Michele Deveze

Twelve Nudes & a Dog


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