BlainSouthern presents new paintings by French artist Agathe de Bailliencourt in her first UK solo exhibition. The exhibition mounts eight works from the artist’s Couleurs du temps series, the genesis of which is rooted in a three month residency in Marfa, Texas in 2014. Marfa’s extraordinary landscape and desert environment had a profound impact on Bailliencourt’s notion of time, space and horizon. The new paintings produced in Berlin continue her reflections on these concepts, with the artist questioning ‘what does it mean to paint a landscape today?’
The paintings are characterised by their subtle colour gradations. Swathes of blue pigment develop from watery washes into saturated bands of vibrant azure, tinged in places with pale, luminous pink. Each canvas is prepared by dousing the raw linen surface with large amounts of water, after which Bailliencourt adds layer upon layer of diluted colour. The untreated fibres react to the paint in unpredictable ways, each stroke drying at its own pace, forcing the artist to step back to let the colour of each striation develop before deciding upon another layer. Between control and capriciousness, through the thorough process of repetitive layering, time is recorded into a landscape that emerges both slowly and suddenly.
The result is an abstracted plane that is reminiscent of landscape; the slow sedimentation of colour recreating a sense of place as defined through shifting colour and light. The artist describes how ‘I’m interested in the interlaced relationship between artwork and landscape, on a both non-representational and concrete level’. The dialogue between nature and paint and the serene and meditative quality of the works allude to Bailliencourt’s time in Asia.
In French the word ‘temps’ means both time and weather, and the title Couleurs du temps plays on this double meaning. It is also a nod to the Colours of Time dress worn by Catherine Deneuve in the Jacques Demy 1970 film Peau d’Âne – where changing skies and drifting clouds danced across the fabric. This constantly shifting stream of imagery resonated with Bailliencourt, an early performative work From here to there (2012), saw her painting a 270 meter straight blue line across a grassy landscape - the depth of colour of the line changing as its linearity progressed in homage to the shifting colour on Deneuve’s dress.
By extension, the Couleurs du temps body of paintings seek to capture this sense of environs, weather, colour and landscape and present it as a confusion of inside and outside, time and place. The artist’s aim is to create a feeling of depth, three dimensions being recalled upon the materiality of a two dimensional surface which she terms ‘proposing an open perspective’.
Agathe de Bailliencourt (b. 1974 Paris, France) graduated from Ecole Boulle Paris in 1998. Since then, her work has been exhibited worldwide in galleries in Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Berlin, Yogyakarta, Hong Kong, Toronto, Mumbai, and New York, amongst others. Bailliencourt has two parallel artistic approaches - work in situ and work in the studio. In her studio, she works with canvas, paper or linen, while outdoors she works directly onto landscape, architecture and urban spaces. Embracing the limitations of working both inside and outside, patterns such as the straight line, which recur throughout her work, become focal points in the dynamics of space, time and place. Selected public commissions and installations include: The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), New York NY (2014) and The Singapore Biennale, Singapore, SGP (2006). Artist residencies include: Marfa Contemporary, Marfa TX (2013-2014); Art Omi in Gent, New York NY (2012); Lower Manhattan Cul-tural Council (LMCC), New York NY (2011-2012); and Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo, JP (2009). Bailliencourt has works in several public collections including a permanent installation for the French Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. The artist lives and works in Berlin, Germany.