Laure Tixier and Hervé Rousseau
DES CHEMINS DE GRUES AUX CHEMINS DE GRÈS
You might imagine that it all started on August 20, 2013. This was the first day that Laure Tixier visited the ’Résidence au Val Fourré in Mantes-la-Jolie1(Paris suburbs). But if we take a closer look at the artist’s process, we can see that this was already apparent during her childhood when she lived in the large housing estate called La Fontaine du Bac in Clermont-Ferrand. If we pursue the idea a little further, we could ask whether it might not have begun with the construction, in France, of these multi-storey housing complexes from the 1950s to the 1970s. But then, her artist’s residence in La Borne shows us that in fact, everything started off much earlier.
Laure Tixier is interested in urban planning and the social relationships created by architecture. Her way of working is based on the use of various media and is extended by her research, her encounters, her listening and her perspective. The period as an artist in residence at La Borne was an opportunity for her to pursue from a different standpoint the insights arising through her projects “Radar over time “2 and “Collective forms.”3 In the middle of the 20th century, at the time when the construction of large estates was on the increase, La Borne was enjoying a resurgence of interest. Many ceramists from all over the world come to work in workshops, sometimes settling here, in order to be as close as possible to the ‘earth’, in every sense of the word.
At the same time, there were a large number of people from various backgrounds, housed in tower blocks, to work in factories or in large cities, and city dwellers, also originating from different countries, who wanted to settle in the countryside and work with clay by learning traditional techniques. Two radically different lifestyles, but which both generate discussion and feed relationships through their cultural richness. Laure Tixier wishes to highlight these, and she has been joined on this project by Hervé Rousseau.
Laure Tixier wanted to work with Rousseau, whose work she had been observing for some time. The artist’s approach, and more visibly, the gestures that permeate his works, are in opposition to the radical nature of the large scale estates. The two artists started out with a vertical form (the tower) and a second horizontal form (the block). They worked the clay in wooden shuttering, reminiscent of forms used for concrete constructions. The old-style techniques that have been adopted are those used by Hervé Rousseau such as coils or clay pounded by foot… Laure Tixier has “slipped” into using Hervé Rousseau’s techniques – she has observed them and then mimicked them, but without copying them. Of course, the moves have been reworked, and the artist has made them her own. As for Hervé Rousseau, he has had to express himself in a rectangular block form, a constraint that up to now had been unfamiliar to him. Thus, several dialogues were taking place between the artists, and discussions have been created by the new ways of working clay developed by each. The gestures are applied in what will later become the interior of the structures, but nevertheless they permeate their external surfaces, which in turn display the different techniques used. These cuboids take the form of large blocks, but also reference the shape of beehives. They play host to colonies of bees mainly made up of workers, just like the housing estates that were built largely for workers’ families. Hives re-used by a number of people in the 1960s and 1970s, when people chose to settle in the countryside.
Laure Tixier and Hervé Rousseau’s apiary consists of ten towers and eight blocks. Its title “From crane paths to stoneware clay paths” once again reveals the contrast between the radical nature of the construction of large housing estates and the ceramists who wished to leave the city to settle in the countryside. In the major housing estates, the rails to which cranes were attached were designed to make the construction sites more efficient, whereas in La Borne, the stoneware clay paths are laid at the bottom of Hervé Rousseau’s Noborigama kiln so that his work can be easily transported. A design analogy that artists suggest poetically in the title they have chosen.
These eighteen shapes were covered in slip and white glazes, either by brush or spray gun 5, creating a variety of surfaces. Some elements have turned out with a pearlescent finish, bringing a touch of preciousness to the pieces. Wishing to reflect the discussions and warmth that were widespread at the start of the construction of the major housing blocks, Laure Tixier and Hervé Rousseau did not add any charcoal at the end of the firing process 6. The mark of fire could have been a reference to the recent violence suffered in these neighbourhoods. The artists do not wish to negate this in any way, but that is not part of their purpose here.
It is true that these rented apartments have endured and are still living through difficult times. In the hope of eradicating the problems, some of them have been demolished. During the residency in La Borne, the two artists organised a workshop with students7 from the École nationale supérieure d’art (Higher National Art School)of Bourges to move the narrative about modernity to another area, using the age-old skills of ceramics. Starting out from the ground plan of demolished blocks and towers 8, each student devised and created an elevation where the actions and spaces are totally different from the radical nature of the large estates.
From crane paths to stoneware clay paths, all the forks in the road are welcome.
1 ‘’Résidence au Val Fourré’ where the project ‘Radar au fil du temps’ (Radar over Time) was located, 2014.
2 ‘Radar au fil du temps’, series of 6 embroideries and text, 2014, fabric, thread, pearls, Fadma Bamarouf (1972), Sylvie Ziane (2000), Fatima Ouahid (2005), Jemia Chelkine (2006), Hasna Bamarouf (2007), Naïma Guessouss (2014), each 40 x 31 cm.
3 ‘Formes collectives’ (Joint Forms) 2015 – 2017, watercolours, ceramics, installations, video, various sizes.
4 Term used by Laure Tixier when we met on 29 November 2018.
5 Up till this point, the artists had rarely used a spray gun.
6 Hervé Rousseau adds charcoal during the firing process to leave the mark of flames on his work.
7 Ambre Dourneau, Laura Duchesne, Clara Gendre, Serin Kim, Julia Soldano, Insun Song, Charlotte Thibault
8 Blocks and towers demolished in the Quartier des Gibjoncs in Bourges.
Exhibition from Febuary 2 to March 12, 2019.
Opening Saturday, Febuary 2 from 6pm to 9pm preceded by a meeting with the artists at 5pm.
Open every day from 11am to 6pm.