Michele Deveze

Artist Statements
Chamber Music Prints
things of flesh and stone
The Red Door - and other myths (Cairns, Townsville, Melbourne, Brisbane)
Past Imperfect
Dialogue
Twelve Nudes & a dog
Transience - Maleny Artworks
Transience - Bleeding Heart Gallery
From Red Gate Studio to Umbrella Gallery


 

AN ARTIST STATEMENT 2007
Michèle Devèze
Structures and objects attract me by their geometry and tonal balance, the implicit but unexpressed history or significance of elements, and their relationship to myself and my own life experience. In my works on paper I attempt to evoke a history or deeper feeling than the sensual satisfaction than can be achieved by a well-balanced composition, by distilling the essential sentiment or atmosphere of a structure, environment or emotion and trying to elicit an innate response in the viewer. The work may stimulate the surfacing of formerly lost or forgotten sensory memories; or may provoke curiosity about before, after, who, what, when, where, why and how. The works essentially try to tack the subject to the now, while stating that the now is no more nor no less important than the past or the future.

I work predominantly in mixed media monochromes and organic colours, and use collage as a tonal underlay, an illustrative vehicle, or as an intrinsic expressive surface element essential to the pictorial grammar of my work. Layered compression and abstraction of space allows conceptual manipulation to suggest the building of memories, experiences and images, as well as technical construction and building of textures. Cognitive and structural dynamic tensions, synergies, sympathies and stresses are established by developing the interrelationships between form, shape, line, texture, colour and tone. I exploit these relationships to explore subliminal emotional responses.

My composite works are irrational. They emanate from a reservoir of sense that is barely pictorial, let alone verbal. The works originate with personal experience, and may sometimes operate as a cathartic exercise, yet at other times as an examination, expansion or explanation of a recently experienced emotional response. They evolve with minimal intervention from my conscious self, and express deep, raw, heartfelt but indefinable emotions or responses to personal situations, challenges or crises.

Rather than representing a particular time, place or event, I try to express enigmatic sensations, feelings and atmosphere. The works deal with the perceived and sensual rather than observed and conceived subject matter, and evoke sensations, feelings, emotions, and responses by the use and juxtaposition of texture, form, shape, image, line, tone and colour. To achieve this level of communication, recognisable images as well as organic shapes and evocative textures, colours or materials are used. The pictorial elements and essences stem from unconscious necessity, and have little literal or traditional symbolic relationship to the sentiment expressed.

Few people experience or interpret life or art in the same way. I do not expect, and possibly, do not even want, the viewer to understand or become familiar with my private emotional landscape, rather, I hope that people are stimulated by these works to individual and unique emotional sensations. If these works elicit an emotional response from the viewer, be it similar to that that I held while creating them, or not, the works have achieved as much as I could wish for.


Detritus
ARTIST STATEMENT


I do not like to print in editions; editioning limits the potential for expression of the plate... I explore the different personae of the image by printing from the same plate on different grounds or using different techniques - each print is a unique state. The grounds that I print on are an integral part of the work, and, comprised of organic unallocated materials, are works in their own right.

Aluminium is soft yet brittle and drypoint on aluminium is particularly evocative of the crumpled, fractured, decayed and discarded essence of ‘detritus’. Detritus is that which is discarded, is no longer of use - the wrapper, the seed pod, the skeleton, the discarded feather; yet it lives on, evocative of its former strength and function it slowly incorporates its metamorphosing organic beauty into its associative environment.


Michèle Devèze 2010

Nudes
ARTIST STATEMENT

My nudes, as though sculpted out of the paper that they are drawn on, retain the character of their ground, in the same way that a sculpture will retain the character of the stone or metal or wood that it is created from. The drawings are a part of the paper, not drawn onto the paper. In drawing the nude I try to convey as much information about the individual – mass, strength, tactility, tension, character, preoccupation – using the minimum amount of artistic device. Consequently the images simultaneously have a sense of solidity and volume while retaining an ethereal transient quality. Like individuals in a moment of resigned indecision, the figures appear poised between bursting out of the constraints of the medium, and dissolving back into the ground from which they were born. The drawings raise the question ‘what happens next?’

I enjoy brown paper. It has a certain honesty and humility; it is reminiscent of the brown canvas aprons that ironmongers wore in the days when bread was sold wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper. It has enough bite to give it character without denying the subtlety of a delicate line. Chinese rice paper embodies all the enigma of Chinese culture. It is made using a centuries-old technique, yet over the epochs has not compromised its relevance; it is delicate and translucent, yet corporeal and with a strong individual character. While brown paper accentuates the strength of a line in chalk or charcoal, rice paper will not hold a strong line, but nor will it release the shadow of a misplaced mark.

