Interrogating the Codes that Define our reality

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Interrogating the Codes that Define our Reality

Claire Trotignon


You visually construct through fragments, what is the meaning behind this ?

Working with fragments is like following a story. I collect old engravings which often come from old worn books. I cut those prints to create my palette of shapes and colors. I like the fact that the fragments bring their own history on the blank paper to create a new one.

Sometimes I draw a first sketch with pencil, I place few pieces of paper until they find their position … and I give it a bit of time fearing to disturb them.

Despite some recognizable elements (the drawing of a hand hanging on a stone is a recurrent hidden motif), fragments extracted from their context loose their original meaning. It expresses how the fragmentation is an idea of measuring, scale, value, an endless « mise en abîme » to ask ourselves if the subject is only defined by its context or if there are other possibilities to combine fragments together in order to create a new immutable version.

There are many variables, but there is never any real beginning or end, each work begins its process prior to me, I’m mixing the elements, some drawings witness the present, the story go on through the imagination of viewers with at least as much possibilities as elements.

It allows us to wonder how and when things can be considered either finite or infinite, and how do we perceive it.

My artistic process oscillates between the part and the whole. It is in a certain mesure an « uncertainty principle » (Heisenberg) that allows me through the use of void to generate some paradoxal spaces. That’s why I am interested in phenomena, theorems, tools, artistic practices that determine, question or annihilate our spatio-temporal landmarks, from pre-Alberti italian architectural representations to Robert Smithson Non-Sites, from Simon Sterling principle of Autoxylopyrocycloboros to the « instrumental error » of a sextant.

How does the white canvas act as a neutral background where you position yourself? To what extent can it be your tabula rasa ?

The concept of framing is directly related to the sampling issue, the fragmentation of the field of vision : choosing, removing…
Moreover, white paper allows me to pass from plan to volume, from map to construction, elevation.

The scale is disturbed and the lack of ground attachement expresses both a feeling of inaccessibility and control at the same time. The central composition acts as a sculptural volume around which we could go or to be grasped into our hands.

The void structures the filled, fragments as much as emptiness are unlimited and it is from this new entity that can arise a potential dynamic, through the choice and freedom of interpretation or extension. The action is played more like a palimpsest that a tabula rasa.

Your work ranges from two dimensional to three dimensional sculptures, how do the two relate ?
In terms of form of production, what you explore and the final output?

Both play in the same way.
Paper compositions are build by samples, extracted from the « matter » and recomposed. Placed on a white surface it acts as a physical object, sometimes as a model, sometimes sculptural. On the other hand volumes are extruded shapes, deployed, sometimes like twisted, where emptiness is present, the volumes appear as spacial drawings. Notions of scale are confused on both ways and the aim is always to play between the possibility of controlling the space and its impossibility to be totally seized.

What is the effect of the frame on the drawing? To what extent can it be seen as finalising and distancing the image from the viewer ?

Besides the technical aspect of conservation and hanging, the framework marks the end of the intervention.

What dictates you choice of palette? From the monochromatic style etching to the blue and white to the colourful, what is the relationship between the subject matter and how it is represented ?

The Landscape(s) & Cold hillside series (silkscreen print) are black and white, they refer to classic engraving. When we are far from the composition, we can notice a kind of cartography, enhanced by the old style etching who spontaneously gives some authenticity to the subject. However, the architectural element disturbs the vision and induces an anachronism, naturally the question of the veracity  of an image arises.
The cobalt blue reminds me the color of a shock-line, a tool used in the building activity. I like the link with those compositions build as architecture, from map to volume.
This color could present as well a negative underwater portions of the map or the traditional color of a pictorial representation of skies. Once combined those concepts generate a loss of temporal and spatial markers.
Recently I worked with Prussian blue to create cyanotype pictures. Compositions are mostly dark giving the sensation of a night view between explosion and constellation, the game of scale and depth is still present as well.
The tracks are deliberately blurred to show that a same reference can have many meanings and leads to a loss of your bearings.
The latest compositions are more colorful, the few colors act like codes, symbolic combinations that generate anachronisms,
a back and forth Memphis/Quattrocento !

01_conform step, canonic void

Conform step, canonic void Drawing, collage of silkscreen print on silk paper


Avalanche au carré Collage of old engravings, atlas and cyanotypes

02_avalanche au carré

Avalanche au carré Collage of old engravings, atlas and cyanotypes

02_Rock A Hoola_1

03_Par alidade excentrée_les gommettes

Par alidade excentrée, les gommettes Drawing, collage of old engravings, cyanotype, atlas

03_Rock A Hoola_204_Explosion_to_the_grid

04_Les contre-reliques

Les contre-reliques Drawing, gouache, collage of old engravings, cyanotype, atlas

05_Mais Pluton reste

Mais Pluton reste, Les permutations series Drawing, collage of old engravings, cyanotype, atlas


06_Tight view

ight view Collage of old engravings and atlas


Upland Drawing, collage of old engravings, cyanotype, atlas



Claire Trotignon builds spaces literally and figuratively, as a children’s shed on a sheet of paper. She develops, for few years, her artistic practice around the notion of space and its « mise en abîme ».

She focuses on architecture, landscape and cartography through a back and forth between past and future in a ratio of plan and volume.

Her installations, drawings, collages and volumes, interrogate the codes that define our reality. Those numerous medias contribute to create a large diversity of spaces playing with the notion of scale. Her work combines art history and contemporary codes in order to disturb and question our perceptions.

Topologies of Claire Trotignon play on relativistic parameters, made of spacing strategies, shifts and inversions. The artist appropriates and hybrides everything that can potentially enter in her deconstructive matrix to generate either paradoxal places (non site) or structural spaces.

Claire Trotignon graduated with a DNSEP in 2008. Her work has been recently presented at Untitled Art Fair Miami, at the Centre Pompidou Metz, and her recent cyanotype compositions «the reprieve of the pleiades» has also been acquired by the Public National Library of New York.


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