Monday 22 September 2014

«Fragments d’histoires», Espace Kairos, Fribourg

Cécile Matthey, exhibition « Fragments d’histoires » at the gallery Espace Kairos, Fribourg (Switzerland), 20 September–18 October 2014.

Q: Your work is of course well-known to readers of TFF. Could you tell us a bit about how you put your exhibition together, what the themes and focus are?

Cécile: My first idea was to show illustrations of fairy tales and legends. But along the way, I felt I wanted to work on other subjects too, from mythology, fables or novels. Besides, I thought this exhibition was a good opportunity to show some of the works I produced in the last few years, including TFF illustrations, and posters advertising theatre plays. The initial theme was thus broadened to illustrations in general, and the exhibition called « Fragments d’histoires » (« Fragments of stories »), because it shows images that open like windows in the big world of stories: Little Red Riding Hood, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, the Raven and the Fox, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, Icarus, Richard III, …

Q: Espace Kairos is an independent gallery featuring the work of local talent. Tell us more about this gallery: how does it work? Which other local artists will be featured in coming months?

Cécile: Espace Kairos is a small gallery located in an old house close to the cathedral of Fribourg (Switzerland). It is run as a non-profit activity by Vincent, a man who wishes to promote local artists in a simple and convivial way. The exhibitions, usually lasting one month, are very varied: paintings, drawings, sculptures, puppets and so on, and can include cultural happenings such as concerts or readings. The gallery has been successful for a few years now. But Vincent has new plans for the future and unfortunately, Espace Kairos will close in December. After “Fragments d’histoires”, two more artists will show their works: André Stauffer, who makes drawings in “ligne claire” style, and the painter Pierrick Matthey (perhaps a distant cousin of mine?).

Now show us some of the art!

Little Red Riding Hood
This interpretation of the well-known fairy tale is inspired by an old-fashioned advertisement, originally showing an elegant pair leaning on either side of a street lamp. The technique used, involving Indian ink and gouache, makes it look like an etching. It requires a little courage, because the drawing must be completely soaked in water, and the result is not entirely predictable.

Treasure Island
Illustrating this classic novel is a long-range project of mine, and this exhibition was a good opportunity to get started on it. I tried to compose the illustration like an old-fashioned book cover. It shows Jim and Long John Silver on the Hispaniola, seen from the back, arriving in sight of the island. The parrot turns to the spectator screeching, as if knowing what will happen next…

Richard III

This piece was made as a poster advertising the theatre play by Shakespeare. It was all about showing the archetype of the villain in a simple but scary way. A shadow is a good way to achieve this, as I remembered from the old film “Nosferatu” by Murnau. To create the silhouette, I posed in the sun wearing a long thick winter coat, and added a menacing spiked crown inspired by John Howe’s version of Sauron and… the top of the cathedral of Fribourg!

Shadow Boy (for “Shadow Boy and the Little Match Girl” by C. Allegra Hawksmoor, 2013)
To give a sense of the melancholy and solitude of the protagonist, I drew him seen from the back, walking among the graves at dusk. The long white hair brings some strangeness and ambiguity to the character, and adds contrast. The cemetery is inspired by old English and American cemeteries, which always impress me with their gravestones all askew—you wouldn’t see that in Switzerland.

Josh and Paris (for “The Man Who Watched the Stars” by Carol Holland March, 2014)

This illustration is inspired by the souvenir photos made by the NASA before each mission, showing the astronauts posing in their suits, smiling. It seemed a simple and elegant way to evoke the first flight out of the solar system, on which the story is based, and the main protagonists. Josh is inspired by Claude Nicollier, a Swiss astronaut. As for Paris, I found it hard to draw an attractive alien with huge eyes, avoiding the Roswell cliché. In the end I used a tarsier's face as a reference, because it is strange but cute!

More information about the gallery:

More information about the exhibition “Fragments d’histoires”:

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