Centre international d'art et du paysage

Lydia Gifford

I Am Vertical / Je suis verticale

20 Mar - 12 Jun 2016

Lydia Gifford, Growth (Detail), 2015
Wood, cotton, fabric dye, cloth, gesso, paint, nails
100 x 150 x 9 cm and 100 x 150 x 10 cm
Courtesy: the artist and Laura Bartlett Gallery,
I Am Vertical / Je suis verticale
20 March – 12 June 2016

For her first exhibition in a French art institution, British artist Lydia Gifford is presenting new paintings whose tactile material are a response to the elemental forces of the Vassiviere landscape. In their interplay between forms of equilibrium and tension the works affirm a powerfully sculptural presence in the art centre’s distinctive architectural setting.

With their textures resulting from repeated overlays of paint and their use of earthy colours, Giffords works are often an interpretation of the body within the landscape. Gifford experiments with pigment and natural release of colour are an ongoing inquiry into how physical material can be pushed and manipulated into forms that respond to the human body. The local presence of china clay from Limoges, of which the artist has a family association, gave Gifford a starting point for the installation. And while these ingredients chime with the materials and colours used by the art centre’s architects, Aldo Rossi and Xavier Fabre, Gifford’s main source of inspiration was the site’s proximity to nature. “When I first visited Vassiviere Island I was especially struck by the water/ land relationship in the context of the artificial lake created by the dam and the weight and density of the local granite”.

Gifford prefers simple working supports such as canvas, wood, cardboard and fabric. As paintings verging on the sculptural, the results incorporate a kind of resistance to the surfaces that give them their equilibrium: her works may be on walls or laid out across the floor, and sometimes even freestanding, in a constant relationship with the scale of the human body. Gifford has an enduring interest in the language of performance, movement and gesture and continues to strive for finished works that give visible expression to bodily movement, and for a
quality of paint suggestive of its transition from liquid to solid.

The exhibition title ”I Am Vertical/ Je suis vertical” takes its inspiration from a poem by American writer and adoptive Londoner Sylvia Plath. “For me the poem evokes someone attempting a relationship with the natural landscape on a physical and temporal level...I’m considering the way this title, taken out of context conjures up a feeling of vulnerability.»

Tags: Lydia Gifford, Aldo Rossi