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Brigitte Penicaud: the musical picturality.

A STYLISTIC AND DECORATIVE THINKING MUST COMbine the three elements analysed by Moholy-Nagy in his Bauhaus courses: structure as the principle of composition of the material, texture as "the surface as the organic result of the structure", and manner as the appearance and "sensible result" of the ensemble, designed to create an "optical musicality".

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Brigitte Penicaud makes functional objects that, while being objects of expression, are often indispensible objects in the art of table setting and are created, above all, for the pleasing visual and tactile aspects as well as for the pleasures of gourmandise.

She throws while off-setting the piece's edges and upsetting volume in a search for a dynamics. She stresses hallowed areas and bumps and pushes the throwing to the point of collapse.

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She would forget the functional constraints of ceramics in order to ground a greater freedom. She loves the moment when this all starts moving: her bowls, whether small or large, seem to dance; they are exquisitely delicate, in stoneware or in porcelain.

Their first firing takes place once she has played on their shapes and covered them with Tournon or porcelain slips, dabs of pigments, oxides, ashes, 'chalk' sketches and, sometimes on the inside of the bowls, a red copper or black coating. In the wake of her trips to Mexico, vivid tones have appeared, while the outside surfaces still maintain their aerial aspect.

Texture in Penicaud's work is always pictorial, both on the bare surface and in her brushstrokes.There is a manner of finding oneself in painting and a manner of self-ejection. Most often extremely clear, her decorative work originates in an osmosis between colour and matter: neither real floral motifs, nor calligraphies--at times one might almost sense a petal hovering like a butterfly--and the presence of a flower or foliage will be at best a hint.

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With her palette of light colours, Penicaud lets us see both light effects on her large landscaped plates as well as floral variations, accomplished with a delicate translucent stroke like in a glaze. The artist leaves large naked areas that allow the whiteness of the porcelain slip to be an expressive part of the decor. She paints with long curvilinear strokes and large expanses of colour, counting on the effect of their dissolution as in watercolour.

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No line is used to establish contour; lines of colour themselves establish surfaces; colour is at one and the same time form and gesture but there is no substitute for the kiln for the revelation and gift of their ashes and oxides.

Even though Penicaud does not acknowledge the influence of any specific artist, her pictorial mode recalls abstract expressionism. And yet it is hard to resist, with respect to her work, calling up the sensibility of Cy Twombly, Wilhelm de Kooning's energy, or Joan Mitchell's lyricism.

The moment when Brigitte Penicaud comes into her own is certainly in her relationship to music and to jazz inasmuch as she is constantly experimenting with formal and pictorial variations, a play of identity and difference, that give us a sense of vital energy at their core, producing an organizing rhythm of shapes and traits of colour. We might define this aesthetic as a perfectly unique production of line and rhythm.

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Whatever its size, her work would bring the onlooker to an inner point of destabilization of normal perception. She opens up for us a free space for mental projections and has reached in our judgment a state of musical picturality.

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Francoise de l'Epine is a writer on the arts living in Paris.

Translated from French by George Collins. Photos by Georges Meguerditchian.
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Author:L'Epine, Francoise de
Publication:Ceramics Art & Perception
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Mar 1, 2010
Words:615
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