Brigitte Picavet interview: Recycling the ‘useless’
Recently featured in the book Textile is Alive!, Brigitte Picavet is a textile artist who uses recycling alongside mixed-media techniques. When flicking through the pages of the book, we were struck by her work’s texture and detail, and her clever use of colour.
In our interview with her, Brigitte explains what initially inspired her to become an artist and how her work has evolved since she began.
TextileArtist.org: What initially captured your imagination about textile art?
Brigitte Picavet: As a student of the Royal Academy of Arts in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (the Netherlands) I paid a visit to the Provincial House of Northern Brabant where I saw a work by the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. I was impressed by its monumental size; 22 m x 7.2 m, and the unconventional use of materials, which differed a lot from the more traditional examples I was familiar with at the time.
Another, again female, artist that captured my imagination was the German sculptor Eva Hesse and more recently Louise Bourgeois, although neither of them can be labeled exclusively as textile artists.
What or who were your early influences and how has your life/upbringing influenced your work?
My mother used to sew clothes for my sisters and me, but she also liked drawing and painting as a hobby. She was a gifted women but never had the chance to develop her talents. To some extent she supported me by sending me to drawing classes, but it was never her intention that I should become an artist. My scope was broadened by a drawing teacher at secondary school and by some school friends who drew my attention to Art School.
What was your route to becoming an artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
I attended the Royal Academy of Arts in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and later on I went to the Design Academy in Eindhoven.
Mixed media and recycling
What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?
Mixed media. I prefer to experiment with a wide variety of materials, usually a mixture of more conventional techniques like oil paint and textiles in combination with dust for example. As a textile artist, I’m a big fan of recycling; I use remains and all kinds of disposables and refuse, such as plastic bottles, objects and materials frequently looked upon as useless or disturbing, especially for those who prefer a perfect world and luxury.
Beauty and Decay
How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
My work deals with beauty and decay, often depicted in the arts by the floral theme and nature. I like to combine opposites, seemingly incompatible subjects that are both attractive and hurt at the same time. I feel related to collage and assemblage artists.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
I like to listen to music while working. I like to work on site-specific projects, to collaborate with other artists. I prefer working on the spot, and invite visitors to respond to my work. Their remarks make me feel alive and make it all worthwhile. I find that children in particular have the gift to express their feelings straightaway. It is a great joy to make them aware of the importance of art.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
Lately I have invited colleagues to respond to and literally interfere with my work. I am now working on an interdisciplinary project called The Wall, based upon the novel by Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer. It is about isolation, the will to survive in a hostile world, but also about vulnerability; the power of nature and death. It is a collaborative project with visual artist Myrthe Rootsaert, video artist Annemarie van den Thillart and composer Paul Gelsing.
On the one hand I like raw art by artists such as American painter Philip Guston and British painter Francis Bacon. I like the necessity of it. On the other hand I like the minimal paintings of American painter Agnes Martin and Dutch artist Jan Schoonhoven.
Tell us about a piece of work you have fond memories of and why?
Recently I submitted a work for a contest organized by the local Jan Cunen Museum, Oss, the Netherlands. Artists were invited to respond to a work in the ongoing exhibition, which was curated by Dutch socialist politician Jan Marijnissen. The work that particularly appealed to me was made by Erik Andriesse; a monochrome red lithograph of an Amaryllis. My work, Aquilegia discolor (heavy flowers) won the public prize. Later this year I will be given the opportunity to show this work in the museum.
Looking to the future: Assemblage, collage and installation art
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
At first I focused on expressionist and abstract painting, but now I prefer mixed media, assemblage, collage and installation art. My aim is working together with other artists of different backgrounds and innovation.
Where can readers see your work this year?
My installation Tafeltje dek je (named after a fairy tale by Grimm), will be on display from May 20th until the end of September 2013, as part of a sculpture trail near the river Meuse, in the municipality of Oss. It is made in collaboration with video artist Annemarie van den Thillart and consists of two parts. More information will soon be published on www.maasmeanders.nl
Furthermore a solo exhibition is planned this year in the Museum Jan Cunen, Oss. More info: www.museumjancunen.nl
For further information please visit: www.brigittepicavet.com or Brigitte’s Linked in profile
If you’ve enjoyed this article, tell us what you like about Brigitte’s work by leaving a comment below.