Camille Mercandelli-Park

French visual artist, born in 1979, lives andworks in Ivry sur Seine, her work revolves mainly around the practice of drawing and volume (glazed ceramic and Korean paper).

SinceI was a child, painting and drawing have been my favourite means ofexpression, probably encouraged by my father, a technical draftsmanand watercolour artist in his spare time. After graduating with aMasters from the Beaux-Arts School in Paris, I taught drawing andpainting for ten years and in 2015 became an art teacher in apediatric cancer hospital unit.

Beingaround suffering people, brushing with illness and death, had aprofound impact on me, and my artistic practice changed in responseto the questions raised throughout that challenging experience.Indeed, when the physical body is altered, when its vital functionstake over its whole life, what is left of our individuality? Is itpossible to give a shape to mental space?

Towardsan archaeology of the image:

Myartistic output tends to define the topography of that inner space,but also to materialize the thoughts, feelings and emotions whichcoexist beneath the skin. My works offer a space to travel around, aplace meant both for reflection and rest—a space of privacy and ofopenness to the world.

Today,my research has more to do with the relations between surface andinner world, playing with the idea of the “Skin Self” developedby psychiatrist Didier Anzieu in his book bearing that title*.He suggests an analogy between the workings of the psyche and theanatomical workings of the skin, a surface of contact and exchangebetween the inner body and the outside world. In my work, the outerand the inner surfaces are opposites but also complementary. Thesheet of paper becomes the metonym for the skin surface,simultaneously outside and inside.

Myartistic research develops along associations of thoughts, whereby asubject drifts into another half-way between a sense of likeness andnon-figuration. I start with a surface where a system proceeds togrow like living organisms. All living beings need an environment inorder to grow: a pond, a matrix. Thus, by starting from a stain, ageometric space defined as the basic environment, I tend to developincreasingly complex, expanding forms. This “growth” of each workprogresses until it reaches the confines of the given surface along atime-frame that varies according to the surface to be “inhabited.”The bounded space turns into a place of metamorphosis where thepainting is “grown,” and the expansion is made though layeredgestures which tend to both hide and reveal its origin, keeping theinside and the outside in coexistence on the contact surface, thusbuilding an archaeology of the image. Thisis why I also explore the analogies between architecture and anatomy.“Sectional” is actually a word common to both fields: across-sectional view shows the outside of a building while alsoletting you see the inside on the same plane, just as an anatomicalcross-section shows the outer skin and the inner body at the sametime.

Watercolouris my favourite medium because I feel that its liquid componentepitomizes life itself—the water inside all living beings as wellas the amniotic fluid, blood, urine, tears and sweat. Thus, in myeyes, the fluidity of ink and watercolour which diffuse with themotions of water on paper, recall the flows of energy and matterwhich animate living beings. I am also drawn to the organic powerinvolved in creating ceramics, with the unpredictable results of ovenfiring and of some chemical reactions between enamels.

*Didier Anzieu, Le Moi-Peau, Dunod, 1985.   

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