Fabienne Lasserre

My process can be summed up as a stubborn action on materials, offset by a learned and forced flexibility towards their rebuke of my intentions. This mutual tuning of the subjective and the practical leads me to an acceptance of the uncontrolled, both in process and results. I make works that are in between sculptures and paintings, as representations of an “excluded middle”, the part that is left out when things are divided into categories. I stretch and elongate forms, arriving at shapes and volumes through pressure and touch, a blind effort to get somewhere without a plan. I warp, twist, lean, and stack because these states evoke a rich array of relations of desire, repulsion, aggression, cooperation, affection, mercy and cruelty. Many of my pieces or projects start with an interest in a material that I know very little about. Often these materials are malleable and have a non-hierarchical structure where no part dominates or leads; like paper, for instance.

Although it is traditionally a methodical process, paper-making can leave lots of room for the unknown. We began by stretching wet sheets of brightly colored linen paper pulp over variously sized rings made out of copper tubing discarded from the heating system of my parents’ house in Montreal. My studio collaborator Lisa Switalski and I thought that the copper would oxidize against the wet paper and create interesting stains where the two materials overlapped. That didn’t happen. Instead, as the pieces dried, the shrinking paper warped the copper armature, creating taut, twisted, and colorful shapes, each one completely different, and surprisingly sturdy due to the membrane of randomly interwoven linen fibers that we used.

After a few monochromatic pieces, we started laying strips of flat colors alongside each other, purposefully not cleaning the molds so that the adjoining colors would “contaminate” each other. The finished pieces are planar, yet three-dimensional. They look like doors, mirrors, masks, distorted drums, boomerangs, or giant potato chips. However, the color disturbs any clear reference to these associations, and lives on its own.

One of the most important aspects of this project is that it was done in collaboration, hinging on fortuitous discoveries and welcome accidents, rather than a planned outcome. Lisa’s knowledge made it possible to move ahead, yet keep things open to change. Most steps of the process required two people: lifting, moving and balancing things, pressing down, pivoting, pulling. After a while, she and I developed a perfectly coordinated series of movements, which we performed smoothly and repeatedly (admittedly this choreography became wobbly as we grew tired at the end of the day!). Here we were, having just met, completely focused on doing something the nature of which was still unknown to us, together. And through pauses, conversations and laughter, learning about each other meanwhile.

—Fabienne Lasserre, 2013

Fabienne Lasserre is from Montreal, Canada and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She is on the faculty of the painting department at Maryland Institute College of Art Lasserre holds an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University and is represented by Jeff Bailey Gallery.