool is questioned by these practices. Unique traces that appear on the skin of different supports challenge spectators on the act, meaning and reception of the drawing. Take the traces left by Harold Guérin on a sheet of sandpaper: the material is rough, scratched by the artist to create clouds of dust, fragments of emptiness and absence in the material. In the universe of Lucie Picandet, woollen threads are used to scribble, sketch and draw. Artist Muriel Toulemonde practises chalk drawing, a little-used technique. She’s chosen the calcium carbonate technique, with white chalk on coloured paper. A type of gesture…
You’re organising a conference on drawing in the digital era… Is the era of “lead pencils and rubbers” over?
We drew a connection between digital and traditional drawing in 2014. An artists’ collective proposed creating a synthesis of the possibilities offered by the new technologies and traditional drawing. Several artists drew on a graphic tablet. This performance was video-projected onto a large sheet hung up on the wall, on which other artists drew in turn. Traditional and video-projected digital drawings responded to one another, creating a composition that took into account the characteristics of the screen and of the paper. This was a way for the collective to pay homage to the history of drawing and to experiment with new forms. This year, the LMS Gallery from Brussels is presenting an artist, Joanie Lemercier, working with three-dimensional drawing. “The idea is to create content upstream – a drawing, a sketch, that becomes my mapping support, then to project light onto it that will bring life to the whole,” he explains. Talking about digital technology in the drawing universe also means tackling the use of new media, namely social networks. Putting one’s work to the test through one’s Facebook page or Instagram account is becoming more and more common. The speed of circulation is such that a drawing can be seen millions of times without the author being well-known. This year, a conference will be broaching a number of questions on drawing in the digital era on Friday 24 March at 6 p.m.
Would you say that drawing is a joyful art, or that it translates the chaos of the world, revealing political and social fractures?
Many artists are socially aware and express their social consciousness through their drawing. They graphically represent the political and social fractures of our world. I’m thinking about Nidhal Chameck and Massinissa Selmani, shown at several editions.
This is the fifth edition of DDessin… What evolutions have you observed in recent years, namely in terms of the market?
I observe an evolution in interest in this medium in the public and among collectors. First of all, perhaps because this technique appears, for historic, circumstantial and aesthetic reasons, as eternally young, adolescent while being sure of itself. What is interesting about an event like DDessin is that it allows an increasingly diversified public to discover the universe of collection. These new collectors wind through the galleries of the Atelier Richelieu with a delight that is often satisfied by the accessibility of prices on the young contemporary-drawing market.
And what is the typical profile of the contemporary-drawing collector?
Collectors often come to drawing at a second stage, after getting acquainted with other artistic formats such as painting, sculpture or photography. But it’s also interesting to meet those who have taken to drawing first, as if something obvious echoes the first heartbeats of their collection. The proximity and intimacy that every collector nourishes with drawn works create singular aesthetic experiences. This is very specific to drawing, which carries out in-depth querying. A collector of contemporary drawing is in the front seat of history being written, he or she gathers testimonies on an intermediary time, between memory and utopia. The way I see it, there are several collector profiles: young collectors who embark on collection through drawing; hardened contemporary-art collectors who are also drawing lovers; there are also collectors who collect contemporary drawing exclusively. In my case, drawing is in my DNA. I’ve been collecting it for many years.
Do you have three tips for starting a graphic-arts collection…
I only have one piece of advice… Go for your favourite in our varied selection!
The wild landscapes of François Andes
Her pick… This year, Eve de Medeiros, director of the DDessin fair, has chosen François Andes. Born in 1969, the artist, who lives and works in the north of France, here presents work titled Les Préparatifs. Work made up of five drawings in the same format (75 x 224 cm), whose composition is based on the technical principle of the “exquisite corpse”: the edges of one drawing constitute the starting point of another, thus attached to the former, while remaining autonomous. We should add that François Andes draws inspiration – and reflects on – his experience with wild landscapes and its process of transformation, particularly primary virgin forest, as the site of potential animality. Andes’ work thus raises the anthropological question of our relationship to nature, envisaging the space of landscapes as a language for absence and as testing ground for our temptations. According to Eve de Medeiros, Isabelle de Maison Rouge, art historian and critic, best expresses her own feeling when looking at François Andes’ work; a work which blends “the ambiances associated with Flemish primitives Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, as well as the magic realism of Jorge Luis Borges or Gabriel García Márquez, and also the cinema of Fellini or Alejandro Jodorowsky”.
DDessin Paris. From Friday 24 to Sunday 26 March, Atelier Richelieu, 60 Rue de Richelieu, Paris 75002. www.ddessinparis.com