'This is my camera': French illustrator-sculptor Jacques Servières makes presentation of his Kolkata sketches
Jacques Servières is on a month-long residency programme Alliance Française du Bengale in Kolkata
“This is my camera,” says French artist and illustrator, Jacques Servières, who recently gave a presentation of his sketches, from Kolkata, called Jacques Servières in the City of Joy, at the Alliance Française du Bengale.
The artist and sculptor, who is known for creating the open air sculpture garden on the banks of the river Marne since 1987, braved freezing temperatures to create the limestone sculptures, at the age of 30. His sculptures have soft round edges and capture various scenes from daily life, in huge structures. They depict quiet moments between human beings or animals, or a scene observed in daily life. “You have to love the stone to make a sculpture,” he says. “It is complicated to find a form- but when you do, with time you simplify your own work,” he adds.
Later he switched to sketching and painting. But his work does not deal with too much detailing. Instead, he captures light and shade in his sketches- whether they are about the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata, a library in Chandernagore, Tagore House or the Howrah Bridge. Armed with a folding chair, a black pen and a sketch notebook- he walks through lanes and by lanes of each city he visits and translates into sketches, within an hour or a half, scenes from day-to-day life or simply just a fleeting moment of time during the day.
Jacques travels far and wide for his work, whether it is South America, Nepal, El Salvador or Honduras. It is the cultural surprise, which makes him want to sketch each and everything he finds in a new country, although he doesn’t know the specific names of places in the city- the prospect of sketching faces of people, excites him and makes him explore a new city differently- without a digital camera. “I try to make a general view, not a portrait,” says the artist, who taught play therapy in Public Psychology Centre for kids, France before retirement. “At first I try to find the big lines and then the light and the shadow,” he adds.
Even his paintings in oil colours, show a play between light and shadow with colours that blur and merge at the edges, without sharp outlines- whether it is blooming lavender tree in Corsica or trees found around the Mediterranean sea with red branches and green leaves. “Painting is between sculpture and sketching, and a very corporeal thing. You have to mix the colours and work around the right combination. I don’t use too many colours. I have just six tubes,” he says.
“I try to work from the feeling I have inside; it is not coming from the brain. Before I start the work, I need to know what the scene from outside is, so that I can drive your view inside the work,” he adds. Andre Derain, Albert Marquet and Nicola de Stael are some of the artists he admires, including others from the beginning of the 20thcentury.