A drawing… a line! Meeting with Gilles Pourtier
#DRAWING From August 30 to September 1, 2019, the 6th edition of the international contemporary drawing exhibition Paréidolie was held in Marseille. This fair, which distinguished itself by its demanding selection and its openness to modern and emerging approaches to drawing, presented the work of Gilles Pourtier, guest artist. Born in 1980 and currently living in Marseille, Gilles Pourtier went through various artistic formations before devoting himself to photography. He conceives his work as an opening on visual fields, thus creating new images, giving life to new objects. For Paréidolie, he plays with paradoxical links between photography and drawing, in minimalist and abstract graphic works. Meeting!
Marlène Pegliasco: Can you tell us about your career path?
Gilles Pourtier: I was born in 1980 in the Drôme, and after studying Modern Literature, I moved towards a CAP in restoration/creation of stained glass windows on an alternating basis over two years. The training centre was located in a small village near Nancy. It was on this occasion that I realized the creative possibilities of glass material. We had art history and representation classes. Afterwards, I followed the training of the European Centre for Research and Training in Glass Arts (CERFAV) which will lead me to work for four years in London at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College. In 2006, I entered the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie d’Arles (ENSP) from which I graduated in 2009, the year in which I participated in the exhibition “Une attention particulière” during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie. During my three years of study in Arles, I developed a personal work combining photography, sculpture and drawing. For my part, this journey is very important for two reasons. First, I started my higher art studies quite late, but it gave me a clearer and freer vision of what I wanted to do. Secondly, the diversity of my training offered me a certain curiosity.
Marlène Pegliasco: What place does drawing have in your creation?
Gilles Pourtier: Drawing is both a daily and very punctual practice. It seems contradictory but in fact, I draw permanently on different notebooks. I see drawing as both an end in itself and a way to keep ideas for other achievements: sculptures, photographs, videos or others. I try to remain free to face this practice in order to take steps sideways and keep the spontaneity of the drawing that I find saving. Drawing was still present during my training at the ENSP in Arles but I created my first full graphic creations during a residency at 3 bis F in Aix-en-Provence in 2010-2011. It was this particular context that led me to turn to a practice of studio drawing. I drew from photography and so the link was not really broken. Following this residency, I began to show my drawings with my photographs and my practice developed. Now, drawing is a parallel practice that I cross-referenced with photography.
Marlène Pegliasco: Tell us about the proposal made in Paréidolie?
Gilles Pourtier: My proposal for Pareidolia is entitled: “The Nature of Pencil”. This title is a linguistic reversal game based on the first photographic work in history that was produced by William Henry Fox Talbot between June 1844 and April 1846: “The Pencil of Nature”. I was trained as a photographer and I often use photography as my starting point to create. Therefore, when I was contacted by Martine Robin, director of Paréidolie, I immediately thought of this title. Indeed, what could be more interesting and relevant than to question the nature of the pencil during a drawing exhibition? From this premise, I have developed different pieces that question our relationship to the image with a broad acceptance. Photography has revolutionized the economics of image and representation by industrially introducing the notions of reproducibility and its corollary: diffusion. My work is based on reflections on construction and also on the two opposing movements: destruction and deconstruction. For example, how, for centuries, painters have worked to create depth in a flat space: perspective and how, with photography, the opposite movement is based: from a deep space, it makes it flat. Photography was born from the painters’ tool: the camera obscura. From this, I make mason’s line drawings on paper based on perspective plots of some paintings.
Marlene Pegliasco. : What are your inspirations?
Gilles Pourtier: Sol LeWitt, Beverly Buchanan, Ellsworth Kelly, Christopher Wool, Pontormo, William Faulkner, Robert Frank and the drawings of my two daughters.
If you were a drawing? One of Robert Longo’s “Men in the cities
Your favorite technique? As I don’t have any real drawing training, it’s not easy for me to answer you. I learn by practicing.
The most unusual medium to create? Probably the simplest: paper.
“Drawing is like drawing”: Walking.
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