French artist Kerstin Paillard creates abstract compositions on canvas using dry pastels, comparable to highly pigmented chalks, a medium typically used on paper. “I put coat after coat of colored chalk on the canvas, moistening them and piling up one surface on another until these works take on something of the quality of miniature frescoes,” she says. Kerstin’s work is informed by an array of artists including Degas, who used pastels in a similar painterly manner. The pastel artworks in Kerstin’s body of work are akin to soft, ethereal color field paintings with a rich depth of blended color that is typically associated with oil paint. The artist works from a bright and sunny seaside studio in the South of France.
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About The Artist
I began painting at an early age, always attuned to the ways that color and light merged with thought itself. I have a long-held obsession with the skies, their hues and ever changing designs. This fascination has led to a lot of travels and to become the basis of my body of work. In my early works from the 1990s, I started using dry pastels that I experienced and juxtaposed on different medias, with various densities and layers, repeating gestures and forms. These led to related color fields works on linen canvas, with cloud-like forms, light effects, reflections, creating deep, spiritual and celestial paintings. Experimenting the processes and the limits of the dry pastel, I try continuously to refine and extend the traditions of lyrical abstraction, in my exploration of gesture, rhythm and color.
The paintings are only made of pure pigments from the dry pastels that I crush, smash and smear on the canvas. My process is physical and tactile, engaging all of my body and senses. I paint laying on the floor, I need to feel near and part of the painting, working from the four sides, walking around the canvas and literally being in the painting. I put coat after coat of pigments, trying to bring up the best of every tint, its depth, vibrations, force and sensibility. The gesture is intense and specific, the pace high, the composition completed in my mind, the work is made in one sitting and the degrees of separation between feeling and fulfillment are narrow. To preserve the special aspect of dry pastel and the brightness and deepness of the pure pigments, and to heighten the effect of each color, I have developed a unique process of varnishing the pastels on the canvas by applying the mixture in many thin layers, in order to get the same finish as an oil painting.
I am moved by color relationships, but I don’t want my pictures appreciated solely for their spectral qualities. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them. I'm interested in expressing strong emotions and deep feelings, creating a meaningful dialogue with the spectators, envelop the viewers in a particular atmosphere, and inviting them to take part of an immaterial world, filled with serenity, existentialism and poetry.
I love the abstract for its lack of representation and total freedom, and I urge the viewers to seek personal spirituality by projecting their own internal ideas onto my canvas. The expected effect of my paintings is an intense emotion or ethereality.
Université Paul Valéry Montpellier
Master of Arts, 2005
Villa Arson NiceBachelor of Arts, 2000