Artist Spotlight: Anne Cecile Surga – interview published on the 4th August 2017 by EuropeNow Journal.
“EuropeNow: Can you tell us a little about yourself and about the kind of art you create?
Anne Cecile Surga: I was born in France in 1987 and graduated with a Master in Business Administration in 2010. In 2013, I graduated from the Christie’s Education Master Program in New York City. I always wanted to be part of the art world from as far as I can remember. Creation has consistently been a part of me: in my childhood I was crafting rag dolls or playing with salt dough, and in my teens I began to create with papier maché and clay. As the artist lifestyle was deemed a little bit too obscure, I went to a business school, which then allowed me to work in the art world from the managerial side.
Even though it was going well, I decided to become a full-time artist three years ago. I now live and work in the south of France, and my materials are marble and mixed media. Without a formal education in visual art, I’ve been able to discover and establish the rules myself. My art practice is the result of introspection on a universal level. I try to understand my feelings and thoughts through the prism of contemporary society, and then try to translate them into a sculpture that can connect with others.
EuropeNow: What about your primary medium do you like best?
Anne Cecile Surga: My primary medium is marble. My favorite is Statuario white marble from Carrara in Italy. I also work with French marble that I can easily find in the Pyrenean Mountains, where I live, and with pink Portuguese marble. I think marble is quite an unusual material for contemporary art as I feel it will always be linked to classical sculpture, but to me it is the most satisfying material I can work with. Carrara marble especially allows you to create an infinity of details with a clarity that cannot be equaled. There is also an intrinsic beauty to the material, in my opinion everything looks better in marble! It gives an ethereal feeling while being of unbelievable strength.
On the other hand, marble is not easy to work with. One must be armed with patience to remove the stone in order to reveal the form from the block. It is physically and intellectually challenging–physically, as one requires the strength to work the material, and intellectually as it is a reverse process: you take material out of the sculpture and you are not allowed to make a mistake. This emotional, intellectual, and physical challenge makes marble sculpture the most complete art form to me.
EuropeNow: Can you tell us about the piece you donated for this auction?
Anne Cecile Surga: The work is a bas-relief made of French black marble and Portuguese pink marble. I have been discovering the possibilities of marble and developing my artistic approach on my own in the last years. There is a predominance of anatomy in my earlier works, and I have recently explored abstraction through an organic approach. This piece could be understood as a snapshot of my recent artistic evolutions.
A recurring aspect of my work is to insert other marbles or materials on my marble pieces. I made bas-reliefs using black and white marbles, and sculptures where I mixed steel, wood, gold leaf, ribbon, or even piercing with marble. Formal beauty is important in my approach: the line, the balance, and also the finesse of execution are essential elements of my work.
EuropeNow: Who has shaped your development as an artist?
Anne Cecile Surga: One of most the influential people in my artistic development has been Pablo Atchugarry. Not only has he been the one to introduce me to marble cutting –from how to handle the tools to how to choose a marble bloc, or how to move these heavy stones–but he also accepted me in his artistic circle, thus allowing me to learn a lot from this world-renown artist on a daily basis. Being born in a non-artistic family, it has been eyes- and heart-opening to realize all that can be made thanks to art.
Having him as a role model teaches me so many values and life lessons. Marble does require an incredible amount of working hours and that can lead to much frustration and sometimes the will to quit, but being mentored by a passionate and hard-working individual made all the difference for me. I learned you can never work too much or be too good at your practice, but most importantly that art and all its benefices have to be shared with as many as possible. I do wish I will one day have the opportunity to make such a positive impact in a young artist’s life.
EuropeNow: Do you have a favorite non-art activity that connects you to your art in a meaningful way?
Anne Cecile Surga: My only hobby is the only thing in my life that is absolutely not related to art. I am an amateur boxer and I have been practicing fighting sport for 6 years. It might seem strange, but there are a lot of parallels between boxing and cutting marble. The first is obviously the need or development of strength. The first time I cut marble, I would have not been able to handle the tools if I had not had all that fighting training beforehand, I am sure of it. From a mental point of view, there is also a lot of dexterity at play, along with resilience, concentration, and the ability to keep your head cool when things are not going the way you intended.
