LASALLE College of the Arts is showcasing the talents of its creative professionals in the new Coucou Bazar exhibition being held until March 19, 2022, at the Earl Lu Gallery. Described as a “celebration of art and life”, the show is the outcome of an unique opportunity five lecturers from the School of Fashion and School of Design Communication experienced in 2019.
At the design-led residency programme at the former atelier of the French artist Jean Dubuffet in Vence, France, Nadine Ouellet, Joanne Pang, Vicente Delgado, Corneliu Dinu Tudor Bodiciu and Ginette Chittick were able to focus on new creative investigations outside of their usual arts practice, moving into interdisciplinary areas and trying their hands at new techniques and ideas.
Dubuffet, who is the founder of the Art Brut movement, is best known for his work that is described as “rudimentary mark-making that broke away from traditions”. Inspired by Dubuffet’s creative environment, the five artists were likewise enticed into ‘breaking away’ from their own traditions, leading to the creation of the new pieces featured in the Coucou Bazar exhibition.
For Nadine Ouellet, the central learning point was that we are all “flexible and forever able to learn”.
“That there are no boundaries of disciplines for open, willing, and creative minds. Jean Dubufffet was the incarnation of that – an interdisciplinary artist experimenting with printmaking, outdoor sculpture, dance, theatre, poetry, theoretical texts, played jazz, etc,” says Nadine who is the Head, School of Design Communication and Programme Leader, Diploma in Design for Communication and Experiences and BA(Hons) Design Communication.
“Jean Dubuffet was the founder of the Art Brut movement – breaking from tradition through a naive approach to art in reaction to high culture – his art ideology really changed my approach to typography. I used to take a modernist and purist approach to typography. Through the residency, I’ve learned to let go, to embrace the imperfection of letter forms and to look at forms as expressive voices,” Nadine says.
Joanne Pang, Lecturer, Design Communication, explains that her art became bolder after her time at the residency: “I worked with bolder gestures of mark-marking, allowing nature and emotions to be the driving force of process. There was more spontaneity and freedom that came out of it.”
She also says that she was able to experiment more freely and was opened up to “new ways of thinking and making, learning through the workshops conducted by my peers”. “I will continue to explore the new forms and materials that we were exposed to during the residency, and to collaborate with other disciplines in the creation of new works,” says Joanne.
Lecturer in Design Communication Vicente Delgado, not only appreciated the opportunity to explore new areas of art practice during the residency, he also enjoyed the time he was able to spend with his fellow artists.
“Residencies are always different and dependent on the conditions, environments and people that you work with. One thing that I noticed during this residency is the fun we had, the companionship was very easy and that is very important for any kind of creative activity,” Vincente explains.
Already a fan of Dubuffet, Vicente, was heartened to be able to focus on the similarities and differences in their art, but was also influenced by movement: “One of the influences from the residency was that we were constantly in movement and that was a big part that contributed to the shape my work took. This residency also opened up a lot of possibilities for collaborations with each other in the residency.
“This interdisciplinary residency made me realise that practises have no limits and boundaries and through meeting of practises new directions emerge. The notion of a specialism or practice in a field is a process of framing, or boundary-making, while the creative field should have no borders and demarcations,” explains Dinu Bodiciu, Programme Leader, BA(Hons) Fashion Design and Textiles and BA(Hons) Fashion Media and Industries.
“The residency enabled my work to take a direction I never imagined, namely from a method of designing and making garments to a typeface. This typeface is not following the principles a Graphic Designer would consider when generating a new font. It doesn’t follow the principles of making garments either. It is somewhere in between, a territory that breaks the boundary of disciplines as I mentioned earlier.
“I believe that this experience will enable me to continue questioning the final purpose of a practice/of an approach and always try to reflect on it from different perspectives, almost like from other disciplines. In terms of the work developed during the residency, the typeface will start becoming garments and the body will experience ways of dressing with these garments, that through design were not meant to dress a body,” Dinu concludes.
For Ginette Chittick, Programme Leader, Diploma in Creative Direction For Fashion, the experience in France recalled her childhood and reminded her of the importance of incorporating nature into her art practice.
“As a child I grew up in a house near a beautiful reservoir that had a big garden. I spent hours in both spaces just staring at plants, the sky, bodies of water and even tiny insects. With the residency in the beautiful mediaeval town of Vence, at Dubuffet’s amazing studio with its large windows facing the hilly landscape, I reconnected with that child in me again and this approach also resonates with Dubuffet’s approach towards art — playful and childlike,” explains Ginette.
“My previous work was always more geometric in nature, and I worked with materials that were more consistent with my design and fashion practises such as acrylic and yarn. In more formal attributes, my work took on a painterly quality with the way I manoeuvred my yarn forms to create abstracted representations of the flora and topography of the town. My work also came off the walls and took on sculptural forms with off-cut wood blocks found discarded in workshop floors (with Totems) and junked material from fabric bags (with Falling Into).
“With my piece, Organica, it’s a clear axis of all the varied strands of these practises coming together. Tufted textile, handspun Kapok & Merino Wool yarn, organic shapes that have taken form without planning — I use the tufting gun as I would a pencil sketching out forms and ideas. What clearly remains is the trace of the maker’s hand and domestic craft approaches used to the making of the work.”
To see the work inspired by Vance and Dubuffet, visit Coucou Bazar at the Earl Lu Gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts, until Saturday, March 19, 2022. The gallery is open Mon–Sat (closed on Sun, public holidays and during College closures), and admission is free. For more information about LASALLE Collection of the Arts, go to www.lasalle.edu.sg.
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