Christine Ott - Eclats - Behind the Artwork

Uncovered - Behind the Artwork of Christine Ott's Éclats (Piano Works) Album

Behind the artwork of Christine Ott's Éclats (Piano Works) album. We talked with Christine and artist Léa Barbazanges about how this beautiful artwork came to life.

Christine Ott and Lea Barbazanges. Photo by Yasuaki Kitagawa & Mick Shenton

- Christine... could you tell us the story of how you discovered Léa's work and how you approached her about using her artwork for your new record Éclats

It's a story of encounters. Together with Mathieu Gabry (Snowdrops), we have our studio / rehearsal space for several years now in Strasbourg, in an art building where numerous artists, most of them painters, draughtsmen or photographers, are grouped together. We're lucky enough to be opposite the premises of HH Services, a very friendly team of 'Maîtres d'art' coachbuilders and classic car restorers. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by old cars, racing cars and classic cars (DS décapotable, Jaguar E-Types... ) My father was an engineer at Bugatti for a time... Being a bit reserved and a bit 'wild', it took me a while to approach this great team and the first person I spoke to was Isaak Rensing, Léa Barbazanges' partner. We talked about edible wild flowers and Isaak knew a lot about them and had planted many around their workshop.

Later, when I went into their studio to talk to him, I discovered a piece of art that Léa and Isaak had just created together, combining their talent and know-how. This piece was later to be entered in a competition. I was speechless, fascinated by the beauty of the piece. So I asked lots of questions about Léa and Isaak showed me some of the other work she'd done in photos. I fell in love with her world, the delicacy of the works and also the textures, particularly the evocation of plants that is very present in her work. Then I discovered his opticals, which I found magnificent, and it was also a great coincidence that there were 12 of them, just like the 12 piano pieces on my album. I waited quite a while before daring to propose a collaboration and I was more than delighted when she accepted.

- Léa... what was your reaction when Christine contacted you about using your artwork ?

When Christine asked me to use Optiques for her next piano album, I felt a great joy that manifested itself in a great silence. I listened to her speak without saying a word, savouring the enthusiasm that spread through my chest. She explained to me that it would be piano and not ondes martenot, that I could decide once I had listened to the pieces. What she didn't know was that I have a deep and intimate love of the piano. What I didn't know was that I would love 'Pluie d'arbres' as much as a Beethoven concerto.

- Christine... once Léa had agreed to her artwork being used on Éclats, what were the next stages like? There are several artworks used, how did you decide which pieces to use and how to arrange the layout?

When it came to choosing the cover, I quickly settled on this particular 'Optique'. But then, for the layout of the rest of the album, Mathieu helped me a lot (as he did for the choice of tracks and their sequencing by the way...) We tried out quite a few different things for the inside of the CD and the back cover. I think the trickiest part was getting Léa's 12 Optics to work with the 12 tracks on the album. As well as the choice of the 2 optics inside, bearing in mind that they were all really beautiful... After a few discussions and clarifications with Léa, the three of us agreed.

- Léa... could you tell us a bit about your process and how you create these beautiful pieces of art? Is your approach quite experimental or is there something already in your mind before you get to work?

It's very experimental, yes, it's direct experimentation with the material. But once I've mastered the particularities of the material, I have to put in place a process that allows me to tell the public about these wonderful exchanges that I've been lucky enough to experience in the workshop. This is when the precise, rigorous work begins, to ensure that what I do is as inconspicuous as possible in order to highlight the beauty of the material. This is the story of Optiques.

It all began with the work Cristaux, created in 2012, a mineral painting that generates an intense reflection of light in silver flashes. To highlight the pattern of the calcite, I devised a special device. In a building scheduled for demolition, a space is transformed into a camera obscura, with a large lens from a factory inserted into the wall. The crystals are pierced by the light of an opera projector, forming a pattern of light. The work Optiques consists of photographs of crystals taken through this large optical lens.

Somewhere between the random and the predetermined, the dendritic shape of the crystals and their arborescence are patterns found in nature. They are the imprint of water, the trace of the liquid that formed the material. The twelve photographs are reminiscent of the shape of tools used to observe reality, such as astronomical telescopes or petri dishes, which are beyond the reach of the human eye. The scale of the object photographed seems indeterminate, as does the nature of the mineral object, which is graphically close to a plant. This indecision allows us to better understand the interdependence of kingdoms and forms in the universe.

Christine Ott x Lea Barbazanges - Eclats Artwork

Léa Barbazanges - Eclats Artwork photo by Filicineae - Léa Babazanges & Isaak Rensing - credit photo Anthony Girardi pour Sinople
Éclats (Piano Works) is out now on CD and across digital platforms.
Gizeh shop / Bandcamp

Photo credits: Yasuaki Kitagawa & Mick Shenton
Filicineae - Léa Babazanges & Isaak Rensing - credit photo Anthony Girardi pour Sinople
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