Both in boxing and in marble cutting, one needs to master a technique in order to free oneself, and to be able to express his true self through it. The only thing that really differs is that I would compare artist life to a marathon more than to an explosive boxing competition. Last but not least, for both practices, you can only get better with time!”
Jessie Pitt, one of the 70 selected artists for Artrooms London 2018, has seen an insightful interview on her art and inspirations published on the fifth issue of CreativPaper, a digital magazine dedicated to the arts whilst highlighting social & environmental issues. Released in August this year, the interview explores how the Australian artist is influenced by the environment she grew up in – the montainous region of Melbourne – and the one she also shares her time with – the mountains in Austria.
“There is a majestic, eternal kind of strengh about mountains. They are strong yet exude an indescribable sense of stillness and of peace” – Jessie Pitt
You can read the full interview here, pages 72-81.
More than 350 works by Guatemalan, Latin American and European artists come together this week in Zona Pradera, Guatemala, thanks to the inauguration of the 14th edition of the exhibition Del Arte al niño (translated: From Art to the Kid), an event that seeks to serve as a support for the treatment of children with brain injuries. For its part, this year the show has a tribute to the Art Master Rodolfo Abularach, who will be represented in the activity by means of several pieces. The artist is one of the most renowned international Guatemalan artists and has been characterized by circular forms, eyes and the line as the main bases of his work.
Artrooms London 2018 Selected Artist Diana Fernández participates in the exhibition opening the room with FRACTAL LIGHT , transluscent white alabaster and FLOWER, orange alabaster.
The exhibition takes place at 18 st 24-69 zone 10, Building Empresarial zona pradera, Lobbys 1, 2 and 3 (Guatemala) from the 7th September to the 24th November 2017.
Artrooms London 2018 Selected Artist Jordi Robert will be exhibiting at the 21st National Open Art Exhibition, which will take place at Bargehouse Oxo Tower Wharf Southbank London from the 17th – 26th November 2017
A vast, untouched four-storey industrial building will host the 21st National Open Art Exhibition. Bargehouse is an exciting atmospheric space on London’s fast moving South Bank and Bankside areas and sister building to the iconic landmark, Oxo Tower which stands proud on the cultural path between the National Theatre and Tate Modern. This big blank canvas will be transformed into a contemporary gallery space to showcase a cross-section of the very best British and Irish contemporary art of 2017.
The 2017 Judges include Royal Academician Hughie O’Donoghue RA, artist Jane McAdam Freud, former NOA winner Kelvin Okafor, gallery director Cynthia Corbett, photographer Zelda Cheatle and filmmakers Elaine Pyke and Adam Saward. All artwork is judged strictly anonymously on talent and results in an exhibition of 100% of the open entries – not one ‘invited’ artist. By entering their work, artists have the chance of winning part of a £60,000 prize fund and being showcased in prestigious exhibitions in London and beyond.
“(…) The art fair is a subject of great interest to me. Having worked for a gallery at numerous fairs both in the U.K. and abroad for many years, I have a good understanding of a dealer’s approach. Over the last decade or so the importance, scale, number and profile of art fairs has increased considerably. Of course the vast majority cater for galleries as exhibitors, rather than independent artists, and as such they are essentially high end trade fairs. Running a gallery is a costly pursuit. Above all an art fair represents an opportunity, often the best opportunity, for a dealer to make sales and in the majority of cases more people will visit one’s art fair stand in a week than would ordinarily pass through a permanent premises over the course of a couple of months (assuming one even has such a space). What’s more, many visitors to a fair will be very much open to the idea of making a purchase. The chance to make a relatively high number of sales in a short space of time cannot be ignored by the gallerist, and this is entirely understandable, particularly considering that most art fairs are eye wateringly expensive to participate in (stand fees alone can often reach tens of thousands of pounds, plus there’s shipping, staffing and so on). Thus, any gallery wishing to make good business decisions will approach an art fair with sales front and centre.
