The common touch

“Beauty is everywhere. It is not that she is lacking to our eye, but our eyes which fail to perceive her.”

Those words by Auguste Rodin can be felt in works of French artist Raphaele de Broissia.

De Broissia, who uses everyday materials to make her pieces, is bringing her artwork Ochre Stone (US$1,900) at the 2019 Art Next Expo.

Though made of masking tape, latex and ink on paper the work resembles bas-relief. The sandy landscape-like patchwork effect is achieved by emphasizing the innate natural quality of the pleated tape.

From afar, the artwork looks so much like a desert that it is hard to believe that it is actually made of organic materials.

De Broissia has perfected using such materials and technique.

In 2012 in France, she used balloons, duct tape and chicken wire to build a large installation. But it was one of Hong Kong’s native foods that reminds her of the technique she used seven years ago.

“The Hong Kong fish-drying tradition is very conspicuous in Sheung Wan, where I live. That’s very new to me because we don’t have dried food in France,” Broissia said.

However, the original source of her inspiration dates back to one of the most significant and influential avant-garde movements to emerge in Southern Europe in the late 1960s: Arte Povera – the Italian phrase for “poor art.”

Artists in the movement used the common materials of pre-industrial times for their works. These include soil, rock, clothing, paper and rope – literally “poor” or cheap materials reused to create art.

This challenged established values and criticized the industrialization and mechanization of Italy at the time.

“Usual things can be beautiful,” de Broissia said, adding that recreating everyday materials abandoned in the industrial age can “bring them new meaning and life.”

Both her experience in studying textiles at the Paris Beaux-Arts school and working in high-fashion brands were the beginning of her journey to explore different materials.

So it is not difficult to understand why she uses fabrics in her works from time to time.

She has even made a coat out of balloons, masking tape, fabric and ink, which can lead viewers to a surprising feeling of nature, sea and land through the tracery and the meandering of her tape ribbons.

Instead of having a complete sketch, either in her mind or on the paper, she plays with materials by using different shapes and movements, and tries to find out what she could do with varying forms.

“When I work, I don’t think about the result,” said de Broissia.

And that is the reason why she like masking tape and balloons most.

Mixing the two materials by diverse techniques like using glue or heating, she found various possibilities, which turned her artworks into a new look.

“Because of the materials that I used, every piece of mine is unique,” she said

Different people can have different views of her abstracts, she said, but ultimately her works are a dialogue with life and nature.

The fact is that the opportunity of communicating with different people and listen to their diverse understanding of artworks is rare to artists like de Broissia, who always stay in the studio and seldom go out.

It is also difficult for the audience to directly know the artist’s ideas and the story behind their works.

However, the upcoming 2019 Art Next Expo on November 1 to 4 invites more than 100 artists from all over the world to be at the Expo, providing a direct, intimate platform for artist to connect with collectors and art lovers.

Director Judy Inn said it is an opportunity for art collectors to meet talented artists and purchase high-quality artworks at reasonable prices.

But for those who don’t buy art, Inn added it’s an art-world party for having fun.

The Expo has been held twice — in 2015 and 2017 — but this will be de Broissia’s first.

“It’s not about people buying my work or not,” she said. “It’s a good exercise to think about what we do.”

(This article was published at The Standard on September 27, 2019: Weekend Glitz: The common touch )

190927 The common touch

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