Cendrine Rovini is a French artist making beautiful drawings, paintings, and mixed media work incorporating themes of delicacy and lightness, and they’re all kinds of beautiful! Melanie Maddison spoke with her about what she’s currently up to and how she came to make the work she does.
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Hi Cendrine, how are you? Could you tell Pikaland readers a little about yourself and what you are working on at the moment?
Hello Pikaland people, I am fine, thank you! I am a french artist and I live in the mountains of the centre of France, in a little city named Aurillac. I use to work on paper mostly, sometimes wood and fabric, I draw and make mixed medias. I am currently working on collaborations with Irish artist Jane O’ Sullivan and swedish artist Nicole Natri, and also focusing on the next big work I want to do: a mixed media on a beautiful big format tintoretto (a very fine panel of blond wood).
How did you first get started in art, is it something that you’ve always been interested in and excelled at? How long have you been creating art, embracing your creativity, and working towards developing your current style and output?
When I was a child, as every child, I spent many time drawing but I also used to secretly include this activity during the class at school, I was often immersed into my inner world, my imagination, and I used to be in love with art museums and books of images. As an adult I first taught Spanish language in a college, and I hated being a teacher. So I realized around the 30 years old that I only wanted to create, and I decided to make everything possible for it. It took almost five years for the identity of my work to appear; many years of self-education, of careful gaze on the things and people surrounding me and the memory of the hours spent in company of my father working (he is a sculptor). Finally a few years ago, the actual flow of images, or what someone could name my “current style” appeared by itself in a few weeks. I realized it when I saw that at a certain point, some formal cohesion was present drawing after drawing.
Why do you create? What is it about being creative that makes it something important for you to do?
I create because I have no other choice, and I am very bad at any other occupation. Creating is part of my personality and if you remove it from me, I may become a ghost. When I see an image first before doing it on paper, it may be a torture for me to be unable to transfer it on the visible area.
You have said that you like ‘to create drawings slowly disappearing from the spectator’s eyes’. Where did your interest in such soft, delicate, light imagery come from, and how has your art developed over the years to incorporate it?
I think this special taste came from my love for vintage photographs. You know, these fleeting sepia portraits, this little pigmentation on the old paper, the strange sweet light which seems to erase the shapes. And, as the things I see with my inner eyes come from the realm of the indistinct or hardly seen, when I want to render them on the paper, I try to make them light, so in many of my drawings there are pale colors or elements becoming transparent between the rest of the image.
You work a lot with graphite and coloured pencils, and also with mixed media on paper or fabric. What is it about these mediums that you enjoy? How do you create your images?
I love working on paper because its texture often inspires me by itself, this white and free space makes me able to almost literally “see” the contours of the image to be done. I first begin with graphite pencil, the oval of the face or the main shape of my figure and when this is placed on my paper, I merely distinguish the rest of the lines appearing, then the colors and details slowly emerge before my eyes and my hand only have to follow it.
Your work very often depicts women, and female life, bodies, and souls. What is it about femininity that draws you to capture its many guises within your work?
Women are the part of human beings I better know, as I am myself a woman! I know how it is in my body, the effect it has on my soul, the mystery and wonder about it. I love the way some women I meet in my imagination can be far from the modern stereotypes, I too love when they are undoubtedly feminine, with all the female traits, and also when they are rougher or threatening and I try to depict them as I saw them in my mind. For me there is not only one image of the woman, I love the multiplicity of the possible beauties or strangeness, and I enjoy trying to explore this. For me women are the multiple, the diverse, the possibility for the human world to be better connected to the Earth and its life, to respect it better and to feel the sacred materiality of the planet in a daily life. Our soul within our body carries so much complexity, that I could be inspired by it all my life, I think.
You work spontaneously without sketching or taking notes. Are the ideas already formed in your head before you sit down to draw?
