Brutal. went to meet the ceramist Amandine Le Drappier in her Parisian studio. Let's discover his universe through an interview.
What is your background and your training to get to ceramics?
I first studied art history and visual arts in high school and university before working in the production of music videos and commercials. I spent several years as a producer bringing to life the ideas and creations of the directors I loved working with. After a few years the desire and even the need to manufacture and to be in contact with matter has become omnipresent. I pulled out my sketchbooks and started sketching all these ideas of shapes and objects that were going through my head. And then, one fine day, I decided to take the plunge, to leave this very comfortable job which paid well but which no longer made me happy. I first wanted to create abstract wall structures and earth turned out to be the ideal material.
Are you self-taught or did you learn from someone else?
I threw myself into ceramics like one jumps from the top of a cliff. By telling myself that no experience was useless and that all these drawings needed to take shape and life. I started by reading some didactic books on the subject and watching documentaries and videos of potters. I looked at the gestures that I tried to reproduce in a shared workshop of ceramists that I had joined. Everything came very naturally, working the land was like a revelation. My hands were finally in their element and the gestures became sure and precise very quickly. Of course, I had painted, drawn and sculpted during my career, which was decisive in my development. I also had the chance in this workshop to meet other ceramists who shared their knowledge with me, which allowed me to be quite quickly confident in my creations.
Do you remember your first play?
My very first piece was a bowl, very thin and very flared in black chamotte stoneware, made entirely with a pinch. I gave it to one of my friends some time later.
How would you define your job?
I have a fairly experimental approach to ceramics, what I like above all is to try new things, to challenge myself technically and aesthetically. I'm quite an impatient person and even if ceramics taught me patience, I can't deny that I tend to get bored quickly. So I'm always looking for new forms of new associations. I like to mix clays that don't fire at the same temperature, to overfire glazes, to superimpose… I also work a lot on the theme of accumulation in my wall structures. There is something hypnotic about heaping up and accumulating. If I had to summarize I would say a mixture of brutality and finesse.
What is your creative and manufacturing process?
I draw a lot of inspiration from nature. It is full of stunning aesthetic and technical prowess. When an idea is strong enough not to be chased away by a new one, I draw it from all angles, then I paint it in watercolor. This helps me to apprehend the object in volume and in color in its entirety. If once this sketch work is finished I still like the idea then I move on to making the prototype in the ground. Then once the prototype is finished I decline it with different clays and enamels to explore its material and final appearance as much as possible. By working the earth in this way guides me enormously, I let it at each stage have its influence on what will be the finished object.
What is your favorite technique? Your favorite moment in the process?
I greatly appreciate the work on the plate, like an architect who first makes his plans and then builds them in 3 dimensions. I like to cut, assemble, join together to build and raise. I really like paper collage and I try to transcribe this technique through the earth. Assemble different lands, unite them to create a stronger, unique and singular object. My favorite moment is certainly the end of the modeling when the idea has become a real object. It has not yet reached its final aspect but it no longer belongs only to my mind but it exists in our reality. It occupies the space and you can discover it as a whole, touch it, look at it, lift it… It's a rather intense feeling to give life to an idea.
What is your favorite material? What do you like about him?
To tell the truth, I like stoneware as much as porcelain and for completely opposite reasons. Sandstone is a robust earth with multiple colors and aspects (black, red, red, gray white, beige... grog, smooth, very grog). It is a raw land that I like to work like this. I like that my stoneware pieces always have a completely bare unglazed part. It's important for me to be able to see and touch the earth of the object, to understand and grasp its nature. As for the porcelain, I always work it white, always in biscuit, that is to say never enamelled. As pure as possible. It is such a soft and supple texture that makes it possible to create objects of extreme finesse. I only work with one porcelain made in England. Porcelain has a very strong memory and remembers every gesture and blow that can be given to it. They will come out when cooked even if you tried to hide them. Porcelain is for me the most living earth of all. I like this strength contained in this apparent fragility.
What inspires you outside of ceramics?
I am very drawn to glass. I use it in my lamps in association with the earth and I work with a stained glass artist for the cutting. This material inspires me enormously by its possibilities and the incredible diversity of its colors, its decorations and prints (striated, hammered….). and I find that added to the earth it creates extremely soothing objects by their naturalness. Glass, porcelain and stoneware is a mix that I love. I really want to melt some in my oven too. This is part of my research work this year.
Can you tell us about one or more books on ceramics or something else?
I am an absolute fan of Isamu Noguchi and his book “A Sculptor's World” is one of my references. I have read it several times and flip through it constantly. His universe and his work fascinate me. The roundness and softness of his works give me an irresistible desire to touch them. Just as much as Jean Arp, who has always been one of the greatest artists for me. He never stopped looking for new forms. He remained timeless and always visionary. To discover his work, his book “Arp” is a pure and simple treasure of creativity.
What are your last significant trips or your travel desires?
My last significant trip was to Costa Rica. It is a country where the protection of nature has been at the heart of the country's policy for years. Its fauna and flora are highly protected, which allows it to have sublime unspoilt landscapes where animals and humans coexist. There is a kind of benevolent and nonchalant wave there, the “pura vida” as they call it. At sunset everyone naturally finds themselves on the beach to admire the flamboyant colors of the sky and make big fires after dark. It was a magical journey between volcanoes, rain forests and heavenly beaches .