Dates: 2015 – 2018
“Without a trace of the brush”
Between 2014 and 2018, Annabelle d’Huart returned to the idea of seriality present throughout her work and completed Shitao, a series of seven large-scale paintings (190 x 290 cm). Shitao is inspired by the writings of the Chinese philosopher and painter Shitao who wrote about the importance of the single stroke.
Each fine linen canvas was coated with multiple layers of Meudon white paint, which produced a surface similar to stucco but also to that of Sèvres biscuit porcelain. On this surface, Annabelle d’Huart painted a single curved line that unfolds from one end of the canvas to the other without interruption. Moving in the way a river might, the multicoloured stream meanders effortlessly around the canvas, disregarding a focus of attention. The line itself was made with a combination of pigments and pencil wax to create intense colours that somehow retain a transparent quality. By moving from light to dark with successive tones, the colours are stretched to their extreme and flow effortlessly into one another, giving the impression that she genuinely painted it in a single stroke.
As Annabelle d’Huart gradually incorporated colour onto the canvas, she also created a smooth and polished two-tone setting that evokes ancient Egyptian bas-reliefs. In the almost imperceptible differences in the warm and cold nuances in the background, she produced depth. The result is that the line appears free as if it is floating and moving in midair. The work is simultaneously so fluid and so airy that it could be described as liquid light.
Thus in Shitao, Annabelle d’Huart draws from two influences: the peaceful emptiness of oriental compositions and the radiance, transparency, and lightness of Mediterranean colours. Specifically, she borrowed the palette of Renaissance frescoes, especially those of Fra Angelico in the convent of San Marco in Florence and the paintings of Piero della Francesca, Giotto, but used by modern artists such as Agnes Martin and James Turrell.
Four of these paintings were exhibited in the group show L’Éxpérience de la couleur (The Experience of Colour) at the Ceramics Museum in Sèvres in autumn 2017.
“I swim in colour like a fish in water”