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Art : Concept: vidya gastaldon - necology - 17 Jan 2009 to 7 Mar 2009

Current Exhibition

17 Jan 2009 to 7 Mar 2009
Heures d’ouverture : mardi - samedi 11h - 19h
Opening hours: tuesday - saturday 11h - 19h
Art : Concept
16, rue Duchefdelaville
F - 75013
p: +33 1 53 60 90 30
f: +33 1 53 60 90 31

Slaves, 2008
watercolor, gouache, acrylic, colored pencil and pencil on paper, 10.6 x 13.4 in
Image © vidya gastaldon, courtesy Galerie Art : Concept
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Artists in this exhibition: vidya gastaldon

vidya gastaldon

17 january - 7 march 2009
opening saturday 17 january 4 -9 pm
tuesday to saturday - from 11 to 7 pm

Caroline Soyez-Petithomme : « Necology » is conceived as a patchwork of works highlighting the evolution of your work throughout 2008. This exhibition consists of a flashback. However, it concerns only a short period. Could you please explain me how you did this selection ?

Vidya Gastaldon : Well, this is a patchwork, with one or two drawings I realized in 2007. 2008 has been a very fertile year, with different phases and genres. I decided to gather my drawings under the title of « Necology » because this precise theme appeared to me a long time ago. Last Autumn, it suddenly came back to my mind.

CSP: Regarding your work titles or your writings, you often create neologisms. In this way, you play with a syncretic vocabulary livened up with popular culture references (such as Spongebob or smileys) within you verbalize your universe. With those words, you sum up the humour contained in your pieces as well as the various effects produced by the resourceful imaginary of your drawings. In French “Necology” sounds like «Necrologie”. Is it one of the reasons why you chose to define your recent work with this term?

VG: In the beginning “Necology” was a word game between “ecology” and “necrologie” (in English “death column”). If ecology is the study of interactions between between abundance and distribution of the living, Necology is the same, but for any type of spirits.

CSP: Regarding the idea of flashback, and particularly the one you did in the end of your last show catalogue Call It What You Like (The New Art Gallery, Walsall). You wrote few pages within you combine personal reflexions about life, quotations from literature works, or spiritual writings which influenced your practice. Could you please give more details about the structure of your text? What are the numbers above the titles for?

VG: Those numbers correspond to a precise dating, from the present instant when I start writing, -2 means two years before I wrote the text. Therefore there is the finale date, the day I finished to correct the text: August the 15th. The structure consists of a flashback autobiography, which is a reference to the legendary flashback we are supposed to experiment when we die.

CSP: About writing, in your “reverse” biography I noticed this sentence: «If writing is almost like drawing, I’m going to try to replace lines by words, colours by impressions, textures by meaning.” Integrating text into your drawings is a new element of your work, isn’t it? How do you conceive the relationship between text and image?
VG: As I don’t really know how to write, I thought I should write as I draw. However, I often insert quotations in order to counterbalance my lack of self-confidence in the realm of writing.
Usually my drawings are intuitive and general interpretations of sacred texts I have been reading for years. For instance, to find a title, I randomly open books such as the Baghavad–Gita or the Upanishads. I started inserting texts into my drawings when I admitted that some drawings were becoming pure illustrations of my readings. Thus, the text became “the verb”, floating somewhere like an apparition.

CSP: Your recent drawings consist of colourful, and even sometimes dark backgrounds. This is different from your former drawings, where the characters were floating in the middle of nowhere, in a no man’s land - a very light or white imaginary landscape. In these new series, scenes take place in romantic, symbolist or stormed landscapes. Does it result from a meaningful evolution of your artistic practice? Do you feel you are led to more pictural works, and maybe less idyllic or optimistic works?

VG: It is a natural evolution. Rather than making things emerging only from white or pale backgrounds, my landscapes are made with more intense and tortured materials. It naturally and progressively came to me. It is true: there is an evolution towards less optimistic or idyllic situations, but this is not about being dark or strictly negative. I am simply trying to get closer to this non-duality principle, mixing qualities and non-qualities, beauty and ugliness, and so on. This doesn’t mean that my drawings are no longer simple or easy to understand.

CSP: This principle based on multi-polarities concerns different levels of your work. In terms of iconography, you superimpose various Gods or divinities which become brand new, but ambivalent characters, they are one and several at the same time.
In the new series exhibited in “Necology”, the graphic compositions are very often based on the connection between two different natural environments. Then, both those environments fuse, and are spread into infinite branchings and hybrid creatures. In Blackfoot, you create a new biosphere, combining terrestrial and marine universes. Same for Fontaine d’Esprits, where creatures living on earth and made with terrestrial components – sort of living green mountains – share a common body with monsters made with liquid texture.
This non-duality principle consists of mixing various realities. Thus, you propose a completely new version of the world, without denying oppositions, but juxtaposing contraries in order to cancel or nuance them.
Another element inspired by Oriental philosophy, and maybe from Zen Buddhism is the concept of randomness you used as a creation process. This is a fundamental element which relies on instant – when form appears. The creation and reception of your drawings integrate a magic and psychological dimension. For yourself, as well as for the viewer, your works function as projective tests.

VG: Last Autumn, there was a period when spirits from nature were appearing and multiplying themselves in the textures of my drawings. It means that some drawings appear as a whole “in my head”, my hand being only an executant. However, there is always an inevitable part of randomness.
I am not very tidy with my drawings, I always blobbed them, I leave finger traces on it. This reinforces the randomness of the final result. It is particularly obvious and coherent with technique such as watercolour or drawings in decal (such as Max Ernst did) - you can’t really control how colours will spread themselves onto the paper.
Thus, substance is free to evolve, and says or reveals something. This is comparable to a form of divination. Instead of reading tea-leaves, We read forms and lines. I say “We” because it concerns myself, but also the viewer!
Sometimes, I feel being passive and not involved in the creation, I literally feel obeying material.
My work aims to make visible the invisible, through a meticulous emphasizing hidden entities, spirits/figures/forms, and autonomous will.
It deals with a wide spirit ecosystem, some of them are agonizing and grimacing spirits, the others are smiling or sleeping. « They » ordain, and I execute like if I was a possessed zombie.
I am the tool of a wilful form. However, is it an exterior-interior relationship or a superior-inferior one? This questions remains unresolved. We can find any references about belief system in many different cultures. Doctors specialized in mental or soul understanding (Western psychiatrists, shamans, religious orders from various origins) develop of lot of interesting ideas about that, but I try not to care about them. In the meantime, I content myself with doing rather than analysing.

CSP : During one of our recent conversation, you told me that “Necology would be a turning point, and that maybe after that, you would like to radically change your practice...

VG : Right now, I don’t know yet. But, for sure, I would like to realize less sculptures, and more drawings.

CSP : Would you like to let us know what your next plans are?

VG : In fact, I would prefer publishing books of my drawings rather than exhibiting them. Creating universes, and telling stories, but under the form of pages you can turn. I am no longer interested in occupying the white cube. My drawings displays always tell stories, and set up chronologies. Even if I am not entirely sure to be able to concentrate on a unique and precise subject, I am thinking about specific book projects, for instance a complete illustrated version of Bhagavad-Gita. What is important to me is to get out of contemporary art where books, and artworks, are not accessible to a large audience. The book will really aim to make my work more accessible.

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