Louise Caroline, Artist of the Month, The Riviera Woman, 1 September 2016
'Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible', Paul KLEE, 1920.
My Art Form : Repurposed industrial material
'I believe in deeply ordered chaos', Francis Bacon.
Louise Caroline’s support medium is no ordinary canvas but an art form in its own right, embodying the triumph of aesthetics over dis-order. She treats ink-saturated cast-off textiles of incandescent colours as ciphers inviting interpretation: “The music and vibrancy of colours, the gracefulness of shapes combine with changing textures in the material to inflame my imagination, blazing an unending trail of powerful, intimate, and tragically elusive visions. It is a sensory encounter. A mysterious language of signs suddenly becomes intelligible”.
‘To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.’ John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, 1851-3.
Using a diversity of textiles has provided Louise Caroline with an exceptional opportunity to translate a language of her own on canvas. Given her source material, Louise Caroline’s artwork necessarily starts as a long, crafty technical process (from the rescuing of the fabrics, the drying, washing, crease removing, stretching, trimming, steaming, ironing, to their final framing ). While her eye and hand sublimate the fine weft of the fabric what matters most to Louise Caroline are the “epiphanies” which take place in such incongruous contexts.
These eruptive mysterious moments of psychic intensity and emotional importance acquire such an expansive relevance that they can no longer be suppressed: They become the expression of an interior landscape, revealing the artist’s psyche and soul--what Roberto Matta, the painter of Psychological Morphology, aptly calls an 'inscape'.
Louise Caroline likes to define herself as a visual artist, but in the yarn she spins there is much more than meets the eye …
Louise Caroline’s approach is the result of a cross-pollination of art forms with which she has always been enamoured, whether musical, architectural, or pictorial, classical or contemporary. Bringing back to life subjects that lay dormant on these cloths becomes an adventure in plasticity, an endeavour to capture the sublimity of chaos, thus plunging into the maelstrom of creation and leaving one painfully aware of the impenetrability of the universe.
Louise Caroline lives in Provence where she was born. Her life has been fashioned by a series of determining encounters, whether familial, intellectual or sensorial. With ancestors in cloth-making and kinfolk in printing, she was bound to weave her own canvas once she had met with the giants of painting while living in New York, London and Paris.
Louise Caroline started developing an artistic practice when at Goldsmiths’ College of Arts, London. From Drama to photography, including an introduction to silk-screen printing, she built confidence in her creative approach to images and communication. Since then her immersion in different world cultures has kept feeding her appetite for forms of expression that capture and communicate her diverse perceptual experiences and the troubles they can suscitate.
Music, ranging from rock, blues, and jazz to symphonies, features high among her sources of inspiration, together with vivid memories of literature avidly read from childhood and the deep impressions left by her journeys of discovery on four continents . But her work is primarily a response to the sensuous beauty of sculpture stimulating her to harness the colours and the shapes that people these cloths to personal visions, at times attaining subconscious images, with unerring sureness.
The beauty of textiles
Textiles have been regarded as the ultimate artistic form. In the words of the XIX century theorist of architecture Gottfried Semper, “they can be seen as it were, as the primeval art form from which all other arts –not excepting ceramics, borrowed their types and symbols, whereas it itself seems quite independent in this respect. Textile types evolved within the art itself or were borrowed directly from nature… Even language borrows its terms for describing … concepts from textiles” (Gottfried Semper, Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts, Or, Practical Aesthetics, 1861-1863).
Louise Caroline's "approach to art is very unique et [her] aesthetic work clearly shows a deep understanding for the sensibility of material and colour" ( Dr Sven Beckstette, conservateur, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, 6 June 2014).
Men and women committed to sex equality
The French artist Louise Caroline dressed a dummy with an authentic XIX century chemise in order to symbolize the arduous fight for physical liberation and political emancipation: the undergarment made of coarse linen, was worn next to the skin to protect women’s bodies from the bruises of the whalebone, the ancestor of the corset, which imprisoned their waists; the festoons around the collar painstakingly painted by the artist point to the protracted debates on the woman question.
The dummy however is noticeably male. But its two-coloured head evokes the feminine (red) part in all men (just like there is a masculine (black) one in all women, and its battered shoulders the collaborative engagement of men AND women in the struggle for sex equality. The chromatic effect of the red is dominating, a voluntary recall of the beheading of women who dared claim their rights by the French revolutionaries…
Fabric is Louise Caroline’s favourite canvas. Textum and Texere (weaving in Latin) significantly have the same etymology. Her installation is an « œuvre- texte », both text and wowen artwork. The chemise is embroidered with a real woman’s initials on the front and has therefore an intimate life of its own; but its transformation by the artist (who has penned on it historical names intertwined in two colours) not only gives shape to the collaboration of sexes but brings back to life hundreds of male and female champions of emancipation. Some were celebrated, a few unknown, many forgotten, but their writings and /or combats all contributed to fighting against sexual prejudices: Edward Carpenter shares the limelight with Elisée Reclus; Condorcet with Stuart Mill; Florence Nightingale with Germaine de Staël or Olympe de Gouges.
At the foot of the installation lies a large quantity of books, pamphlets, essays, sermons etc inviting re-discovery.
Left free of names by the artist, the top of the artwork suggests that the history of emancipation is still in the making...
Why I use cast-offs
When the printer in his workshop grabs disused cotton sheets to wipe off the excess of ink released from his colour fountains, his hand produces a miraculous waste, precious, generous spills that the fabrics soak up and trans-form. Once discarded or binned, unseen and despised, discreetly, they are neverthelesss secretly at work. All these fabrics were first organic material ; wowen into sheets, then worn and shaped by a multiplicity of people, they have had a life of their own that Louise Caroline is set on rediscovering.
The patient deciphering of those cast-offs –the enhancing of colours, the accentuating of lines, the discovery of delicate wefts and patterns, the exposure of beautiful tears, the restoration of the past splendor of the original cloth --, the artist’s exclusive approach to “painting” and “spinning”--, gives each and every one of them a new lease of life: Louise’s creative re-imaginings suggest or reveal fascinating, forgotten, or untold stories-- the secrets of forsaken textiles. LC