As an artist, one must look at this with pragmatism. Generally speaking the art fair does not offer the greatest curatorial value around. By its nature it cannot present a broad and even survey of artists working today and in terms of artists exhibited it cannot be an inclusive, meritocratic event. What it can be is a good gauge of the art that is selling at any one time. We know galleries will hang their stands to sell, and this is understood. For the vast majority of artists, ever seeing their work appear at an art fair is highly unlikely. First they would need to achieve gallery representation, and then they would need to be seen as one of that gallery’s prime commercial options. Of course only a tiny percentage of artists manage this, even with the significant growth of the art fair in recent years. I certainly have no expectation that my work might make its way into an an art fair via this, the established route. Furthermore, if it did, knowing what I do about the way galleries use fairs, I would consider it of little value beyond the commercial. For most artists I would suggest that the art fair represents very well all that is exclusive, inaccessible and unattainable about the fiercely commerce driven art world.
However there are now a small number of fairly young fairs that focus on independent artists as exhibitors, rather than galleries. This is of course a wonderful development for artists, even if the general structure is basically the same as those events that cater for galleries. Costs are still relatively high, so sales remain the main aim. This is where ArtRooms differs. ArtRooms offer exhibition space to selected artists for no fee, and for me this changes the game entirely. Such a gesture of support removes the necessity for exhibitors to consider the commercial side of their work at all if they so choose. Artists have the liberty to work with creative freedom and present something at an art fair that goes entirely against the rigidly prescribed commercial angle. ArtRooms have adopted what I understand to be an unprecedented approach to supporting artists – taking the most overtly commercial structure the artworld has thus far devised and turning it on its head for the significant benefit of the artists. They offer a very real route to exhibiting at an art fair without the traditionally associated financial risk and, by extension, the restriction on what can reasonably be exhibited. ArtRooms is a unique opportunity for artists to approach their work free of commercial burden, but still achieve the significant exposure that is unique to the art fair model. It is true that they charge a commission on sales, but even this is significantly lower than a traditional gallery fee and is of course only payable if the artist themselves makes a sale. Overall it’s a deal that, on a one to one basis, makes it practically impossible for the exhibitor to come out worse off than the fair. That’s pretty much unheard of in my book.
The potential outcome is significant. Aside from the obvious benefit to the exhibiting artists, the fair as a whole could well become one of the best examples of its type in terms of pure creativity. Artists have the opportunity to present work raw and uncensored. Work which has not been presented through the filter of gallery acceptability or given the commercial gloss that makes it a ‘marketable asset’. One can go to any number of art fairs and wind up seeing the same work, presented the same way, hung on the same temporary contract matt white partition walls. Their homogeneous nature is such that a fair in Hong Kong could just as well be a fair in New York or a fair in Basel in terms of content. However ArtRooms has the makings of something altogether different. It is accessible, fosters true creativity at source, and offers its visitors insights into the way an artist works like no other event of its kind.
So, these are my own thoughts on he subject, and why I believe that among the many, many fairs out there, ArtRooms deserves particular attention (…).
Source: Youngspace x Artrooms, by Tom Wilmott. You can read the full post here: tomwilmott.co.uk
Image on Top: Detail of Tom Wilmott’s painting At least things can’t get any worse. 1.2 I. 2014. Acrylic & emulsion on canvas. 18.0cm diameter.
Artrooms 2018 applicant Pablo Vindel is one of the Project Based Creative Glass Center of America’s Fellows this Fall at WheatonArts.
The CGCA at WheatonArts offers fellowships to artists working in glass and has serviced glass artists and the arts community for over thirty years. Over 300 professional and emerging artists have been recipients of a CGCA fellowship, from the U.S. and over 26 foreign countries. Artists are encouraged to use their fellowships to develop and refine their work, while experimenting with both traditional and innovative glassmaking processes.
