This week Sirens Editor Charlotte Latham was in discussion with Belgian collage artist Katrien de Blauwer.
Katrien de Blauwer’s small, intimate collage works are reminiscent of film stills plucked from their intended setting and re-appropriated into the world of the artist. Quiet and intriguing, the work is rich in suggested narrative as spliced figures from old magazines and papers slip between blank panels.
Initially a process that developed by making studies and mood books for fashion collections, de Blauwer soon became drawn to the therapeutic self-investigation involved in collage. Describing herself as a ‘photographer without a camera,’ she creates snippets of action in the form of the appropriated imagery; however, much of the potency of her work is in the absence of content – the implications of what is not seen in the frame, blocked from view by panels of blank space.
“I like the process because it is very direct, physical and straightforward… there is only the glue, the scissors, the imagery and myself”
Anonymous and yet highly personal, it is as though Katrien’s own history is cut into the imagery. Describing herself as feeling connected to female artists like Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin and Marina Abramovic, “women whose work also addresses autobiographical traumatic experiences from their pasts,” one gets the impression that the process of creating her collage is deeply cathartic and introspective.
“My work has matured through the years with me, and everything I am trying to tell (or my work is trying to tell me) is becoming clearer, stripped and reduced to the essence.”
Abstracted and metamorphosed, surrealist bodies emerge before our eyes - glimpsed between blocks of colour and blank spaces. The compositions are highly charged, inviting the viewer to 'fill in the blanks' and enter into the dreamlike sequences. As such the viewing experience is much heightened, and like de Blauwer herself, we find ourselves ignited by the strange internal narratives conjured by the collages.