Delphine Lucielle


June 17, 2013

Delphine Lucielle at the Venice Art Biennale


Simone Ribora, Artribune, June 17 2013, Venice, Italy


In the Glasstress exhibition, one of the Venice Art Biennale’s regular collateral events, Delphine Lucielle shares the stage with artists such as Joseph Kosuth and Tracey Emin. We meet her to learn more about her work.


What is your work about?


My paintings reveal the geological patterns hidden inside rocks. In a way, my paintings are the writings of stones.


Where do your works come from?


From stones from all over the world. I try to respect as much as I can the colours and patterns I see when I look at stones through a microscope. I only choose the most breathtaking compositions.


Who helps you in your work?


In choosing the stones, I’ve been helped by Willliam Larson, one of the world’s most knowledgeable gem and mineral experts. Larson has helped me locate some of the finest mineral samples. For example, the mica that I’ve used in the exhibit at Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti has mineral inclusions that are truly rare. I was also fortunate to have access to the world’s most comprehensive geological collection at Stanford University in California, together with specialist advice from Professor Gordon Brown.


After you’ve chosen the stones, how do you proceed?


Stones are cut very thin until they become transparent. I then look at them under a microscope and extract their imagery.


You chose to represent these images using only glass. Why?


I asked myself: what are these images made of? Obviously of silica, which is glass. Therefore, if I wanted to respect the stone’s purity I had to use glass to represent it. Moreover, stones are made of minerals, and minerals are made of crystals lined up in a grid. So I thought: I have to reproduce this process as well! And the only way to do it was to hand-weave the glass on a loom to reproduce the grid and imitate the minerals’ luminescence.


What paint do you use for the glass canvas?


I paint with the stones’ minerals. Colors are created by grinding minerals from rocks into fine powder. They are then suspended in a special medium that gases off in the kiln during firing. Using mineral based pigments rather than synthetic based pigments produce colors that have a strong luminosity and intensity.


What do you think are the innovating aspects of your work?


First there’s the recovery of techniques at risk of being forgotten, such as weaving glass on a loom. Second, my sculptural glass paintings are unique in that the image and its medium are truly interwoven both physically and conceptually. The image is embedded in the material, which is in turn the actual image. But above all, it is the subject itself that is innovative. Generally people have seen interiority through the human body. But there is another way to show interiority: the inside of matter, the inside of the universe... after all, that’s where life comes from. My art shows life, but not by looking inside a living body.


Let’s talk a little about you. Where are you from?


I’m originally from France: I lived there until I was sixteen and then I came to America. I am completely self-taught, so I like to experiment with materials, and I’m interested in art and in science. My first solo show was with Saatchi in London last April.

What is art for you?


The search for truth. But it’s also a way to express our love of life. I think Leonardo da Vinci put it best: “the true art is that of nature and the true artist is its mirror".


So how would you define yourself? An artist or a scientist?


I don’t like classifications. I also don’t think my work can be placed within fixed categories. I think that, like any other human being, I can be different things at the same time. So I’m an artist, a scientist, a geologist and a poet. And a researcher, because this is also necessary to create my works.


And what are you looking for?


What I like in this work is its relation with the extended cosmos: it’s the search for a pre-existing aesthetic, dating from before the advent of humanity. We understand the earth through the study of minerals, but we discover that it is also part of our aesthetic sensibility. This is why I think there are certain things that we like for no specific reason. It’s because they are already inside us. And it is precisely by studying minerals, the slow process of the earth’s formation, that we can find some fundamental answers.


How would you place yourself in the contemporary art world? Are there artists or movements to which you feel particularly close?

I can’t think of any artists who paint with glass and stone so it’s difficult to find links. At first glance, my work could be defined as a form of abstraction. But if you think it through, abstract art usually comes from a dialogue created by human. This artwork, however, is a dialogue created by nature itself.

June 1 to November  24 November 2013
Glasstress: White Light/White Heat
Curated by James Putnam and Adriano Berengo
Campo Santo Stefano 2842, Venice