Zoom on the creative process of Rouge

Can you remind us who you are and your artistic practice?

My name is Rouge, Rouge Hartley, well, that’s the name I chose for myself when I started working on the street and needed an alias to sign my work. I work in painting, drawing and sometimes installation, with a resolutely figurative and narrative practice.

What is your background, how did you start creating?

I have had a taste for painting and drawing since childhood; I studied art at the University (Strasbourg) and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (Bordeaux), where I developed research in performance, video and installation. There I learned to build a process and to densify my practice, but I didn’t find the place to make images.

The street became my playground during my studies, its space offered me the possibility of associating my love of the urban walk, of drawing and of a militant and contextual thirst.

In your daily work as an artist, what inspires you? What triggers the creation of a work?

Honestly, everything. I usually don’t realize it right away. I listen to podcasts all day long, I write down everything that catches my ear on a wall in my studio. I also try to read a lot, watch the news, listen to my friends and neighbors, walk around as much as possible, and spend a lot of time watching what artists are producing around the world.

I have an inner space where more or less digested fragments of literature, cinema, sociology, philosophy, music or painting can cohabit on an equal footing with an anecdote I come across by chance, a remark from a passer-by or the sight of my overflowing laundry basket. They are all likely to bring a sudden light on an intuition.

Can you explain to us the way in which you construct a work? What are the different stages of creation?

I decide to produce a work when an image intuition crosses with something else, like a poem, an issue or a context, and thus gains enough density to be attempted.
I then make a quick sketch to place the composition in the space of the wall or canvas; I solicit models for a photo shoot, which I retouch in a collage-like photomontage process during which I try to slightly disrupt the scales or lights to introduce a strangeness, a distracted vibrancy, and I work on my framing to try to bring a narrative tension.
I then make a quick study of small size, often on wood, to define my palette, to decide on the zones of sharpness and those which will seek a form of abstraction, especially to evaluate whether or not I will take pleasure in painting this image during several days, whether or not it lends itself to one, if possible several stories.
Then, I paint, with oil on canvas or acrylic on wall, by starting sometimes from a very gestural bottom, by trying to sketch only with the paint (on a setting with the tile), rather brutally, to go up little by little in clearness and matter with in head the desire of a plastic generosity (textures, colors, reserves) above all.

Find the Instagram of Rouge here