L’art du toucher. Oseriez-vous?

The Art of Touch. Do you dare?

IMG_0491.jpg‘Emanessence’ (2018), 100 x 70 cm, mixed media on canvas ©Sève Favre 2018. Photo ©oneARTlover

Are you someone who, when you look at art, gets up close, scrutinises the brushstrokes, imagines time painted into the canvas, considers the artist, the human being behind it all and then you think to yourself dare I touch it? Well, we all know not to, right?! But what if we could, if art were accessible not only through our eyes but through our fingertips too? We’re not talking about man-handling the Mona Lisa or prodding a Monet or stroking the impasto surface of a Van Gogh (though that would be tempting!). Rather, how could art be experienced in a way that would return a deeper, imaginative encounter?

Historically, major museums and galleries uphold a ‘hands-off’ policy. Understandable. But let’s think back to the time of Renaissance Europe when viewing art and artefacts was a much more open affair. Private curiosity cabinets or ‘wonder-rooms’ (in German referred to as Kunstkabinett, Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer) were opened up to the public where handling objects as a way of learning was accepted etiquette. These locales were seen as the forerunners to modern-day museums and it’s easy to see how they worked for antiquities, sculptures and smaller cabinet paintings. But what about art on a large-scale in today’s modern setting where millions of visitors pass through but still can’t resist the urge to touch?

Meeting Swiss artist and art historian Sève Favre in her loft atelier near Lausanne recently opened up a conversation about the accessability of art and how our senses are used to create, interact with and experience art these days. Unafraid of challenging the norm, emerging artist Favre has developed a series of small and large-scale works for her ‘Intervariactive’ project where the viewer is invited to look, consider, touch and physically alter the original composition. Her method partially draws on the Japanese art of Kintsugi, repairing pottery with lacquer and powdered gold, silver or platinum where the gesture of touch becomes an event in the life of the object or, in Favre’s case, an artwork. Encompassing the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life associated with ‘Mushin’ or ‘no mind’ philosophy, these random or calculated, singular or multiple interactions by the viewer disregard the fragility of material and become part of the art’s history.

IMG_0695.jpgStudio view ‘Geological Osmosis’ unfinished (2018), 150 x 300 cm, diptych, mixed media on canvas. Photo©Sève Favre 2018

Using ink, pastels, acrylic and paper to create tactile layers and colourful, unstructured paintings, Favre abolishes the classic ‘out-of-bounds’ frontier between artwork and spectator to nurture a greater sense of openness. Numerous miniature boxes handcrafted from paper are fixed onto an abstract ground, some covering, others surprising with colour-blocked squares revealed at the point where the viewer begins his or her interaction. Choosing, changing, removing or replacing boxes to form a new, deconstructed creative landscape becomes a process of exchange, momentarily owned by the ‘interactor’ where the tiniest trace of pastel is transferred to fingertips and a hint of the individual remains on the canvas. As Favre brings our consciousness back to the sense of touch, so the composition that emerges from the meeting between artist and viewer becomes reciprocal.

But what about value? Does someone else entering into the creative process other than the artist devalue the work? Or can this personal involvement enrich the result in an original way, making it more valuable and sought-after? Consider the celebrity effect. As we see more and more endorsements by public, media savvy figures boosting art awareness these days, the golden touch isn’t such a far-fetched idea! Whatever the value, this connection to the artist and creative process is a step towards enhancing sensory experiences and perceptions generated by the paintings, nudging us to consider how we might encounter things not only from a seeing perspective. What a benefit it would be for some, where touch is an essential part of the art appreciation experience, while for others it is welcome relief from the visual pressure we are prone to in our image-saturated world.

As we encourage youngsters to look, listen, smell, taste and touch, we also notice art experience providers seeking novel ways to heighten sensorial audience participation. Pay a visit to any immersive digital exhibition where monumental projections using the latest computer technology and surround-sound acoustics combine art with our perception of space and body. It’s a wonderful assault on the senses. Similarly, other cultural art institutions offer interactive sessions for the visually-impaired or community initiatives where art becomes more accessible and inclusive encouraging social engagement. Favre’s individual project is a personal quest to encourage reception and dialogue between the artist and the viewer. With a trend towards accessible art, her willingness to think outside of the box and go beyond traditional etiquette is an intuitive move on this artist’s visionary grid and that reflection might be one step towards changing how we behave in museum spaces and the aesthetic appreciation of art in the future.

Sève Favre is one of 50 artists selected to exhibit at the Accessible Art Fair, Brussels, Belgium from 5-7 October 2018.

IMG_0488.jpg‘Suspension Intervariactive’ (2018), 120 x 100 cm, mixed media on canvas ©Sève Favre 2018. Photo ©oneARTlover

IMG_0489.jpg‘Emanessence’ (2018), 100 x 70 cm, mixed media on canvas ©Sève Favre 2018/ ‘Ascension Intervariactive’ (2018), 80 x 100 cm, mixed media on canvas ©Sève Favre 2018 / ‘Horizon Elaboré’ ((2017-2018), 70 x 100 cm, mixed media on canvas ©Sève Favre 2018. Photo ©oneARTlover

IMG_0490.jpg‘Suspension Intervariactive’ (2018), 120 x 100 cm, mixed media on canvas ©Sève Favre 2018. Photo ©oneARTlover

IMG_0702.jpgExhibition view, Zurich 2018, Sève Favre . Photo©Sève Favre 2018

IMG_0703.jpg‘Geological Osmosis’ (2018), 150 x 300 cm, diptych, mixed media on canvas. Photo©Sève Favre 2018

IMG_0706.jpgStudio view ‘Geological Osmosis’ unfinished (2018), 150 x 300 cm, diptych, mixed media on canvas. Photo©Sève Favre 2018

For more information visit www.sevefavre.com

Accessible Art Fair
Brussels, Belgium
From 5-7 October 2018

Toute reproduction interdite
© www.arteez.ch 2018