Let It Dry, Let It Drip, Let It Be (The Painting That It Is Not)

Woven Paintings

Woven piece (prototype) published in View on Colour magazine, 2000 
Woven piece (prototype) published in View on Colour magazine, 2000 
paint threads & canvas’ strips 13*14 cm – photo Lon Von Keulen

This project actually started in 2000 when, as a stagiaire in Paris in the prestigious trend forecasting bureau of Li Edelkoort, I was asked to create experimental woven pieces around the theme of “camouflage”. One of the four pieces I created for this dossier took, as a starting point, the paintings of Jackson Pollock with his monumental camouflages of paint on blank canvases. After a few unsuccessful weaving attempts, I came up with an exciting new technique: to weave shreds of canvas with paint – from which I pulled threads, and let them dry. It immediately felt like the right twist to do, to think of paint as a 3D material that I could manipulate, rather than an ink applied on the surface.

Aesthetically the result is, of course, a direct reference to J. Pollock. But weaving a painting with threads of paint turns the classical painting process upside-down. Indeed, instead of applying paint onto a blank surface (canvas), the surface here doesn’t exist before it’s being woven, line after line. In that sense, this first woven prototype uses the language I developed/used in my later works like in the installations where twisting and reversing processes, exhausting materials and rethinking environments defined my artistic thematic (see the exhibitions section).

Eighteen years after, it was then only normal to go back to this initial piece and see its potential in my artistic path. Moreover, it would constitute a ‘bridge’ connecting the installations to my painting practice.

This is how I brought back the little prototype from my parents’ attic. Sadly, I had no recollection of the paint I used at the time, which became my challenge for the next few months. Contrarily to regular paints which dry flat, I needed to find one that would stay three-dimensional. After a research and many aborted tests, I remembered that it was somehow connected to textile, and finally put my hands on the precious bottles of Tulip paints, mainly used by teenagers to decorate their clothes.

home-made loom with shreds of canvas as the warp

Copy of Rembrandt’s self-portrait using the ‘grisaille’ technique, oil on canvas 24*19 cm (2015)

This mystery solved, I was ready to choose the colours for the next pieces and weave along. I selected colours based on elements or steps in the classical painting process. The first woven piece is a reproduction of the prototype from 2000 composed of the three primary colours (red, yellow and blue) and white and beige to refer to the natural linen canvas.

Followed the Grisaille, which is known as the chiaroscuro technique, an underpainting in shades of grey or another neutral colour, and whose function is to define the lights and shadows of a composition.

At that stage, it was natural to think bigger and take the challenge to weave large formats – which meant to work on one piece for several months to a year. Actually, The Painting That It Is Not (Grisaille) took eight months and 283 bottles of paint! I was then interested to see how the same technique could be applied in reference to other classical arts like sculptures, frescoes and reliefs. This is how The Painting That It Is Not (Bronze) was born, with its golds and greens reminiscent of the aging bronze statues. These two pieces are now woven, but still in progress, and a new monochrome is on the go, based on the relief technique (see Little Relevo above).

the little woven pieces are for sale, for prices and more colours > here

++ next: Collages
++ previous: acrylic paintings The Same Portrait All Over Again