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French Artist Gaëlle Leenhardt Awarded Laureate of the First Large Scale Residency in Marfa, Texas

View of the exhibition Séquence Métamorphique, June 1-July 7, 2019, Treignac projet, Treignac, France

Marfa, September 12, 2019 – The Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston, TX and the Association Fénelon Beaux-arts (Nantes-France) are pleased to announce French artist Gaëlle Leenhardt (born 1987) as the winner of the inaugural Large Scale Residency in Marfa, TX.

Launched in 2019, this two-month residency focusing on research and experimentation will provide Gaëlle Leenhardt space and time to develop new projects and foster her artistic practice. Chosen among 61 applications, the artist will be awarded a $6,000 grant and a residency space located in Marfa.

“My fellow jurors and I were unanimous in our enthusiasm for Gaëlle Leenhardt's work and her proposal for the first edition of the Large Scale Residency in Marfa, says Dean Daderko, curator at the Contemporary museum of Houston. The formal invention in her work, and her facility with both sculpture and photography is remarkable. Her proposal offered a thoughtful balance between site-responsive research and an openness to digging in and making unexpected discoveries.”

Jury members:

  • Katherine Brodbeck, Senior curator of contemporary art, Dallas Museum of art
  • Dean Daderko, Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
  • Mélanie Rio, Galerist, Nantes, France
  • Ida Soulard, Art Historian, Scientific head of Fieldwork Marfa, Nantes, France
  • Anne-Claire Duprat, Program officer for Visual arts, Cultural services of the French Embassy, NYC
  • Marie Lozón de Cantelmi, Cultural Attaché / Curator, Cultural services of the French Embassy, Houston

The residency project: (quotes from her application form)

“Dig is the verb that introduces my practice in the most concise way.

Moving and manipulating what lays shapeless in the soil, I seek to bring to sight the hidden, and thus reveal its traces.

I use this buried matter which holds record of the past to reconstruct certain narration.

I play with the contrast between heavy materials and their fragile conditions or forms. Building unstable installations thus evokes the dynamics of perpetual construction and deconstruction. To emphasize that, I occasionally use residue and fragments of previous works and situations, and reenact them.

I consider my approach to artistic work very close to the practice of an archeologist. It involves surveying, excavation, archiving.

A big part of my work is developed in situ, in exchange with people I meet and in reaction to space and the history and contextual layers which determinates it.

My work is, by essence, nourished by different places and their histories, which I discover through the experience of observation and exchange with people that I meet on my journeys.

(…) As I mentioned earlier a big part of my work is “site-specific”, and the sculptures produced are often too big to be moved.

(…) Several things got my attention; at first the location of Marfa, the fact that nearby are the National park of Big Bend, and that the all area from a geological perspective have so many different landscape, different rocks, different material to work with. Also, in history, Cinnabar was dig out in different mines from the area, like the one from the city Terlingua. The cinnabar is a mineral, it is red, and in the prehistorical times there is a big chance that drawings in the caves where done with this mineral. The pigment is really particular, it is red, but after some time within the contact of the air it turns into black.

I would like to see if I can use some of that pigment and work with it. I was also interested in the Odessa meteor Crater, and all the history around it.

I would like to start a project from scratch, to have a chance to discover the area and to use the natural material around, stone, clay ... to produce a sculpture that would take part of the landscape, and stay there.”

View of the exhibition Les sols acides, April 12-May 19, 2018, ISLAND, Brussels, Belgique

Artist biography:

Born in 1987, Gaëlle Leenhardt graduated a MFA in Sculpture at ENSAV La Cambre, Bruxelles (Belgium) in 2012.

Solo Shows (selection)

2019     Séquence métamorphique, 1 June-7 July, Treignac Projet, Treignac, France
2018     Les sols acides, Island, Brussels, Belgium
              La fosse aux lions, Tonus, Paris, France
2017     Glorious Ruins, Kvaka 22, Belgrade, Serbia
2015     Les angles d’extinction / Uglovi nestajanja, gallery U10, Belgrade, Serbia

Group Shows

2017     Paris internationale, with Tonus, Paris, France
              On choisit pas sa famille / You don’t choose your family, Curated by Louise Sartor, Atelier Acturba, Paris, France
              Ležerna razmjena bez panike, Curated by Thomas Nolf and Gauthier Oushoorn, Galerija savremene umjetnosti Charlama, Sarajevo, Bosnia
2016     Some of My Best Friends Are Germs, Curated by Ana Iwataki and Marion Vasseur Raluy, Le DOC, Paris, France
              Team Building, exhibition and project with Dusan Rajic, Gallery KM8, Belgrade, Serbia
2014     Youth: portraits of artists, between freedom and fight, Maison Particulière, Brussels, Belgium
              59ème salon de Montrouge, Le salon de Montrouge, Montrouge, France