*Collage Art | Interview*
Collage art can be traced back as late as the early twentieth century. Stemming from the French word, papiers collés (or découpage), it refers to the process of pasting together paper items onto a surface. Gradually the practice has introduced other materials including three-dimensional pieces and most recently, with the development of photo editing software, digital collage work has created its own place in the world of art.
Through the piecing together of various images and materials a new image is formed which embodies its own unique identity. At times the smallest area of an image can be densely packed with new information and dialogue. The result is a work that can be subtle and dynamic all at once.
Anaelle Cathala is a Paris based artist currently working in collage. Her work explores the built environment both at an architectural and city scale. Anaelle speaks about her work and inspiration via email with Le Mile.
written + interview Michelle Heath
Le Mile: You are a self-taught artist, what inspired your path into the Visual Arts?
Anaelle Cathala: I don't really know what or how ... I love art. I've always wanted to create. I searched through mediums, for the medium that would work for me ... but it was not particularly easy for me to find it. It has been complicated. And I did not allow myself. For me, it was always others who were the artists, not me. I did not go to an art school and I did not feel legitimate enough ... while it is only there, in art, that I feel in the right place. But I stopped trying to intellectualize all that. Just do, dare, work, try. And the tide is reversed. Nothing precise led me to this but everything has led me there.
Le Mile: You began as a Visual Artist working with photography before moving into collage work, is there a reason or story behind that transition into collage work? Why image collage work?
Anaelle: I did analogue photography for many years. I love it and I need to do it all the time and everywhere. However, it is "not enough" for me. I do not feel I am purely a "photographer." Since the beginning I have been working to do something else with these images. Project them, paint them ... I try to use them in many different forms and methods of my work. For the moment, this collage collection is my most accomplished and personal work. Working in collage interests me with its notion of infinite possibility. I am really caught up with the idea of ecreating new realities, new spaces, new dimensions. I sometimes even feel like just putting things in their place, putting my finger lightly on the gift of ubiquity, of being everywhere at once.
"Personally, almost everything seems unreal. And these collages with these unreal and flawed universes become precisely and extremely coherent."
Le mile: Typically collage work is created using found images or objects, why do you choose to use only your own images? Do you find this informs or influences your photography or are the two practices exclusive of each other?
Anaelle: The first collages I made were not just with my photos but with images cut from magazines. However, it wasn’t the right fit for me and I did not find what I wanted. The approach did not suit me. The rendering did not suit me. Then one day, I realized that I had all the necessary material in my hands. You do not always immediately see what is so obvious … All the photos in this first series of collages were made prior to the idea of making ollages with them. So, there was no influence on them when they were taken. And I will continue to do it that way. At least in a conscious way! I prefer to continue taking photos in an instinctive way, as I always did, and then to create my collage artwork afterwards.
Le Mile: Your work has themes of architecture and urbanism: what is it about these realms that interest you?
Anaelle: Because these are areas that fascinate me. I have always been fascinated by architecture and urbanism. I live in an urban environment; therefore, I am necessarily fed by it from my confrontation with it every day. This really raw aspect pleases and touches me. Just as much as nature. And I like to confront them. I see obvious connections between all of this. In the sensations that it can provide.
Le mile: Your collages are both realistic and abstract, what do you wish to communicate or portray with your work?
Anaelle: I do not really think about what I want to communicate. But I think it's just my relationship to life and things. A precise notion of reality that I question a lot. Personally, almost everything seems unreal. And these collages with these unreal and flawed universes become precisely and extremely coherent. That's what I like.
Le Mile: Are your images from anywhere in particular or from various locations?
Anaelle: My images come from everywhere and from a lot of different moments! Absolutely everything is mixed!
Le Mile: Many collage artists past and present have incorporated a three-dimensional, almost sculptural element to their work. Do you foresee yourself taking that path at any point?
Anaelle: Sometimes I think about this type of work but I don't yet know at all when or how ... It's at the research stage for the moment.
Le Mile: You are originally from the south of France but live and work in Paris now. What is it about Paris and its art scene that helped you decide to select that as your home?
Anaelle: I moved to Paris at the age of 21 because I have always loved this city. Because I love big cities. I don't feel right in small towns. I need to be in a big city that is teeming with either nature, space, or emptiness. No half-measures. Ideally, I need it all alternately, for my work and for my mental health! The artistic scene is not directly what made me settle here but it is part of the package.
"I am very attracted by installation, video ... in short, my brain is bubbling with ideas; it will have to work it all out."
Le Mile: Where do you think your work will take you in 2018, both physically and in the production of your work (themes, content, etc.)?
Anaelle: I will, of course, continue to develop and work in depth on my collages because I have really found myself in this activity. Other series are under way. I also have a series of paintings of my own pictures in progress. I am very attracted by installation, video ... in short, my brain is bubbling with ideas; it will have to work it all out. I think we must attempt to remain free to do what we want. And try. All that we want to. I am now represented by the ALB Anouk le Bourdiec Gallery in Paris and that brings about great upcoming events. Physically, I want to move around and travel anywhere and as soon as possible and, if it is for exposure, it would be fabulous!