How was the Drawing Prize organised in this year impacted by the health crisis?
To start with, we would like to express the fact that we really appreciate having been able to announce the Foundation’s 13th prize, in December 2019, in the chapel of the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris, in the presence of its director Jean de Loisy and of many of the Foundation’s friends. There we made public the names of the three artists: Callum Innes, Florian Pumhösl and Juan Uslé. However, in March 2020 the Salon du Dessin was cancelled because of the lockdown and there could be no live announcement of the laureate, nor could the public admire their works in the space that we usually occupy in the Palais Brongniart. And so we congratulated the laureate, Juan Uslé, over social media. This year 2020 is a very sad one because once again we’re in lockdown and harassed by this virus which is constantly keeping us from living normally. That is why we have had to make a major change for the 2021 Prize and have decided to announce the name of the three selected artists on 10 December 2020 via our website: www.fondationdfguerlain.com
There you will find a film showing the works for the 13th Prize and presenting pieces by the artists chosen for this new year: Martin Dammann, Erik van Lieshout and Françoise Pétrovitch.
How were these artists chosen?
After the 13th Prize, which put the emphasis on abstraction, we wanted to come back to figuration. Each of these three artists has a strong, sometimes even sculptural line. They are rereading the past while remaining very much involved in today’s world. They have a strong sense of staging and human presence, going from a romantic vision to a more acerbic one
In recent years the artists from the Drawing Prize and the Pompidou Centre Donation have been regularly shown abroad. Are you planning further travels in the months ahead?
Well, it can’t all be gloom, and so here at last is some good news that warms our hearts! The donation of one thousand two hundred drawings that we made to the Musée National d’Art Moderne is taking our prize to some very interesting exhibitions, like the ones planned in Russia for autumn 2020, which have been rescheduled for next year. Starting on 25 October 2021, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow will showcase the works in the Donation, while the whole of the Drawing Prize, that is, all the artists chosen from 2007 to 2021, will be presented at the NCCA (National Centre for Contemporary Arts) in Nizhny Novgorod, starting on 27 October. We are very happy about this news, which really lights up these dark times we are living through. We can’t wait to resume this dialogue with Russia.
Textes Marie Maertens
14° Drawing Prize Daniel & Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation.
In his drawings and watercolours, Martin Dammann revisits both history and his own memories. He steeps himself in moments that fomented human destiny, until the virtuosity of his technique reaches beyond what the image seeks to tell us.
Dammann usually works with photographic sources. The two world wars were a key subject for exploring the questions of German guilt and of gender, alongside clichés of perfect American families from the 1960s, discoveries from the colonial era and reminiscences from his personal archives. The meaning of the images is not so important, for what the artist is trying to understand is the hidden reality at the moment when the shutter was released.
“I want to discover what is beyond what we see,” he explains. To begin with, therefore, a long period is spent selecting the moment that touches him from among thousands of reproductions. Then he scans and enlarges it. He probes it, even emphasising blurriness or certain weaknesses in the focus, which he turns into a strength as he works the watercolour with his brush. Exploring these forgotten memories of amateur photographers, Dammann interrogates the human condition, in its most extreme or most trivial incarnations, and then the finality of drawing and watercolour. “The idea of my drawings is to reconstruct what was behind the image when it was captured,” he stresses.
It is tempting to add that the point is above all to deconstruct, and to do so in particular via the gradations of his palette. He can dialogue, even in formats over two metres wide, with the black and white of charcoal, but he fully enjoys the pleasure of manipulating the subtle notes of purples, faded pinks, ochres, blues or greens. Ignoring the academic rules of colour relations, he works to amplify their visual power. Dammann links his own feelings to the ones he projects onto the image, taking it away from its informative, documentary function. He makes his subjects secondary in order to draw the viewer into the dynamic of his lines and the dissolves of his washes. The artist sets out to talk about the tangible world but cannot resist the tug of emotion and projection, imposing a space between real and imaginary. Does what was hidden then become visible? “I question temporality in and through humankind, the traces that we leave of our lives, notably through photography, and how we respond to them,” he concludes.
Martin Dammann was born in Friedrichshafen am Bodensee, Germany, in 1965.
He holds a degree from the University of the Arts in Berlin, where he lives. He took part in Documenta X, Kassel, in 1997, and at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. He has exhibited in numerous institutions, including the Espace des Arts in Chalon-sur-Saône, the Kunsthalle Nuremberg, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, the Centre de la Photographie in Geneva, the Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Israel, the Capella – Institut de Cultura, Barcelona, and PS1 in New York.
His work is held in the collections of the Florence and Daniel Guerlain Donation at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dole and the Märkisches Museum in Witten.
He is represented by the galleries In Situ-Fabienne Leclerc (Romainville) and Barbara Thumm (Berlin).
In his deliberately acerbic and engaged drawings and collages, Erik van Lieshout questions
the finality of art and the very function of the artist, affirming that he or she does indeed have a role to play in our society.