The white gesso ground is unforgiving of mistakes in charcoal or chalk, but generously rewards the well placed mark. The use of a white ground on brown paper or rice paper for my nudes demands the assurance to place an unpretentious mark with certainty, and the courage to accept the wrongly placed mark, and insists on the use of tone to accentuate the line rather than to overwhelm or ignore the line.

Michele Deveze 2010


Freestanding Art
ARTIST STATEMENT

The triplefold screen format gives scope to use all the processes and media that I work with: life drawing; other charcoal or chalk drawings; photography and photomanipulation; collage; allegorical landscapes of the mind; irony and abstract interrelations between shape, colour, texture and association. I like the three panel format, with connotations of past|present|future emotion|thought|action sublime|ideal|actuality soul|rationale|intellect.


The screens are large enough to be able to develop the space and a story within it, to manipulate image and responsive association and develop a cognitive dialogue. They are large enough to make a firm statement of presence, but not so large as to be overwhelming.

I enjoy the way the paper taughtens as it dries, the way colours bleed through the paper and the extraordinary luminosity given to the shapes and colours when the screens are backlit. I enjoy their being art that is in and of the active situation, an element in the environment to be acknowledged, negotiated, responded to, not a backdrop to the diorama.

Michele Deveze 2010

Transience
ARTIST STATEMENT

Transience, the brief moment of a model, lost in thought, or counting the unanticipated cramp away. Between today and tomorrow, plans that may be realised, or not; conversations which may be had, or not. Emerging from the tempered ground like wraiths from a mist, but with seeming determination, a purpose of declaring their temporal existence, their entity and being, captured for a brief moment as shapes and lines.


Transience, an ephemeral moment between item, artifact and organic; the once utilitarian receptacle momentarily assumes a quality beyond the prosaic, the macabre reflects unexpected elegance, the redundant indulges a swan song of ethereal beauty, as the detritus again becomes one with the ground.

Transience, a fleeting moment between luxuriating in decadent diurnal dozing and instantaneous acute awareness: a noise, a thought, a flea. With a native grace and subtlety, the animals tempt me with impossible poses, only to be reconsidered at no notice, and replaced with a yet more emphatic statement of litheness, negligence; or a complete reassignment or disappearance.

Transience, the absorption, the obsession, the raison d’etre of the day is an essential thing, always there, never the same. It traces a path on moving sands between the beginning and the end; distracted by temporary diversions, it moves inexorably on.

Michèle Devèze 2009




Twelve Nudes & a Dog
ARTIST STATEMENT

 

My nudes, as though sculpted out of the paper that they are drawn on, retain the character of their ground, in the same way that a sculpture will retain the character of the stone or metal or wood that it is created from. The drawings are a part of the paper, not drawn onto the paper. In drawing the nude I try to convey as much information about the individual – mass, strength, tactility, tension, character, preoccupation – using the minimum amount of artistic device. Consequently the images simultaneously have a sense of solidity and volume while retaining an ethereal transient quality. Like individuals in a moment of resigned indecision, the figures appear poised between bursting out of the constraints of the medium, and dissolving back into the ground from which they were born. The drawings raise the question ‘what happens next?’

I enjoy brown paper. It has a certain honesty and humility; it is reminiscent of the brown canvas aprons that ironmongers wore in the days when bread was sold wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper. It has enough bite to give it character without denying the subtlety of a delicate line. Chinese rice paper embodies all the enigma of Chinese culture. It is made using a centuries-old technique, yet over the epochs has not compromised its relevance; it is delicate and translucent, yet corporeal and with a strong individual character. While brown paper accentuates the strength of a line in chalk or charcoal, rice paper will not hold a strong line, but nor will it release the shadow of a misplaced mark.

The white gesso ground is unforgiving of mistakes in charcoal or chalk, but generously rewards the well placed mark. The use of a white ground on brown paper or rice paper for my nudes demands the assurance to place an unpretentious mark with certainty, and the courage to accept the wrongly placed mark, and insists on the use of tone to accentuate the line rather than to overwhelm or ignore the line.
 

Is there a dog? –  there is no dog
 
Deveze 2008

 

Past Imperfect
ARTIST STATEMENT

 
The imperfect tense, in the classical grammar of several Indo-European languages, denotes a past tense with an imperfective aspect. In English, it is referred to as the past continuous tense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperfect).

