Le Journal Interviews



Agathe de Bailliencourt is a French artist born in 1974 and currently living in Berlin. Working both in her studio on canvas, paper or linen and also outdoors directly onto urban space, architecture or nature, the artist feeds one medium with the experience of the other in a constant dialogue. Couleur du Temps is Agathe de Bailliencourt’s paintings series created during the artist’s three month residency at Marfa Contemporary in Texas.

Can you please describe to us briefly your “Couleur du Temps” series? 

Agathe de Bailliencourt: This series is made on raw linen canvas; I’m using a lot of water, watercolor techniques and acrylic paint. The idea of the shade was developed during an installation in a field that I realized in upstate New York during the Art Omi residency in 2012. For the series, the experience of this installation is very important. Initially, the idea of the shade was inspired by a 74 French film by Jacques Demy.

Why is the new series called “Couleur du temps”?
In the film there is a sequence about this idea of “color of time”, a surreal image where Catherine Deneuve is wearing a dress and clouds are passing by, reflecting directly onto the dress as a moving pattern. “Couleur du temps” means “Color of time” and also “Color of the weather”. In French the word “Temps” means both time and weather and I like this idea that my work is dealing with both. I mean the relation of the two: time and weather. I think it’s very interesting, imagining what an image of a landscape could look like.

If we compare this series to your older works, we notice an important evolution. Can you explain this evolution? Why did you stop, for instance, using words in your artworks?
I actually haven’t stopped writing; I’m still using words and repetition, with pencil or ink, on my drawings on paper. In the last series in New York in 2012, I was using words to “write a landscape”, I’m interested in a “description” of a landscape, rather than a representation.

Nature plays an important role in your whole body of work. In this series, attention is focused on the horizon. Are you trying to define it?
I like the line of the horizon because it speaks about so many things simultaneously, so many dimensions and ideas. I like when things are open and not so categorized, moving beyond categories, like inside and outside, for example. So it’s not really a definition, more a description, describing something else, behind the horizon, perhaps.

Why did you choose to work on raw linen?
I was trying to return to my experience in the field. I wanted to work with this impression of painting on the grass again. I realized that raw linen canvas reacts to everything in an almost uncontrollable way. It takes vast amounts of time for each layer to dry. It’s a direct sensation of a natural process, a very direct experience of time and material. Every action is visible. At the same time, I am laying bare the entire process of producing a landscape image.

How do you control water while creating and are you trying to control everything?
There are limits of control. Of course there’s an experimental side to it, an element of accident. Wonderful things happen, sometimes, when things get out of control.

Agathe de Bailliencourt Installation view at exhibition MARFA
Installation view at exhibition MARFA Contemporary | Marfa Texas | Image courtesy: Bob Anderson

What was your experience in Marfa? Is there something specific that inspired you there?
I went to Marfa for its landscapes, its incredible skies and horizons and for its very special light. It was beautiful to see the site-specific installations that other artists did at the Chianti Foundation, of course Donald Judd, but also Roni Horn and Dan Flavin’s work, in the natural environment of Marfa, how the work is inspired. My three months in Marfa were an exceptional chance to be able to focus and develop the work in the middle of nowhere…