Johanna Baudou is an artist and poet, whom we interviewed last week on Podcast Episode #26: Harbours and Horizons. Johanna says she has “three homes”: the UK, France and Morocco. She also spent six years in Brazil, but for now she is based in London. She recently completed a temporary mural at the Slade Research Centre in London. Her recent work has been small-scale collages exploring surfaces, textures and feelings, and this was an opportunity to expand her practice in material.
She describes her work as, “vast, unbridled expanses, plains, night skies, ocean, and their counterparts: patterns, leaves, blossoms are all embodied in my artistic language. Different surfaces overlap and shift constantly from the distance to the surface, the elusive to the familiar, generating a spatial dynamism.”
Poetry is also an important part of Johanna’s process, whether through writing her own or looking to other poets for inspiration. For this particular project, she was inspired by the Syrian poet Adonis.
She recollects, “I discovered the poet Adonis by chance in a bookshop in France. In the first page I opened, there was this very short poem about the passing of time:
‘Spring said: even I get lost in each second that escapes me.’
These simple words made me realise that something deep inside of me has been shifting since I became a mother two years ago. Although my work has always questioned the notion of space and belonging, recently the idea of time has introduced itself and widened the spectrum of my research. In this mural project, I wanted to explore further the idea of the ephemeral, inspired by Adonis’ poem, ‘The colours of your first spring.’ For me, it was a way of questioning, in an abstract manner, the feelings of joy and the awareness that everything escapes us. The colours of spring are embodied by blue and yellow. The flow of paint depicts a vast, evanescent space over-layered by thin, degraded yellow lines falling down to create a sense of rhythm and time. Patterns are discreetly present, suggesting something familiar. And finally, the erasure: back to white.”
The temporary nature of this mural allowed Johanna to explore the performance aspect of the work. Throughout, she was conscious of making an art piece which was ephemeral; the process also echoed the passage of time.
For Johanna, the act of painting a mural inspired a sense of liberation. She describes it as:
“…like a dance movement, traces of a brush stroke which no longer exist – a state of evanescent, where the body and the paint pursue the possibilities of the moment. By inspiring myself from artists such as: the GutaiArt Society, Helen Frankenthaler, Cy Twombly, Richard Long, etc., where painting evolves the presence of the body, I intend to push my limits and feel a sense of freedom.”
Hear more from Johanna in our podcast: Ep. 26- Harbours and Horizons.
Or see more of her work here: https://www.johannabaudou.org/