Catherine Simoneau Pestel

Catherine grew up and worked in her father’s workshop (lacquer furniture restoring and painting). There she discovered the use of lacquer: a plant resin that serves as a coating for wood. Lacquer has its roots in ancient China and has been used there for over three thousand years, extending throughout Southeast Asia to become an art. Fascinated by her father’s work, Catherine focused on artistic studies and naturally chose to work with this medium. In 1988, her marriage took her to settle in Eure et Loire, where she opened a studio to work on her creations and was approached by an association to be a volunteer teacher of the art and technique of lacquer. Her desire to transmit to others echoes the spiritual heritage of her father and is itself expressed in her painting. This ancient art, from a culture of wisdom and patience, allows the artist to transcribe a deep questioning of life.
Catherine’s artistic work was first expressed by the traditional techniques of lacquer. On different media (wood, metal, and Plexiglas), she set minerals, textiles and metal into thick layers of fresh lacquer, as once did the ancients who inlaid mother of pearl, gold or coral. Now she focuses her research and artistic expression on a new medium: paper. When diluted, the lacquer is absorbed and penetrates to give a matt and transparent aspect. When thicker, it remains on the surface and folds in successive waves, capturing light.
Lacquer, whether vegetable or synthetic, permeates the surface, exhibiting its particular distinction of being both dull and bright, and continues to fascinate the artist. She draws, scratches, prints, and impregnates papers of different textures with lacquer, where it overlaps leaves of silver that have been tarnished with acid. Her works are often abstract, and even if she sometimes gives in to the pleasure of the figurative, it is the material that remains essential.

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