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Louise Despont Draws Deep

June 13, 2014

How does an artist get maximum results out of minimal means? Artist Louise Despont uses architectural stencils to create intricate pencil-on-paper drawings in her home and studio in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Working between a small desk and her bedroom floor, Despont’s daily practice, with a limited set of tools, yields surprising discoveries. “To be focused and dedicated to doing one simple thing can perhaps be the most transformative thing,” says the artist, “That as narrow as it is, it can be infinitely deep.” This film documents Louise Despont and her assistant Nicole Wong over the course of six weeks as they create Mediated Polarity and the Third Property (2014), a multi-panel drawing on antique ledger book paper.

Looking through her private notebooks, Despont reveals how years of experimentation with collage, ink blots, and freehand drawing led her to the incredibly refined process she uses today. The artist shares how each new drawing emerges organically, such as large-scale Roman Room (2014), often begun without a formal plan and initiated with just a few marks. “It’s a complexity that you can’t think up. It’s like little mineral deposits build up and make an entire surface.” As intuitive explorations of symmetry born out of pure geometry, Despont’s drawings tap into universal themes of energy, spirituality, and nature. The film concludes as Despont takes her latest drawing Garden (2014) to be framed at White Mule in Chelsea, looking at it one last time before it begins its journey out into the world.

More information and credits

Also featuring the works Hive Mind No.10, Hatch (2014); Dandelion Constellation I (2014); Bathing Constellation, Dusk (2012); Sandglass (2012); DI-EH (2010); and Blue Moon, Pondicherry (2010); with music by Antonio Vivaldi—Concerto in B flat Major: VIII Allegro vivace—and Johann Sebastian Bach—Cello Suite No.4 in E flat: V Serabande Bouree No.2 and VI Serabande Gigue.


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Producer & Editor: Rafael Salazar & Ava Wiland. Cinematography: Rafael Salazar. Sound: Ava Wiland. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio, Open. Artwork: Louise Despont. Music: J.S. Bach, Musopen & Antonio Vivaldi. Thanks: Virgil Bailey, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Anne Gibbs, Jeremi Poulin & Nicole Wong. An ART21 Workshop Production. © ART21, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Art21 New York Close Up is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and by individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Louise Despont

Louise Despont was born in 1983 in New York; she lives and works in New York and in Bali, Indonesia. Since discovering the potential of working with pencil and architectural stencils on paper, Despont has adopted an intuitive process in which she allows her drawings to develop as she creates them, resulting in an almost devotional object comprised of dense colors and shapes. Having collected images for many years, Despont complements her broad visual references with her interest in energy and spirituality.