Most of the time yes, the drawing is already in my mind; this is not an idea, this is an image existing in its totality. I often see them when I am near to fall into sleep, or the morning, when I am at the frontier between sleep and waking. I don’t think the images are born in my head, this place is just the place for me to collect them awaiting the moment to make them visible. I imagine they come from far, they were perhaps already in the head of someone else before I was able to catch them and draw?
You have recently been exhibiting work in the UK at the Duckett & Jeffrey’s gallery. I understand that this work is collaborative, with each piece being passed between you in France and another artist in the UK. Could you tell us a little about this, and the !process of working jointly on art pieces with another artist? Did you enjoy the process, and the outcomes?
This show ended last 31st of March at the Duckett & Jeffreys Gallery in Malton (UK), it was named The Spirit of Two and it presented a body of collaborative pieces with the English artist Chris Czainski. We worked about the inner initiatic path, when we are in front of a personal ordeal and the way we can know ourselves better and find new resources during such moments. We began the common works and sent them to each other so we can complete them; it was big format mixed medias on fabric, with dark felt, threads, beads, and graphite… I enjoyed working on this project because, even if our styles are different, we were like in the same undercurrent of imagination, everything was easy and natural between Chris’ work and mine.
What sort of aesthetic things do you like; for example where do you work from, and what images/artefacts keep you company in your studio / place(s) of work?
I love being surrounded by beautiful things, art or objects of the usual life, and I pay attention to the quality of the light, by day or by night, it may inspire me or place me in a peculiar mood for beginning my work. During the day, I enjoy my studio because my table of work is just in front of the window and I can see the garden, the river flowing and the streets of the city, at night I love the intimacy of the lonely light focusing on my paper and contrasting with the darkness of the rest of the room, I feel like I am in a bubble of warmth, isolated in there from the rest of the world with my nascent image. I need the near presence of the letters and gifts of my friends, artists, and of my art books.
How do you manage your time in order to devote as much time as you’d like to your art?
When my children are not at home with me, I can spend my time creating without any interruption, but even like that I need to go away from my work table several times a day, I take a break, I make myself some tea, I spend some time on the computer, I read or cook for the next meal. In a certain way it is part of my work too, all the little daily acts are important for me, they don’t separate me from the inner world. I feel lucky to have the possibility to only work like that.
What’s your relationship to confidence, with regards to making and sharing your art?
It is something related with one of the preview questions about why I make art. I just make it with my whole heart and sincerity so when I show and share it I hope that people can feel it and if the drawings touch them with heart and simplicity, I feel like the happiest artist in the world.
Which contemporary artists and illustrators do you currently like?
I have a devotion for Kiki Smith and Anne Siems, I also admire Fay Ku, Sofia Arnold, my friend Jane O’ Sullivan, I love the work by Jana Brike, Balint Zsako, Aron Wiesenfeld, Fuco Ueda, Valérie Belmokhtar, Susan Jamison…
What is the art scene like in your native France? Are there any French artists, events, galleries, or projects that particularly excite you right now?
A while ago the French art scene was mostly focused on conceptual work, and it was difficult to find interesting figurative art too… In the past couple of years, I see emerging a new movement with artists like Julien Salaud, Anaïs Albar, Valérie Belmokhtar, Bertrand Secret, the musician and visual artist Kinrisu, and the presence of young art galleries like Arsenic Gallery or Da-End Gallery in Paris (and I am happy to have had my first solo show in this beautiful and inspiring place). I love to see how imagination is at the centre of this creative scenery, how intuition and sensitivity within an intriguing sense of animality are respected and celebrated.
What is your favourite thing about making art?
I find it absolutely delightful when I feel the intensity of my desire for an image, for drawing it on the medium, when for example some mornings I am in a hurry for getting up in order to begin soon my work.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melanie Maddison is a zine writer and former postgraduate Women’s Studies student from Leeds, UK. Her main zine, Colouring Outside The Lines has been going since 2004 and interviews contemporary female artists. She’s our resident chief interview lady, and you can read all the interviews she has conducted for Pikaland here!