Graduates 2020: Charlotte Guerard: Painting

My painting practice engages with the language of Contemporary Abstraction. While reflecting upon its relationship to earlier movements in its history, I want to question the status of an abstract painting today through the legacy of formalism in contemporary art.

My practice plays with the compositional purpose of space through materiality and gesture as I seek to create a narrative between what happens underneath the surface and how new marks reach outside of the frame.

Poster of exhibition

My physical interactions with the paintings resonate via gestures, which vary in size and pace. Actions and reactions are observed, creating a stage for movements to dance, letting the works become archives of my presence in the process of making. A direct response to colour leads to instinctive and emotional actions made in the paintings while my engagement with the materials is experimental, as I emphasise the importance of the unknown. My rapid application of acrylics flows onto the surface and dries almost instantly, while other elements consist of collaged paper, glued and positioned with a press of a hand, providing me with something to push against. Ambiguous compositions invite the viewers to reflect upon their perspective of time and space.


How have you found your course/time at Brighton?

Over the course of my studies my taste for experimentation and openness to ‘failure’ have been an opportunity for improvement. Everyday life in the studio is hugely important to me, and rewarding on a personal, social and professional level. Brighton has given me the chance to pursue a practice which evolved both from my own initiative and also from a strong sense of community. I was challenged constantly and kept engaged thanks to an amazing group of tutors and staff on my course such as Chris Stevens, head of Painting department, James Kearns, technician and daily support for all, Alexander Pollard and others. These three years have enriched my knowledge and have made me grow in confidence. I was also lucky to meet and work among very talented artists such as William Butterwick, Tom Counihan, Ricky Griggs, Melissa Barrett and others who became great friends. 


What are your plans after Graduation?

Beyond my BA course, I aim to continue experimenting in order to take my painting practice further, building on the skills that I have already acquired. In the first place, I aim to find a studio will enable me to gain in confidence as well as establish my independence as an artist. In the future, I want to apply for a Masters in Painting.

How did you find lockdown?

My departure from the University of Brighton, due to the pandemic, presented me with challenges.

During lockdown I have been working from my parents’ home in a village of Normandy in France. I have re-invested the garden shed and created a studio space in which to work. Until June 5th, I was working towards my final assessments and virtual degree show. This took a lot of adjusting to, as I had to learn how to present my work in a non-physical space. *Please find attached the poster for my upcoming degree show which includes a link to the website.

Screenshot of instagram post made during lockdown

The paintings are changing too, I have been working on smaller surfaces and on board rather than canvas. Although this is in some respects a constraint, it has enabled me to appreciate the complexities of a composition in its details.

I have been documenting the process in writing as well as photographing my work which I then post on Instagram.  Social media has become important in this period, I realised that in order for my work to be visible, I had to explore the potential for digital representations.  I was amazed by the positive impact among art communities thanks to organisations such as the #ArtistSupportPledge by @matthewsburrows, also @sadgrads2020 which feature works from this year’s graduates. Even Brighton students, @holly_delooze and @owenwilliansart have created a platform called @in_thesameboat aiming to maintain a sense of community between creative people in the face of isolation where daily reports from artists are livestreamed to share their experiences.

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Find out more about BA(Hons) Fine Art Painting

See Charlotte’s work in the Graduate Show 2020

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