Everything I draw I store in the logbook of my head
With her sketchbook as a guide through our conversation, Antwerp-based artist Jade Kerremans told us more about the absurd every day, the process of drawing, the logbook in her head, snakes & shapes and the excess of men. On a terrace in the small village of Machelen near the RR Museum, between the thunder and the dark clouds filled with rain, we reflected on the exhibition ‘See, think, paint. A conversation with Roger Raveel’.
Can you tell me something more about yourself?
In 2017, I graduated with a master's in Graphic Design at KASK in Ghent, where I could combine illustration, design and graphics through different modules. After my education, I began to work as a freelancer. I lived in Ghent for seven years and moved to Antwerp last year. In September I started teaching at the academy of Schoten. I see myself as a drawer but my drawings can generate very different effects. They can live very different lives. A drawing can be the basis for a book, a sculpture, a logo, but the act of drawing will always be the starting point of my work.
What are you mainly working on at the moment?
At the moment everything is fragmented. In my studio at Linkeroever I try to only make work for myself, but above all, work that is allowed to fail and that is detached from finality or a specific purpose. My work as a freelancer required me to be creative on command, which made my practice less my own. As a result, I lost the pleasure of creating for a while. My studio is now a place to find that pleasure again. I'm not the type of person that works in her studio from 9 to 5, though sometimes I wish I was. I start working when I have an idea, for example in my bed or at the kitchen table or preferably on the train. That's when the best drawings come into being.
Raveel is 100! Where do you see your work in 75 years?
Over the years a lot will change and a lot will be added. I certainly haven't tried everything I want to try yet. Currently, I don't make much work that really has a fixed physical form, which makes it hard to archive. I hope to be able to do something with my drawings that have a wide and lasting reach. I want to make work with which I can tell something. Maybe for me, telling stories not only equals visual work but also tends to experiment with sound, music and performance.
Your work as an everyday phenomenon, or rather absurd reality?
What has always fascinated me, and still does, is the obvious, especially the absurd in it as well as the questioning of what we take for granted. The fact that we are constantly surrounded by everyday objects and logos is so common that we don't pay attention to them anymore. Throughout these absurd times, in which I disagree with a lot of issues, it sometimes feels silly to talk about the everyday. Artists don't necessarily have to stand on the barricades, but I do feel the urge for artists to speak out a little more about what's going on. Nevertheless, every day feels like something where you can find a certain amount of truth. By looking at the things in front of you, you can find a lot of poetry, philosophy and truth. That is what Raveel did: he stayed close to his everyday reality which contained, for him, the truth.
Throughout these absurd times, it sometimes feels silly to talk about the everyday
'See, Think, Paint', is the exhibition title similar to your process?
During our walk through the exhibition, I had written down: 'Drawing is looking, drawing is understanding.' With this, I can relate to artists who look and want to register for some reason, probably because they want to understand. When I have drawn an object, I usually understand it. Everything I draw, I store in the logbook in my head, which grows over the years. There are always shapes that keep coming back. The snake is one of these shapes which has been haunting me for over a year. Once a form is installed in your head it becomes a mould that you can deform and fill with different meanings.
How does experimenting with other materials capture your imagination?
What I appreciate about Raveel is that he did not stick to any one style, form, or material. This is something I recognize in my own process. There will always be a common thread in themes I work around, independent of the material I use. However, it can give a new twist to my work. Last year I apprenticed with a stained glass artist. I love to see how my drawings find their way into other materials: a sculpture, a logo, a stained glass window, a mural or an illustration for a podcast. This variation creates multiple and different approaches to my work.
How did you experience this exhibition in relation to your day-to-day surroundings?
There was definitely something sceptical in my viewing because I knew it was an exhibition almost exclusively made up of white men, which is something I am extremely turned off by. Wandering through a museum for me is about observing techniques, interpretations, and intriguing details I notice. Yet this is sometimes taken over by the frustration that, while visiting an exhibition, you are confronted with something that you simply have to relate to. In everyday life, you are more the author of your own gaze. I do recognize the love that Raveel felt for his village and it is something that comes back to me more and more. It helps me to have an eye for the simple again.
The public is always looking over my shoulder, maybe even too much. In my studio, I try to let go of that as much as possible
Are there any upcoming projects we should keep an eye on?
A number of projects have been completed recently. I made illustrations for a podcast series by KAAP and for a theatre play by Teletext. As a visual artist, I collaborated on the Tarot Editions project in 019. I was also commissioned by Het Bos in Antwerp to make a design for a Riso print. This Summer, I will create a mural in the Lange Leemstraat in Berchem and at the end of August, I will participate in ‘De berg die tot aan de hemel reikt', an exhibition by Werktank, in collaboration with artist Pierre Gorric and which will take place in Leuven. Meanwhile, I’ll be making drawings for a joke book I'll publish together with Sam Pladet.