Some of his drawings flirt with caricature. He has always found everyday life inspiring and never tires of sketching the political world – figures such as Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Nicolas Sarkozy, for example. But he combines this with existential questions about love, among other things, and may wonder who takes the upper hand, the
strategist or the human being. Images that he cuts out from newspapers are a first source. Then, in the studio, he takes up sheets of paper and covers them with his sometimes violent lines and marks. He produces and destroys a great deal. But a good observer cannot be angry and Erik van Lieshout knows that. He therefore tempers what he is saying with a humour and irony that may leave viewers on their guard because of all the provocations.
He sees his work as a mission, and it will be no surprise to learn that when he was a student his role models went by the names of Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley and Martin Kippenberger. Today, he still feels close to the spirit of Fluxus and Joseph Beuys. But Van Lieshout also values collective inspiration. He loves to go out into the street, to gather opinions or feel the energy, and answers positively when invited by biennials and museums, so that he can immerse himself in new cultures or the themes of the moment.
“I think it is important,” he says, “to understand people’s needs. Because for me, art must change life and, even on a small scale, make the world better. I have always thought that and, as my career has progressed, I have been able to go deeper in my relations with my interlocutors.” Recently, he has made work about elections, immigration, the rise of populism and also, underlying that, the effects of Covid-19.
He also evokes liners that have become ghost ships, but mocks the fact that luxury brands carry on. The people are therefore saved. He mixes his multiple sources of information and titillates the individual viewer’s intelligence. And yet for all that, everything is transformed and his gaze as an artist who travels abroad regularly has certainly changed. “It’s no longer possible to go to the other end of the globe and give a partial opinion. The interaction with the people there is different and that got me thinking about my position, which could seem a bit imperialist,” he concludes. A new era is beginning, one in which Erik van Lieshout has already found his place.
Erik van Lieshout was born in Deurne, the Netherlands, in 1968.
He is a graduate of the Academy of Art and Design St. Joost and of De Ateliers. He lives and works in Rotterdam.
In 2013 he took part in the Moscow and Venice biennales and he has exhibited at the Wiels
in Brussels, at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, at the Kunsthaus Zurich, at the Hammer Museum-UCLA, at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, at Tate Modern in London, at the Albertina in Vienna, and at the FRAC Dunkirk.
His work features in the Florence and Daniel Guerlain Collection and Donation to the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, and in the collections of the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum (Rotterdam), the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), and MoMA, New York. He is represented by Guido W. Baudach (Berlin), Annet Gelink (Amsterdam), Krinzinger (Vienna) and Anton Kern (New York).
Revisiting the classics of art history, Françoise Pétrovitch develops her subjects in an oscillating movement between past and present, the explicit and the implicit, which highlights the spontaneity of her execution and the fluidity of her washes.
Pétrovitch works a great deal in series. Lately, an island in her Série Noire paid homage to the Isle of the Dead, the famous painting by Arnold Böcklin, and to a park that she visited. This stood alongside the large portraits of young smokers, flowers and animals, all somewhat fantastical, in her corpus. The repeated themes make it possible to “bring forth a pleasure in making and doing.” The artist conceives small format pieces in pencil, while she works in ink and wash on large sheets of paper placed on the floor. Indeed, Pétrovitch’s material is very liquid, in the physical and metaphorical senses. Going from one medium to another, she likes her models to develop fluidly – even when they evoke the disappearance, absence or interiority of being, which are recurrent interrogations, as is clearly shown by the Saint Sebastian works, the floating bodies or the bistre and black multiples.
To counter the risk of nostalgia, Pétrovitch uses snapshots of everyday life. She goes for bold, clear breaks and lively tones, notably red. The important thing is to dig, again and again, deeper into pictorial questions. The artist says that she does not go in for overly psychoanalytic or symbolic interpretations.
“I prefer my universe to be global and speak to each one of us,” she points out. To this end, she allows the moments of the work “to emerge and accept[s] the drawing as it is taking shape” while bestowing a cinematic vision on her scenes. She unfolds her formats and tightens her focus, for “being as close as possible is, when it comes down to it, my subject.”
Being as close as possible to the subject also allows her to cut out what is around it all, clearly showing that dichotomy and ambiguity are at the heart of her work. “I love switches and moments when things suddenly change,” she admits. “In all my images you find the present and the absent, the figure or its shadow, the will to signify or not […] But I never conceptualise my ideas before I execute them. I allow a gesturality to develop, even to the
point where it may perturb me.” And so an implicit rhythm is instituted in the eyes of the viewer and leads them every time towards new sequences.
Françoise Pétrovitch was born in Paris in 1964. A self-taught artist, she lives and
works in Cachan.
Since the late 1990s, she has been exhibited at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Saint-Étienne,
at La Louvière in Belgium, at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea in São Paulo, at Mac Val in Vitry-sur-Seine, at the Beaux-Arts museums in Nancy and Calais, at the Laac in Dunkirk, at the Carré d'Art in Nîmes, at the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg, and at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris.
Her work is part of the Florence and Daniel Guerlain Collection and Donation at the Musée
National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, and in the collections of the National Museum
of Women in the Arts in Washington, the Musée Jenisch in Vevey, and the Beaux-Arts museums in Rennes and Chambéry.
She is represented by Galerie Semiose in Paris.