1 December 2016–11 February 2017

Fabienne Verdier Soundscapes – The Juilliard Experiment

Patrick Derom Gallery, Brussels

As a visual artist with a strong musical sensibility, Verdier was delighted to accept the Juilliard School’s invitation to work during the fall semester of 2014 with noted musicians on a pioneering creative program, alongside pianist Philip Lasser, soprano Edith Wiens, conductor William Christie, cellist Darrett Adkins and jazz musicians Kenny Barron and Ray Drummond. Transported by sound, Fabienne Verdier allowed music to suffuse her work, dictating her strokes to create paintings at the frontier between the visual arts and performance.  

The experiment engendered an authentic dialogue between music and painting – disparate yet closely connected expressive forms. The challenge was to find a shared language, and common sources of inspiration. “Through this work – reacting to one form of expression through the medium of another – I came to understand the interpenetration of waves of sound and paint,” Verdier explains. 

Fascinating and daunting in equal measure, this bold experiment proved immensely enriching for the musicians and artist alike – an opportunity for each to revisit his or her creative practice, and to open themselves to the unknown. Fabienne Verdier’s paintings and past experiments testify to what she describes as her need to “put herself in jeopardy”, in order to nourish and refresh her painterly vocabulary. “Working [with the musicians], I understood that we must learn how to un-learn ourselves and discover new ways of thinking,” she says, “to lay ourselves bare, and find release from the suffocating effect of our accumulated knowledge. I quickly realised how important it was to transgress against previously received aesthetic concepts, and against my habits as a painter. The ‘encounter’ with the world of sound was very disruptive – suddenly, I found myself disagreeing profoundly with my practice as a painter up to now.”