Why do we travel? « A trip does not require reasons, Nicolas Bouvier wrote in 1963 in L’usage du monde; and he added, It quickly proves it is self-sufficient ». Some logbook writers have undoubtedly felt the irrepressible need, like that of the famous globetrotter, of casting off to break away from a daily routine and to push boredom away. Others seek that tension prior to the departure rather than fear it. The books of our youth can push us to pursue a myth, an explorer or a legendary route. The Adresse Musée de la Poste presents a very wide panorama of contemporary traveling artists – who help us discover the Trans-Siberian railway, the tribes of the Omo valley… or the flea markets in the French region of Picardie.
Never without a notebook
For the artists, drawing directly is an aim in itself and the notebook is no longer a simple collection of preparatory sketches, but rather a complete work in its own right. Wherever he may be, the logbook writer picks up his pencil and takes out his box of watercolors. All artists of travel diaries could claim as theirs the beautiful declaration Guillaume Reynard made: «I travel to draw, I draw to travel». The act of drawing while traveling not only meets a vital need for the artist, but is also a wonderful way of opening hearts and doors. When the sketcher does not speak the native language, the act of drawing appears as the best vocabulary. Once the artist has chosen his target, children group around him without any inhibition whatsoever. Once they have gained his confidence and the surprise is over, adults then dare approach him. The artist settles down. One person poses. Time comes to a stop, for the artist who intends to do figure drawing does not permit any rushing. By taking his time the artist is sure of observing properly, and hence of giving a better restitution.
The unknown just around the corner
Drawing is a remarkable tool to communicate with others. Gone is the staging for tourists, folkloric dances and necessary visits to shops with ethnic products! That is not of essence. The traveling artist wishes to have wonderful encounters and share moments of authentic experiences. That is what drawing allows him to do while traveling. If he wishes for exoticism at all costs he need not travel the oceans near and far. He can experience strong emotions and sensations just around the corner. The wandering holder of a travel log does not miss a thing of ordinary life. He is on the look out for the most insignificant attitude in the street, in the cafés, on the beach. You can see him pacing back and forth in front of garage sales and jazz cabarets, giving a soul to the objects and movement to the musicians.
At the four corners of the earth
Anouchka DESSEILLES Portrait of Elisabeth Sagna Elisabeth was not very at ease in front of the lens. The Casamance region was still unknown to me then... The portrait was painted upon my return from my first trip to Senegal in 2005
Everything is worth being sketched. French landscapes and architecture are born from the artist’s quick or carefully drawn line. In France and abroad, travel log artists favor portraits. From Europe to America, including Africa, the Middle-East and Asia, they take us to meet a Rumanian blacksmith, a belly-dancer in Egypt, an elderly man in the Dogon region of Mali, a dockworker in Mombasa (Kenya), a specialist of the Hamer ethnic group in Ethiopia, the director of an orphanage in Siberia, a tea merchant in Calcutta, a Japanese fisherman, a vegetable gardener on the Mekong, an old painter in Hanoi and then… This is enough to give you an idea of the diversity of the encounters the visitor will have while visiting this exhibition. And that is not all. He will still have a lot to discover in the dreamlike universes of some mischievous artists. The diversity of the subjects meets a wide range of styles that excludes no technique: architecture drawings, collages or phylacteries of comic strips.
Catalogue of the exhibition, Snoeck publishing house, 24 €.
To see more illustrations, click on VERSION FRANCAISE at the top
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