Corine Pagny’s drawings are snapshots, a record of the energy exchanged between the artist and her subject for a fleeting moment captured in time. Her work is personal, but the process is far from solitary—she needs willing participants. It’s the connection with people that she is most interested in.
The drawings—works in line punctuated with color—are made on different papers with a variety of media: graphite, ink, chalk, charcoal and paint, applied to drawing paper and denser rice papers. She usually has a model (or models), and they’re always in motion; She has referenced the laughter and bright lights of a carnival, and often, the flowing movements of dancers. Pagny channels the energy of her subjects, making marks without remorse, each stroke confident and strong, without hesitation or restraint. She spends no more than a few minutes on each one, and works in prolific bursts.
“It’s very quick,” she admits. “In one hour, I can make 100 drawings. But maybe I keep only ten. It depends. Sometimes I keep everything, sometimes nothing. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing. I don’t want to be boring.”
Even though each drawing is made very rapidly, her care and consideration comes through in the edit. After the fevered pace of a drawing session, when she sits down to review her work, she selectively discards the drawings that fail to convey the emotion she’s looking to capture. Here, quality trumps quantity, and only the best work ever sees the light of day.
During her sessions, she gives her models the freedom of a collaborator, using her eye and her hand as a medium through which to channel their particular expression. It is the energy released by their bodies and their movements that gives her work form and shape.
“If nothing happens with the person, with the human being, the drawings are bad,” she says. “I work sometimes with models because I have to. If nothing happens, if we cannot exchange anything, the drawings are already awful.”
In an odd way, it’s danger that draws her to such a process, the permanence of the ink; once it is applied to the paper, there’s no return.
With inks, she says, “You just have to do it, and you cannot come back. It’s done already. That’s what I love. I feel like it’s something dangerous. It’s not safe, it’s not sure.”
Pagny manages to capture movement and energy in two-dimensional drawings on paper in a way that transcends the limitations of the medium. And it’s fitting, because in her process, the medium is often herself.
“I start . . . music . . . ink . . . charcoal . . .
Physical presence of the living model, breathing, inspiring, bodies take shape.
Then the air flows differently . . . The spaces meet.
Connections reinvent themselves between her and my eyes, in the rhythm of the body that arises for me in its ephemeral gestures. The body unveiled on paper, the line gains strength, epidermal moment that is shared.
I would love your gaze to revolve, from the inside out, relentlessly . . ."
— CORINE PAGNY