Eaten by ducks - an interview by Gaspard Garcia

Eaten By Ducks
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nobody can avoid the radical in Anne van der Linden’s paintings; many also see the sentimental and peaceful dimensions of them. I’m seeking the human nature and tragedy that they are transcribing.
There are often contrasts between characters who are detached from the scenes depicted and those who are fully conscious and affected by them. This is the case in the painting where a child has his mouth and arsehole carved by the Alder king who also happens to be his father. The sadness on the face of the father who is teaching a lesson about life when the child seems blasé and bound by his flesh may be a profound statement about vice. This is tragic.
Also I respect very much that in Anne van der Linden’s paintings many different situations and relationships are present. The social patterns (gender, age, social class, lifestyles, sexual preferences etc…) aren’t always the same. When consumerism encourages people to define their identity so they can fit the market that has been designed for them, this multiplicity reminds us that we can face all the dimensions of our specie. The radical dimensions of these paintings work as a gargoyle: they protect something. Also Anne's paintings are sexy and hilarious!

L: I’d like to know more about the different artistic directions you’ve explored… What were your different steps?

A: I started with improvised drawings, a mix of figures, symbols and abstract objects and lines, then I went to art school for 2 years and after that started a 3 or 4 year experiment with abstract painting. They were very thick, organic paintings, I tried to get away from consciousness and judgement in order to create a pure expression of inner feelings...well that was bullshit, I mean a deadlock for me which drove me close to depression, so after a 3 year break, I went back slowly to narrative art.

L: You wrote that your work was grotesque social pornography. Why? What should it mean? Is there something strategic in this term, something you believe in?

A: I cannot remember myself saying that, I should have said “obscenity” rather than “pornography”.
But truly there is something grotesque in my figures: they are so ambiguous, caught by a situation they don’t seem to belong to, assuming all the social codes while making them untidy, invaded by bestiality and at the same time so stiff and civilized. I think that this permanent contrast of order and disorder brings the sensation of social obscenity.

L: You’ve been involved in performances with Jean-Louis Costes? Could you describe these performances?
It was quite a long time ago, it was fun having a rock ’n roll band life style, touring and doing crazy things on stage, and a strange sensation of getting out of my body while I was acting, as if in a trance.

L: Any anecdotes or striking moments?

A: I got knocked in the face by a Swiss girl who came on stage while I was acting. After the show I went to get her and asked her why she did that, and her answer was “Did you see how they treated you on stage?” A feminist answer… Ha! Ha!

L: I have the feeling that many artists who’ve evolved in the same context as yours are quite reticent to comment about their work. What about you?

A: Commenting is something I need to do, it’s always an opportunity for me to clear my ideas, and put distance between myself and creation, that enables a renewed vision.
But it’s not so easy though. Sometimes the words are much lower than the image, just superfluous, or sometimes they kill the image! One has to find a way....I hope I do!!!

L: I guess that 90 percent of the « psychological interpretations » people want to make when they look at paintings are erroneous. When you have the opportunity to discuss your art, what sort of themes did the viewers questioned you about?

A: I don’t know, not that interesting in general... seems that most of the time viewers ask questions to themselves and not to me!
I don’t blame them but it’s just boring ... generally it’s about sex and taboos, things that they search for or, on the contrary, reject, or how I can live and assume such a type of art etc...
In general I believe that few people can look at a piece of art and penetrate its logic, only very sensitive persons can do that... or professional eyes...

L: What passes through your mind when you’re painting? What sort of correlation is there between what you’re representing and what you’re actually thinking? Any symbols? Signs?

A: I start from a drawing or a sketch, so while painting I first think about technical matters, how to build my image, the volumes, contrasts, colors and shape associations, so maybe what passes in my mind would be “sensitive thoughts”, how I feel my own body, the surrounding light (summer or winter light) etc...
Then while keeping working, an atmosphere takes place, that goes beyond the basic drawing and brings new emotions and references (dreams, other paintings, stories)...from that point the painting pulls me to it’s own meaning, and I have to possibly add the elements that it asks for..

L: Loads of your paintings are mise-en-scenes involving several characters, how do you construct the image? Do you improvise much?

A: I never improvise, it’s a long process, not so easy putting together all those characters, also I have no models as you can see.
So I have to draw and try first to build a choreography that I have only partly in mind at the beginning and which gets more precise while drawing, with the game of lines and shapes

L: In theses scenes maybe something both animalistic and ritual could be perceived?

A: Yes, it may be that: I am a lost and suffering animal in this world, and I demand with my art to the obscure forces that drive me to be favorable, not to hurt me.

L: Sometimes it seems that you’re taking the piss out of customs and lifestyles (I remember a painting depicting a woman shitting on a house and another one with a bride clasping a big phallus)…

A: Well...
Certainly I like to make things clear... married girls need eternal big dick rather than eternal big love... this can be a refreshing idea, and when I paint it I laugh !
But of course destroying the old statues brings chaos, who knows what will come out of it... We seek for order... then kill it...etc... then we have to find new models.
(One of the results of my having turned against old rules is my loneliness)

L: How do you perceive self portraits? Do you wish to keep distance with your art? I mean some artists want people to know that their art doesn’t show what they are, some don’t know what they are doing but afterwards want to understand something about themselves, and some try to express what seems to be blocked inside… Do you think you would fit in any of theses categories?

A: Hum! I can say for sure that my characters reassemble me, more or less, in terms of body structure... and the technique, one should pay attention to the way artists use their brushes for example: it is a language, a confidence by itself.
So this way, and avoiding private confessions, I can assert that my painting is me!!...the transcription of my body and soul.

L: Is it painful to paint?

A: No, very less than digging holes.

L: Is there something you want to say about your writings?

A: I read a lot but write very little, the last thing I wrote was “Je veux être ton singe” (I want to be your monkey) a short story that I illustrated... since then I’ve been quite locked.

L: Your videos?
A: I tried to put in action the themes of my paintings and it was fun, I did it with friends for the first one called “Le repassage” (the ironing), then for the 2 following, I collaborated with “professional” guys who tried to abuse me, and since then I haven’t done any movies again...
A good thing with painting is that you are the master of your world, you don’t need to deal with people