Louise Despont Draws Deep | ART21 “New York Close Up”

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[Sounds of birds chirping] [New York Close Up] [Fort Greene, Brooklyn] I find that being able to work at home… that I wake up in the morning, I have breakfast, I start working. And it’s a very smooth transition directly into the work that comes from a quieter, more centered place. [Louise Despont, Artist] [Nicole Wong, Assistant] I think we’ll do white dots on these ones, up until you reach this small… stop before you reach this smallest one. So stop on this one. What I like about making work this way is that I don’t need to wait for an opportunity
to be given to me. I don’t have to apply for money to do this
idea when I can do what I need to do and what I want to do simply on paper. I like that–that there’s no excuse not
to do the work, because it’s so contained. To be focused and dedicated to doing one simple
thing can perhaps be the most transformative thing. That as narrow as it is, it can be infinitely deep. [“Louise Despont Draws Deep”] We always associate drawing as being more
personal– as being more intimate than painting. Because, historically, drawings weren’t
shown, and then when they were, they were shown as,
sort of, the private notebooks of so-and-so, or the sketches from these very famous paintings. I was doing more oil painting before– ten years ago– and then, suddenly you see it, and you think it’s all wrong and you need to take a completely different
path. And that’s when I started working in notebooks and doing a lot of collage– where there was just, you know, collecting
images and taping them into the book. To fill up a book felt nice, you know? It didn’t even have to be with anything
good. It was just nice to complete a book. I think it’s also the nature of working
in a book. It’s that the work is private, that you’re not making work for people to
see. Because if you’re always imagining that
somebody will look at it, then maybe you don’t let yourself make the
mistakes that need to be made on the way. These ledger books, they’re mostly all for
accounting– keeping track of your expenses, of debts and accounts owed. I think it’s a different way of accounting
for time and for a life spent. It becomes the account of every day, that I put into the drawing. When I started using the stencils, it completely changed how I drew. This is the first stencil I ever bought, which is now all broken. I’m really sad about it. I think the triangles are the ones I use most. Laying out the paper and seeing the dimensions can sometimes be the beginning of a drawing. You only have to make the first few marks and the whole drawing will unravel itself in response to that, even if you change completely what you thought
you were starting at. Those few marks contain the seed of the entire
drawing. It’s almost like the drawing guides itself, and you’re there to do the weeding and the watering and the planting. But it will grow on it’s own, to a certain extent. It’s nice to look at something and feel some sort of awe for it, that you don’t fully own it but that you worked for it. Even if it looks very controlled and detailed, I feel like I own maybe one quarter of it at most. [LAUGHS] Each drawing is a discovery– tiny discoveries– but each one unfolds in a way that removes the drawing from total control. You’re responsible for your part, and something else is responsible for the
other part, which makes it very exciting. It’s a complexity that you can’t think
up. It’s like little mineral deposits build
up and make an entire surface. I think it’s expressive on an energetic level, at least that’s what I hope. I think the work accesses something to me that feels very universal. There’s something so personal and raw and
unconcrete about your relationship to the spiritual, and my words will always be this clumsy approximation of something that I feel I’m beginning to
touch in a symbolic language. I feel it’s best explained in the drawings. [White Mule, Chelsea] [DESPONT] And that’s the Japanese rice mulberry
paper? [ANNE GIBBS] Mmm hmm. The paste that we use is a rice paste, so it’s water soluble. It can easily be taken off with just a little… [Anne Gibbs, Framer] you know, humidifying it a little. [DESPONT] And then, when I have to make the final step from taking
the drawing to the framer, I take a last look at it because I know it’s the last time to make
changes. And when I look at the drawing I can see areas that aren’t fully connected or fully resolved. And those are all openings to add something. And then when it’s done, it’s like, “Don’t touch me!” Like, there’s no entry point anymore. And that’s… that always feels very clear.


  1. "To be focused and dedicated to doing one simple thing can perhaps be the most transformative thing. That as narrow as it is, it can be infinitely deep." —Louise Despont

    New in the ART21 "New York Close Up" series: Watch artist Louise Despont create intricate pencil-on-paper drawings using architectural stencils in her home and studio in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

    #art   #art21   #LouiseDespont   #drawing  

  2. When you can't figure out what to draw, she said it right that a few random lines and they'll guide you through the rest of the journey, and soon its a story that starts to emerge which you finally complete, with patience.

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