Céramique, 23 X 18,5 X 17 cm, 2011. © Jully Jeunet
VW : What interests you in an exhibition devoted to white?
TS : It's being in a group show. Yves Sabourin chose two pieces for this exhibition : a sculpture - a skull - and a drawing, because he sees a dialogue between this head and the mental pattern that emerges from this great white drawing. I would not have thought of it spontaneously and that is what interests me.
VW : However your last personal exhibition at Frédéric Lacroix was entirely composed of white pieces?
TS : I wanted to integrate these sculptures in this white and very bright space, the ceramics melted in matching tones on the walls. There is something deaf and mute in the white. Thomas Salet does not like to talk about his work.
Each white page is a stage of a travel started a long time ago. White, unnamed, is not for him the color of purity or softness, it is the color of all possible, the color of the traditional medium that are paper and canvas.
In his series of constellations, of which a work is shown here, Thomas Salet draws in pencil on the paper discs which he then paints in gouache. It ’s a volume drawing - by the perspective view of the circles that deform into ovals from a horizontal central axis and by the use of threads that give relief. This series did not start with white, but with red disks on a green water paper. Here the gouache is matte white, a white different from the white of the old paper, and the contrast between the two will deepen with time - then he connects these discs with thread to create a constellation. All these points become elements of a network, a mesh of the surface.
Thomas Salet works several series over a very long time. He leaves them aside, takes them back. When he sees them again, or thinks about them, sometimes ten years later, he sees how he can move forward. The drawing shown is part of a series that began long ago, with the « porteurs » it has always done ; The silhouettes were opened, there were additions, then threads to connect them.
What also stimulates Thomas Salet, are these moments spent with people - capturing connections, connivances, without naming them.
Fifteen years ago, he found a skull in a cemetery. Initially what attracted him to this object was the inside of the cranial box; It was for him to work inside the head, the thoughts.
It starts from a block of clay that it shapes - the study clay has irregularities and a tint that brings it closer to the bone. Then it is hollowed out. Then, the needle points create pores for breathing, on a skull which is in principle opposed to the idea of breathing since it is a bone; Breathing introduces life into it. This desire to turn visible an idea - is what gives birth to the work.
He is interested in the solidity given to a vulnerable form - the clay, which it cooks increasingly hot, the wax that becomes bronze.
I tell him that I see in his white pieces, of which the great perforated papers, a great deal of violence presented with infinite gentleness. He tells me that it's possible, but that's not what he sees.
Museum Jean Lurçat and contemporary tapestry 2012, Angers.
Curator Yves Sabourin.