Alizée Gazeau at Gr_und / Berlin

Alizée Gazeau, Häutung

January 20 to February 5 2023

Gr_und Seestraße 49, 13347 Berlin

photos credits: Alizée Gazeau

An End to a Sentence, a conversation
between Alizée Gazeau and Lisa Deml

Lisa Deml: The impression that settled
on my mind when I first came to see this series of painting in your
studio was that of maturity. To me, these paintings are a very clear
and condensed expression of different lines of thought and
experimentation that you have been following for several years. They
seem to have grown through practice and now coincide with your first
solo exhibition. How is this exhibition situated in your artistic
development, what does it mean to mark this point in time?

Alizée Gazeau: I consider this
exhibition as an opportunity to end a first sentence. I invoke the
notion of a sentence, but you could also say it marks the end of a
first journey. My work is concerned with process itself and I have
the feeling that I could develop the same idea further indefinitely.
In this sense, the exhibition at gr_und is also a challenge for me to
put an end to this process. Even though I would never say that this
process is finished, I have reached a point when I can let it settle
down and let go. When the work enters into an exhibition space, it
does not belong to me anymore, it is not about me anymore—the work
has to speak for itself, as Louise Bourgeois would insist. She says
that an artwork has nothing to do with the artist; it has to stand
for itself. I find this credo helpful to navigate the tension between
the intimacy inherent in artworks and the extrovert nature of

Lisa Deml: This is not only your first
solo exhibition but also the first time that you work in painting and
to this scale. How did you arrive at this discipline and format of
200x300cm? Would you say that it is the result of a measure of trust
and confidence you have gained in the process?

Alizée Gazeau: I felt the need to not
only engage the hand and the eye in the work process but to involve
the whole body. It is a very physical process as I work on the floor
and pull and place the hammock and the net on the canvas. And it is
not only a physical experience for me in the production process but
also for the viewer in front of the paintings. I wanted the paintings
to be bigger than us, so that they create an immersive sensation that
exceeds the human body.

Lisa Deml: Given the expansive format
of these paintings, how do you approach the canvas to begin with?

Alizée Gazeau: The paintings make me
as much as I make them. It is a conversation between me and the
various materials involved in the process, the canvas, the net, the
hammock, colour and water. With these components, I create an
environment, a framework within which the painting can emerge. Of
course, the work process is different with every painting, there are
different layers and rhythms at play each time. But what
characterises my process is that I organise a situation on canvas and
then leave the studio while the painting takes form. I return to it
when everything has dried and I can remove the hammock and net to
discover how they have impressed themselves on the surface. I very
much enjoy this moment of revelation because it is often surprising.
It is almost like a laboratory where I arrange the experimental setup
and observe how it develops on its own. It is a delicate balance
between controlling and letting go. While the first part of the work
process is determined by my decisions and choices, the second part is
beyond my command. So, even though this series of works are
undeniably paintings, I would not call myself a painter.

Lisa Deml: As you mentioned the idea of
the skin, this takes us to the title of the exhibition—Häutung.
This notion of skinning seems to resonate on so many levels with your
artistic practice, with the paintings themselves and their aesthetic
impression, as well as with your work process and development as an
artist. How do you relate the idea of Häutung to your practice?

As my work is concerned with the
process itself, it is strongly connected to the concept of
metamorphosis. For me, the process of printing relates to a
continuous struggle to come to terms with the perpetual evolution and
movement in which we are all implicated. Printing or imprinting are
ancestral practices, ways to experience or own existence, for
instance through handprints in stone or fossils. I had already
produced prints with different found objects from the environment
when I found the fishing net. It reminded me of fish skin itself—an
interesting paradox, that the net mimics that which it is supposed to
catch. The hammock is also a curious object that is allowing us to
lie down and rest in nature, precisely by protecting us from the
natural ground. Eventually, I moved away from natural elements
towards tools that humans produced in order to enter into a
conversation with what is called “nature”. In many ways, this is
very similar to artistic practice, and to my artistic practice in
particular. Both the hammock and the net are permeable and ambivalent
between controlling or letting go. And once I have printed them on
canvas, they become something else altogether and take on a second