Omnivorous, a borrower and a lender both, it has no pride, it has no shame, redefining itself temporally, spatially, culturally; time and again verging on speciation, but retaining enough links to its siblings, albeit tenuous and conflicting, to allow subliminal and interpretative communication.

Symbols, borrow from other symbologies, grow a life of their own, mean things to you other than they meant to me, redefining temporally, culturally, experientally; meaning now other than they meant before. Sensetivities sharpen and dull, layering and exposing, remembering, forgetting; and maybe one day we will know the place for the first time. Or not.

The words the symbols the feelings the meanings. That are there that were not there that were there before that are there now. The same sounds the same shapes different meanings. What I said what you said what you heard what I meant
A tense continuum between the past, the present, the future.

When I was drawing I would think I was drawing the best I used to be able to draw. But even then I would kow that I wasn’t drawing as well as I possibly could draw, and that it never would be perfect. It was the best, but I used to know that it wasn’t. It never is.

Once done, it is time to stop, the imperfect belongs to the past.
 
I was drawing
I used to draw
I would draw
 
Even while we are working on a piece, and we are working hard to do the best that we can, even then we know that the work will not be perfect; even in the midst of working we know that we will be dissatisfied with the result, we already see the faults, errors, mistakes; we already are following half a dozen exploratory paths in our minds, far distant to the piece that we are working on, solving and setting more problems, even before the piece that we are working on is resolved, and yet there is a thread which joins all the works, makes sense of them, their evolution, gives the works depth and breadth – although the past may be imperfect, it gives definition to the present and pre-empts the future…

 
Michèle Devèze 2008

 
‘The Red Door – and other myths’
ARTIST STATEMENT

I was lucky enough to be offered an artist’s residency in Beijing in 2004/5. The works exhibited in this show are the product of that residency and are strongly influenced by what I saw and felt and experienced during that time.
 
Beijing in 2004/5 was a city negotiating the pangs of being reborn, again. Memories of graceful or portentous pasts were being obliterated by preparations for an ill-defined future. It was adolescent, gangly and gawky, uncomfortably vacillating between the promise of unsurpassable beauty and the threat of unspeakable ordinariness, ugliness or horror. The city appeared to be only beginning to adjust to its newfound maturity, yet was preparing itself for its international debut by destroying archaic things of simple beauty and constructing visions of cheap tawdry modernity.
 
This exhibition captures my emotional and rational response to a city in which I found myself fascinated by the interplay of its multitudinous and disparate historical and modern influences, from the Dynasties and political/military invasions, to religious, philosophical and cultural invasions. Dynamic articulations and incongruously superimposed artifacts of Beijing’s cultural plethora, are apparent and find expression in the landscape and in the people living in that landscape, and give full depth and resonance to notions of the ‘Chinese psyche’.
 
I found myself overwhelmed by my exposure to, and comprehension of, the layers and expressions of a complex and intertwined history and my struggles to interpret what appeared to me to be cultural symbiosis between apparently disparate elements. The cultural assimilation and synthesis is ongoing. It is quite unnerving. Sometimes enigmatic and sometimes only too obvious; welding a new aesthetic and ethos to the generations-old papier-mâché of cultural layering, C21st Beijing presents a diaspora of, what to the Westerner, is often a bizarre amalgam of apparently conflicting philosophies that comfortably inhabit parallel strata in the Beijingers  psyche and society, unquestioningly validated, and enthusiastically, if occasionally naively, promulgated.

Whilst the remnants of Beijing’s many pasts often created ironic paradoxes and surreal juxtapositions, I found it remarkable and reassuring that the people and the environment, despite constant cultural and economic pressures, continued to maintain a tenacious hold on essential ‘Chineseness’. The present, in its many guises, both familiar and foreign, unswervingly careens ahead – as Beijing is poised for massive social, cultural and economic transformation, this exhibition captures the exciting essence of Beijing today, teetering on explosion or implosion, prior to becoming whatever it will be tomorrow.

‘The Red Door – and other myths’ explores contemporary Chinese philosophy and aesthetic, and the interplay between the artefacts of an intricate history of cultural invasions and their expression in contemporary landscapes, by juxtaposing graphic elements and cultural or personal symbols and metaphors, and creating a dynamic that can only be interpreted by the viewer in the third person, as I felt I was interpreting the life I saw and felt around me in Beijing.