The CGCA Fellowship Program provides 24-hour studio facilities, technical resources, housing and a stipend; allowing artists the opportunity to spend a concentrated period of time devoted exclusively to their work. Many emerging artists have used the Fellowships as a stepping-stone to a successful career. For mid-career artists, it offers an opportunity to redefine direction and renew creative energy. The collaboration and exchange of ideas among the Fellows enhances a productive climate, supporting the discovery of new vision and resources for each.
Other CGCA programs include GlassWeekend (a biennial symposium and exhibition of contemporary glass); slide lectures; and special educational outreach programs. A “Critic-in-Residence Program,” provides additional support for the artists, generating meaningful inquiry and discussion about their work. All activities elevate the educational interpretation of contemporary glass to a broad audience.
“Outstanding artists like Josiah McElheny or Beth Lipman started out here. I couldn’t be more grateful and excited. Looking forward to the Fall in Millville!” – Pablo Vindel
“It has become second nature to enter into competitions and open exhibitions. We choose are images and send them off into the ether over the internet and with them our hopes and fears. It is then that we start building our defences against the email that tells us that we have not been selected but thank you and better luck next time. So imagine my happiness at having got two of my paintings pre selected to the shortlist for the National Open Competition. The paintings were then labelled and wrapped and shipped off to Chichester and the waiting began again. This time we tell ourselves that it is brilliant just to have been shortlisted and try to curb our excitement. Then the day arrives for the results . I have to read, reread and check again. This time the email says CONGRATULATIONS the following paintings by Henrietta Stuart, Inland from Achiltibuie & Coastal walk, have been selected to be shown in the 21st National Open Exhibition at the Bargehouse London. I am bubbling with excitement and cannot wait to see my paintings hung with the others in the exhibition”
21st National Open Art Exhibition will run from 17 – 26 Nov 2017 at Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH
30 September 2017 – 4 February 2018
ASYMPTOMATIC PICTOPLASMA: FLASHBACKS INTO CONTEMPORARY ART is the last exhibition in the 2017 season.
Although it stakes no claim to being exhaustive, considering the enormous historical heritage of the realms of painting, this exhibition sets out to refocus attention on this medium of expression, all too often still subjected to derision, at an epoch-making moment when experimentation and the experimental are no longer experiencing a sufficiently fertile terrain for developing new ideas and artistic proposals.
As time goes by, painting remains an authentic medium that has almost never been able to elude an objective critique of its nature and within the bounds of the quality parameters of the artistic product.
While on the one hand the purpose of the exhibitions organised recently has been to highlight the latest new trends in contemporary painting, HEALTHY CARRIERS OF PICTOPLASM adopts a basic approach to tackle the issue of painting from a more general, less specific vantage point.
This, then is about ‘painting’, not as a locus of the mind and cradle of avant-garde potentialities, but as free artistic geography.
The artists considered, chosen by the curator for the express purpose of avoiding slipping into the trap of affectedness and linguistic militancy for its own sake, share the particular characteristic of fertilising creative ideas that fall outside stereotypes of idiom, fashions or the dominant style of the moment in a given market. This characteristic makes them stronger and independent, nor are they short of the occasional historical landmark.
The MACT/CACT has been holding thematic exhibitions for some time, with the aim of furnishing food for thought about the crisis currently afflicting global culture and about the cult of ignorance that has been taking hold in recent years, witness the fall-off in the markets for the arts, antiques and museology. There are no answers in sight for now, other than the rearrangement of social and sociological structures.
Mario Casanova, Bellinzona 2017
Translation by Pete Kercher
MACT/CACT Arte Contemporanea Ticino enjoys the financial and cultural support of the Republic and Canton of Ticino/Swisslos, the Alfred Richterich Foundation Kastanienbaum, the City of Bellinzona, the Berla Collection, Friends and Supporters of MACT/CACT and of Collectors and Artists.