Virginie Besengez - Spotlight, November 2012

SPOTLIGHT, November 2012: Virginie Besengez

Virginie Besengez Contemporary Ceramics - Featured on Ceramics Now Magazine

Interview by Vasi Hîrdo for Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two

Your body of work consists in reinterpretations in stoneware and porcelain of everyday objects. What sparked your interest for ceramics?

Firstly, an attraction toward the household objects led me to ceramic. I am deeply fascinated by clay and the gesture of the hand cupping the bowl.
Beyond the objects, my interest for this art was aroused by a strong link with the origin of humankind, the ancestral tradition of making household objects out of that universal and natural clay. Finally, meeting with ceramists and contemplating their work was a strong incentive to become part of that story.

The refinement and suaveness of your ceramic pieces are given by your attention to detail. Tell us about your educational background and other related experiences.

I had numerous trainings in France and Belgium with ceramists, during which I learned, observed and appreciated the simplicity of the gesture of the first movement. Permanently, I think of the first gestures man performed in order to create a clay or stoneware object.
I love the primitive aspect of this job whose rules have not changed for thousands of years.

How did the architecture of the North of France and the austere aesthetic of the Flemish still-life affected your work?

I am of Flemish origins, I have always lived in the North of France. I don’t believe in plain inspiration, it comes through our environment and culture. In my region and in the near Belgium country more particularly, the black color is omnipresent: in my ancestors clothes, in the colors of the walls, in Flemish paintings. When I walk around cities like Amsterdam or Gand, or along the enbankment in Anvers Harbor, or wandering in Bruxelles, what strikes me is the simplicity and efficiency of architecture, either XVIth century and ultra-contemporary. Streamlined shapes, huge openings to catch maximum light in spite of often grey skies.
My country is also a landscape of industrial wasteland. Former silos, unused steel factories, traces of a bygone industry in which concrete and rusty steel beams are the ghosts of that prosperous era.

Virginie Besengez Ceramics - Featured on Ceramics Now Magazine
Virginie Besengez, Brimming Over, 2012, Stoneware and porcelain, Diam. 50 cm x H. 40 cm. - View Virginie Besengez’s works

The monochrome compositions that you create give the viewer a subtle remembrance of the object design of the 60’s. Why did you choose not to use color in your works?

Color makes no sense to me, for me it takes too much space and leaves no room for subtlety and details. You need to have a poetic mind to be moved by the grey sea of the North, by the dull skies of Flanders.
Grey and black change according to the light, they are not permanent, thus the object has several lives in one day. I am particularly interested in the numerous shades of grey that light can enhance in a monochrome composition, depending on the clay, its closeness to an immaculate porcelain and the way pieces are laid out.
I have been influenced and inspired by Morandi, but also by urban wastelands, steel compression ready for recycling, odds and ends piled up at the back of an old scottish shop.

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Virginie Besengez

Virginie Besengez's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“I am inspired by the urban landscapes around me, the architecture of the North and by the austere aesthetic of Flemish still-life. I like plain clay, monochrome compositions. I shape my pieces and accumulate them according to an imaginary plan, to create installations in search of the perfect balance.

I have a feeling for everyday objects, for the physical relationship we have with them (the closeness we have to them) for the way they wear out.

My work on pans enable me to confront the apparent solidity of the piece which hits the collective subconscious, with the fragility of clay.” Virginie Besengez

Virginie Besengez draws her inspiration from nature. She is interested in the movement, repetition in the landscapes that are constantly changing with the wind and the light. ‘Like a photographer I would like to capture a moment in time by creating forms and curves similar to those found in nature. The texture of the surfaces of my vessels achieved by polishing, grinding and also raku firing is very important to me.’

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