One of the biggest but most obvious challenges of preparing the work for this show was to avoid creating a ‘travelogue’ or a colonial collectors itemisation of anthropological and cultural curios. Similarly, reference to Communism and the Dynasties, although necessary, had to avoid the blatant and banal. In Beijing I found myself continually aware of the synergies and tensions between translucent layerings of the paraphernalia attended by the multitude of influences on modern Chinese life, and found that my artistic interest in expressions of dimensionality - mechanical, temporal, cultural, conceptual and philosophical, found ready voice in this environment.  
 
The works are ‘layered’ to indicate the ‘layering’ of values and time as a multi-dimensional objects construct. Images or metaphors sometimes ‘bleed through’ to each other, and sometimes obscure each other. In my works I use ‘acquired objects’ as well as my own drawing and painting, and photographs that I take and manipulate. I select images as metaphors for certain concepts or conditions.
 
2007  Michèle Devèze
 


 
things of flesh and stone 
ARTIST STATEMENT

 

 
The last few years have been very important emotionally and artistically for me, and I feel that I have reached a watershed in my artistic development, and maturity in my creative responses to important personal occasions and my emotional processing of these events. These events have resulted in a body of work exploring and expressing the emotional landscape that I have traveled over the past few years. To deal with new experiences and understandings I had to invent new processes of rationalisation; similarly, to express these emotions and understandings, I needed to invent a suitable depictive process.

The body of work that I am exhibiting comprises eight large works on paper. I work predominantly in mixed media monochromes and organic colours, and use collage as a tonal underlay, an illustrative vehicle, or as an intrinsic expressive surface element essential to the pictorial grammar of my work. Layered compression and abstraction of space allows conceptual manipulation to suggest the building of memories, experiences and images, as well as technical construction and building of textures. Cognitive and structural dynamic tensions, synergies, sympathies and stresses are established by developing the interrelationships between form, shape, line, texture, colour and tone. I exploit these relationships to explore subliminal emotional responses.

Structures and objects attract me by their geometry and tonal balance, the implicit but unexpressed history or significance of elements, and their relationship to myself and my own life experience. In my works on paper I attempt to evoke a history or deeper feeling than the sensual satisfaction than can be achieved by a well-balanced composition, by distilling the essential sentiment or atmosphere of a structure, environment or emotion and trying to elicit an innate response in the viewer. The work may stimulate the surfacing of formerly lost or forgotten sensory memories; or may provoke curiosity about before, after, who, what, when, where, why and how. The works essentially try to tack the subject to the now, while stating that the now is no more nor no less important than the past or the future.

My composite works are irrational. They emanate from a reservoir of sense that is barely pictorial, let alone verbal. The works originate with personal experience, and may sometimes operate as a cathartic exercise, yet at other times as an examination, expansion or explanation of a recently experienced emotional response. They evolve with minimal intervention from my conscious self, and express deep, raw, heartfelt but indefinable emotions or responses to personal situations, challenges or crises.

Rather than representing a particular time, place or event, I try to express enigmatic sensations, feelings and atmosphere. The works deal with the perceived and sensual rather than observed and conceived subject matter, and evoke sensations, feelings, emotions, and responses by the use and juxtaposition of texture, form, shape, image, line, tone and colour. To achieve this level of communication, recognisable images as well as organic shapes and evocative textures, colours or materials are used. The pictorial elements and essences stem from unconscious necessity, and have little literal or traditional symbolic relationship to the sentiment expressed.

Few people experience or interpret life or art in the same way. This is one of the mysteries and beauties of life and art. I do not expect, and possibly, do not even want, the viewer to understand or become familiar with my private emotional landscape, rather, I hope that viewers will be stimulated by these works to individual and unique emotional sensations. If these works elicit an emotional response from the viewer, be it similar to that that I held while creating them, or not, the works have achieved as much as I could hope for.
 
2005  Michèle Deveze
 

 

Chamber Music Prints 
ARTIST STATEMENT

 
Earlier this year I was invited to draw the musicians rehearsing and performing at the Australian Chamber Music Festival in Townsville.

These resulting works are inspired by the sketches that I did at the concerts and rehearsals. The prints attempt to portray the atmosphere of the Chamber Music Festival, and particularly the two Cathedral venues at which the recitals were held, and to capture the ecstatic frenzy and sublime pleasure of the musicians performing at the festival.

The prints are predominantly linocut and woodcut with chine colle. The two digital prints provide punctuation to the artistic argument. Independently the works portray evocative moments of the performances that I attended. Viewed as a whole, the works develop a rhythm and resonance in the interplay between repeated themes, colours and shapes. I hope that this mimics the musical and atmospheric experience of the Australian Chamber Music Festival.
 
Michèle Deveze, October 2004