Paris is renown for its artists and musicians, so when Hermes came across the inspiring art of a modern day French artist living in that very city, Hermes had to chat to her. Vanessa Fanuele has had many exhibitions around the world showcasing her drawings, her painting and her sculpture.
Hermes-Can you tell us about your background, what brought you to art?
VF: I studied architecture and worked alongside my father, who is a museum architect. After various experiences in an agency I became a consulting architect for a programming firm. It was an opportunity to be in contact with the reserves of many museums and to study the collections. I think there was a first trigger here, unconsciously I probably wanted to create my own collection.
The beginning of my work came after the discovery of boxes belonging to my grandmother that contained familiar objects, which I may or may not have recognized. This duality fascinated and frightened me, it is always traumatic not to recognize something you think you know. All the impressions I could have then, all the images I saw or imagined, I tried to represent them, in layers and superimpositions. All of this to give works that were not very identifiable, on the edge of confusion.
Hermes- This set of paintings are depicting wonderful natural scenes.
VF: “I dream the world so the world exists as I dream it” says Gaston Bachelard.
My representation of the world is the one I feel, the one I desire but also the one I fear, the one I imagine or the one I remember, there is a paradoxical dimension because it is epidermal, carnal but also mental and spiritual. I treat colour as a skin that comes to rest on structures, bones, like a veil that covers and reveals at the same time.
Nature is also an architecture, the shape and rhythm of the elements that compose it reveal a space, or rather spaces that are often wild or not very legible. I lose myself to find myself better.
Hermes Would you describe this as spiritual art, or esoteric art?
VF: Poetry reminds me of Yves Bonnefoy’s hinterland, “a place where the invisible and the close merge”, a curtain that puts reality at a distance to better understand it, to have another time, to read the unreadable. Like a breath, poetry allows us to see differently, to be reconciled with ourselves and with the world and finally to accept our condition.
I associate the poetic dimension in my work with that of silence. The colour can also intervene in this sense or it will bring an atmosphere conducive to contemplation. Suspended time and the loss of reference points dominate and in some paintings the cosmos is very present.
My works can be seen from different angles or through several layers, they never give themselves to be seen in their entirety, they reveal themselves as a reading.
Hermes: What is the medium for these pictures? Why do you work in this medium?
VF: I make sketches in pencil and then paintings on paper that become future canvases or give rise to sculptures. Conversely, I can find in the sculpture a form that inspires me and allows me to make a painting.
Paper is a familiar and sensual material, it is fragile and resistant at the same time, I like this ambiguity. The canvas is much more complex and less docile, it establishes another type of relationship, more tense and more intense.
I work with oil glazes on paper and on canvas once the background is sketched with acrylic, it allows me to approach transparency and light. Sometimes the many layers make the background completely disappear to reveal something else.
Hermes: Please comment on how you were influenced to make this art and about who influences you.
VF: In this quest for confusion and the search for hidden meaning, I also draw my sources from more unusual iconographies such as that of the 70’s collective Architecture Studio, the old pictures of National Geographic, the Follies by Jean Jacques Lequeu, or even the semi-erased paintings of the Renaissance. My gaze is often directed towards projects that have never been realized as if there was a will to work from a raw material in the making or unfinished. In this respect, Rodin’s non finito or Cézanne’s reserves are for me whispered truths.
Putting all these so different elements together is like balancing a multitude of forms. But it is also a glimpse of a new playground. I often feed on these “oppositions” because they reveal another space and allow me to slide towards other worlds.
Hermes: How do you prepare yourself to make this type of art?
VF: In my work I use multiple sources of inspiration, images are one of them. Found, found, picked or personal, they are often stained, washed, veiled. It is when the surface becomes almost more important than the background, that another image reveals itself in the manner of an apparition or a repentance, as if the impression of my imagination was juxtaposed with what preceded and took its place. There is already there the idea of a memory that disappears but remains at the same time, a survival.
The colour that emanates from the images can be a starting point for a series.
Hermes: Perhaps you can tell us more about the colours, why do you use certain colours? Do they have a significance? Are the colours representing anything?
VF: When I intervene on paper or canvas I have already done research in the form of notes, sketches and collages and for colour I try to hold a colour chart, but I prefer to have it in my head like a refrain that I don’t always remember. Things escape me, I keep a part of enigma in my process, it allows chance and reversal.
Hermes: Your paintings have a mixture of natural and new world feel about them, can you tell Hermes more about this?
VF: The painting takes shape and here again I want to filter the essential, I voluntarily make it disappear under the fluid of water or turpentine, as if to avoid defining the subject too much or to thwart the separation between things.
Insaisible (elusive), I lose the representation in part, then I reconstruct it, then erase it again. A veil forms on the surface, a curtain that probably puts a distance between the subject and the gaze and blurs the mark; are we in front of or behind the canvas?
Hermes: What direction is your art going for the future?
VF: My painting seeks to express something other than a subject because it fades over time and gives way to colour, a feeling, an experience probably close to that of a memory.
Hermes: Where can people find your art-do you have a website?
VF: I live and work in Paris. I teach drawing and painting at the National School of Fine Arts of Bourges and at the art and aesthetics department at the University of Paris 8. My site is www.vanessafanuele.net and I am represented by the Polaris gallery in Paris.
Vanessa currently has art showing at these exhibitions-
credits photo Rebecca Fanuele / courtesy Galerie Polaris