Blown away by her expressive power, we have been following the artist Catherine Ursin for years,
In 2020, we met her for the first time following a wonderful four-handed work with the photographer Vanda Spengler.
We had also followed her project of five metal dancers with passion.
An appointment had been made for some time for her to talk to us about her work. At the end of May 2021, we were able to meet this militant artist in her studio flat!
Outsider artists family
After studying Fine Arts in Angers, Catherine Ursin worked as a freelancer in computer graphics and video. Gradually, the artistic part of her work increased. She creates collages. She also creates illustrations for the press and publishing industry.
“All this happened naturally”, she confided to us during our visit to her studio flat in the 12th arrondissement of Paris.
In 2003, Catherine Ursin exhibited her creations at the “Printemps des singuliers” at the Espace Saint Martin in Paris. This exhibition represents an important step in her life as an artist. She immediately felt at home in the family of art brut and singular and now occupies a very special place.
She expresses her indignation and her fight against violence against human beings.
Art as a militant act
When asked about her power as an artist, Catherine Ursin pauses before answering.
In fact, I just have the power to make people think. Nowadays we live in a time when the space for speech and freedom is being reduced. Creating is even more important, even more important but also even more difficult.
It is with this approach that Catherine Ursin created her large manifesto book (125 x 214 cm closed and 250 x 250 cm open) “DIRE NON”. She created it for the exhibition “Délires de livres” which takes place every year in Viroflay and which presents artistic creations around the book.
This work was created for the 2018 edition of Délires de livres. It was the 50th anniversary of May 68 and I wondered what was important to claim today. Probably more humanity.
It is always with this approach that she took this large book to the event “Les amoureux d’Aligre” which took place on Sunday 2 May 2021 at the Place d’Aligre in Paris.
Catherine Ursin likes to create visually as much as she likes to use words. Her large book is not only a visual work, it is also a strong text. Her slogans are hard-hitting and to the point: like the slogans of May 68, they resonate universally. His drawings come to life and sway in an expressive choreography to chant the slogans and beat time.
crédit photos : Nicolas Daniel
Catherine Ursin is a masterful director of the movement of bodies. Bodies that suffer, that claim, that refuse and that dance.
I am not a dancer, but I love dance. Dancers’ bodies have shapes and movements that inspire me. They have interesting deformations even if for the dancers it is their normal state.
In the same vein, Catherine Ursin created a performance on hysteria transmitted on Zoom. This event gave rise to repetitive movements which also fed into her drawings. Catherine Ursin makes full use of the body as an artistic expression.
Because of the pandemic, we are forbidden to touch each other, so I am changing my drawings. Before, the bodies intermingled, penetrated each other, but now I work on series of drawings where the bodies are no longer in contact with each other. They float or fall, you don’t really know. It’s up to the viewer to decide.
Design but also metal
Catherine Ursin is a draughtswoman, painter, author and also a sculptor. For a long time, the artist has been creating works in iron. More recently, she has created sculptures in metal recovered from oil drums. She cleans the metal sheets, cuts them out, assembles them and welds them together to make figures.
His latest work is a great success. It is a group of five dancers cut out of gigantic red drums. There is shamanism, witchcraft and primitive dances in this composition. And also femininity claimed.
Each dancer is more than 2 metres tall. They are welded together and then assembled to form a circle. Tied together by concrete irons in the ground and thin cables, they barely seem to touch the ground in their vital, collective dance circle.
This work has been a real project over a long period of time and has required experimentation for an absolutely exceptional result.
Catherine Ursin is currently working for the University of Lyon 3 (in partnership with Sauce Singulière) where she is carrying out a very large project with multiple artistic aspects.
For the resto’U, she will create a mural on the theme of water. She will also create a temporary installation (1 September to 28 November 2021) entitled “Freedom or Death”, inspired by Haitian independence. She will create a performance art piece “Encore est un temple” and will lead a creative workshop for students during the academic year 2021-2022.
In parallel, Catherine Ursin is preparing an exhibition for the 9BHN (Biennale Hors Normes), “You are a unique flower that the world does not want to let live”, which will be held from 17 September to 28 November 2021.