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L'Herault Art

Artist Lucy Raverat

Interview by Sophie Reynolds

I always made art. It was a normal thing to do in my family. I found out when I was quite young that this was a place where I could be at ease. The first paintings I remember were by Rousseau and Picasso. I was about eight. They kind of gave me permission to do what I wanted.

I remember deciding that I was going to follow this impulse to paint and that I would dedicate all the time, materials and space that it needed. Later it became my refuge from the demands of family life and grew from there into a way of being in the world and being a “proper”person with a “career”. The process continues as I go deeper into exploring what pleases me. That this this somehow pleases others as well, tant mieux!

Standing Alone, 2010

I think painting has always been an essential part of my way of understanding about what is going on and what I am doing here. I feel really lucky to have discovered this so young. It’s a way going into the unknown, unarmed and naked, with no idea where to put my foot; I can’t even see the ground. Yet somehow, as I take that step forward, magically the ground appears and in that way I advance. It’s like I have no idea what I’m looking for, but I know when I find it.

Before I begin a painting there is a void I find myself in that is totally scary. It’s the beginning that’s the most difficult. I kind of create accidents to start with and hope for the best until the painting begins to direct itself, then I just follow…

Sometimes a painting practically does itself and sometimes I have to really work at it…doing, undoing and doing again. As long as I’m clear about the vibration it produces I don’t mind. In fact this process has become quite an essential part of the end product as I often destroy a work and start again with more layers, and then destroy again. Its really about remaining true to this invisible something. I use paint stripper, sand paper… and I play with them a lot.

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Night River, 2011

What I like about this process of destruction is that it depersonalizes the work. Just as age is a grey leveler –everyone is equal before age– so all paintings are equal once destroyed, so what comes through from the remainder has a certain distilled quality and purity which is its essence, because all that had been constructed around it has been destroyed. We spend so long constructing ourselves and our characters, until we think, “God! I can’t get rid of this!” But if we go through this destruction process we discover we don’t need all the layers of our constructed selves. This is linked to the art of Zen brush painting, where just one stroke communicates the whole. It takes years to get there, but that is what all the years of work are about— the getting to the place where you personality no longer dictates what you do. Art, for me, is making visible the invisible. I hope that the more I’m able to find that place for myself the more it will enable others to go there for themselves, which is why I want to paint abstract now. maybe it is because with age one is less concerned with outer visible forms as the inner, invisible world becomes more and more beguiling. It’s important for me to keep it as light as I can.

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