Monday, October 31st, 2016 | T: lamono
We are our own abode, the home to which we ache to return. Also the place we sometimes need to escape from. Home is our refuge. A shell we inhabit internally and which contains all of the bitter and the sweet of our own essence. Amongst the walls of our house, ghosts, mummies and the children we once were, wanted to be and will never become, inhabit. Memories in the shape of objects, and toys that have become essential relics with a deep sentimental value still live there. A toy may hide an emotion, the prank of a given day, or the protecting totem that we revered throughout our childhood. Being back home is recalling our youth; is reliving our present. As well, is the place where our fears, cravings, joys and dreams reside. Where we share the loneliness and the essential people in our lives. As artist Amandine Urruty has let us know, home is creating a universe where all of the latter dwells in. Home is a reflection of who we are, our principles, strengths and weaknesses. And just in case you are not sure you understood the concept thoroughly, you better put on your rubber boots, there might be mud. T: David González
What advice would Amandine Urruty give us before we delve into her drawn universe? Put on your rubber boots, there might be mud.
Your works teem with mysterious characters, peculiar children, atypical beings… Besides that, intriguing scenarios. Is there some link between the fact that your bed is your creative space and that dream-like environment conveyed on your drawings? I guess that my way of working is not without significance, I never leave my bed, and I even fall asleep under my drawings sometimes. However, I rarely draw my dreams, I mean, literally. But my bedroom has become my safe haven. It’s calm, soft and warm. I never let anyone get in while I’m working; I need to maximize my comfort and my concentration. I guess that’s also why I don’t work with music. Music is a distraction, and I need to be focused, with an empty head. Just like when you’re beginning to fall asleep.
The figure of children and characteristic elements of childhood are numerous within your drawings. Is it because there is some nostalgic idea of wanting to go back to that period of life or is it a way to connect with the child we all have inside? To be honest, I’m not really nostalgic about my childhood. It was a bit shitty, a bit sad. Maybe that’s why I love talking about childhood in my drawings, because to me it was a period of mixed feelings: pure joy, naive pleasures but also terrible fears, melancholy, and social pain (all these “innocent” children can be terribly mean, we all know that). I also love to resuscitate my vintage toys for the same reasons: eighties toys (and monsters) were often half cute, half scary. It’s this paradoxical feeling that I try to re-transcribe.
Your creative universe reminds us of Bosch or Leonardo Da Vinci, amongst others. Which references have been the ones that inspired you to create this parallel universe? Of course Bosch is an undeniable influence for me, but I must also mention David, Ingres, Brueghel, Delacroix, Géricault, and more generally, Italian and Flemish Renaissance and French Neo Classicism… I love to get inspired by these classical universes to construct mine, even though I can’t compete with them! Parallel to these museum references, I love horror movies (I was brought up in that atmosphere, my father was a huge fan of Romero – and of Rammstein), TV shows about serial killers, The Muppet Show, The Tales from the Crypt, My Little Pony, Food Fighters and the Garbage Pail Kids.
The characters in your drawings are always posing, as if they belong in a Victorian portrait. What do you get from depicting them in this aesthetic way, rather than in scenes that convey movement? I have always loved the « pose » concept, both in classical paintings, as well as in the first photographs from the end of the 19th century. To me this marmoreal aspect gives an undeniable power to the pictures, it can make them more impressive, solemn and fascinating. Of course, that’s only my point of view, but that’s what I love.
We know that music has played an important part in your life. Which songs would serve as the soundtrack for the characters in your drawings? The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill, and especially Mack The Knife. I keep singing this song all day long! It’s my current anthem. Alabama Song by Kurt Weill too, Burt Bacharach, sunshine pop bands like The Free Design and the Beach Boys, Krautrock bands like Faust, Can and Neu!, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, all Claudine Longet’s songs and especially Ain’t no Mountain High Enough.
A Sweet Home would be warm, dusty, inhabited by sausages and mummies, filled with stuffed weasels, ugly canvases and cheese
Many times, we endow a great deal of color to our made-up and fantastic universes. Nonetheless, your drawings are monochromatic. What’s the reason behind that absence of color beyond black and white? My very first works were in black and white, but they were slightly different from the recent ones, more rough, less precise, made with pens and not pencils, with little lines and less gradations. At that time I used to swear I would never use color anymore. I used to think that black and white drawings were dramatically more elegant than color pictures, and truly deeper too. I changed my mind only one year later, and I began producing very colorful pictures with fluorescent pencils. At that time I thought these loud colors and rainbows were part of a “magical thinking plan”. It was a childish way to cope with a new (and so sad) period I had to face. I really immersed myself in candy pink and neon yellow for two, producing enough drawings to publish a 128 pages book called Robinet d’Amour. When my dad finally died, I decided to go back to black and white. Definitely. It could seem Emo but who cares? I wanted to go back to my first love. Today I don’t think I’ll use color anymore. I love graphite too much; it has endless possibilities. And I love the paradoxical idea of creating a “pop” universe in black and white.
Amongst your works we can find a series of symbolic elements that constitute your creative language. The depiction of a house or a brick is very present, also the peculiar nose the children have. Is this symbolism autobiographic or it has to do with the story you are trying to tell? This symbolism is always connected to feelings, jokes, singular events, even though it seems clearer in retrospect. All these ghosts, mummies, brick-faced characters, accompany me since a long time now. But I think it would be unwise to unveil these symbols’ real signification to me… As Nietzsche once said, “A thing that is explained ceases to concern us”. To me Art is never about understanding. It’s all about mystery.
What has the creation of a totally subjective world, probably from the depths of your subconscious, offered and allowed you on a personal level? That’s a difficult question, as I’m not particularly versed in psychoanalysis. I assume that drawing has helped me to overcome some obstacles in my life, it always allowed my to capture on paper my obsessions, my anger, my regrets, my fears. In that sense it’s a soothing activity. Anyway, I don’t really want to dig deeper. I prefer to keep my approach spontaneous and funny.
In relation with our theme this issue, how would a SWEET HOME inhabited by the universe of Amandine Urruty be? It would be warm, dusty, inhabited by sausages and mummies, filled with stuffed weasels, ugly canvases and cheese.
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