WHISPERS – a group exhibition at the Ronchini Gallery – is artist Adeline de Monseignat’s first curatorial project, and is based on the concept of the childhood game of ‘Chinese Whispers’. With one original painting as a starting point, it took twelve artists and twelve months to evolve, with all thirteen works being revealed to the public and to the artists themselves for the first time at the preview of the exhibition.
De Monseignat only stipulated four rules for the twelve artists to follow for the project:
Rule #1: You, the artist, will ‘replicate’ the artwork given to you.
Rule #2: It is in your power to understand the term ‘replicate’ however you like: this goes for style, scale, medium. Rule #3: You will not have seen the ‘original’ artwork (except for the first artist), only the artwork given to you. Rule #4: You will have up to 1 month to complete your replica from the day the artwork to ‘copy’ is lent to you.
Below is my excerpt from the exhibition catalogue about the process of creating my image:
“What was the essence of the Whisper I was to attempt to replicate: a summary of its formal elements, or rather the story that it may be hinting it? I knew that any attempt at a ‘forgery’ would have been both impossible and a disaster for me. Still, how indeed do you communicate something of another artists’ hand – with respect for the details that you have observed while in a voice that feels authentic to you? The text alongside the figure was another question throughout my process. How long had it been part of the story? Had it altered along the way? Would I naturally have used text within my own image making practice and did it serve the image I had made?
Staying more within a formal observation of the Whisper, I drew and painted the image over and over again. And no matter how I planned it each time: what to bring through, what to leave behind, what to alter – the process and materials dictated and I had even less control than I thought. Whispers within a whisper started to unfold, as the image shifted a little with each work.
In the last hour and over ten paintings, drawings and prints later, an image came together which I felt translated a sketch of what I had seen and understood, in a language that made sense to me. Working in print, the image was reversed in the process. The text, which had fallen along the way, came back in the final piece – where a blind emboss offered a way of including just a ghost of it. While the painted image was mirrored, the embossed text was simple and kept the original way around.”
A video shot at the Artists Dinner at Ronchini Gallery on 9 December 2015 can be seen below.