Louise Despont: Drawing from Life in Bali | Art21 "New York Close Up"

Louise Despont: Drawing from Life in Bali | Art21 "New York Close Up"

How deeply can a place permeate an artwork?

A native New Yorker now working in Bali, Louise Despont shares how her adopted island home shapes her intensive practice, informing the devotional, meditative, and fragile elements of her drawings. "I know that the most important thing to make good work is time and space," says the artist, "and living in Bali, that's where I was going to have the most of it.”

While the spirituality of Bali aligned with Despont's aesthetic, the tropical climate made her drawings vulnerable—a problem she solved with a dehumidified case. The artist herself was in a vulnerable place when she first arrived on the island in 2016, at the time of film; she moved to the country alone after a relationship ended. "I wasn't sure how I could make the work not being in love," she says, but she soon found that her drawing practice sustained her. "Me in the studio with paper was there whether or not I was in a relationship."

For her 2016 exhibition at The Drawing Center in New York City, Despont created an immersive drawing that imagines energy as a physical body, documenting its lifecycle from embryo to "a return to formlessness." Conceptual artist Aaron Taylor Kuffner's gamelatron—a robotic version of the traditional Balinese orchestra, the gamelan—transformed the space into a sanctuary, and gave viewers the opportunity to, as Despont puts it, "travel through the drawings in their mind."

Louise Despont (b. 1983, New York, New York, USA) lives and works between New York and Bali, Indonesia. Learn more about the artist at:

CREDITS | "New York Close Up" Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Producer: Wesley Miller. Editor: Wesley Miller. Cinematography: John Marton, Wesley Miller, and Andrew Whitlatch. Design & Graphics: Chips. Color & Mix: Anita Hei-Man Yu. Artwork Courtesy: Louise Despont and Aaron Taylor Kuffner. Music: Aaron Taylor Kuffner, Gunung Sari Peliatan, and Waroeng Sebatu Gamelan. Thanks: I Lanang Bagus, Nicelle Beauchene, Jasmine Cannon, Community of Penestanan, Community of Ubud, The Drawing Center, Mata-Mata (the cat), Molly Gross, Gunung Kawi Sebatu, Kent Henricksen, Ni Luh Putu Wiwik Krisnayanti, Ni Kadek Nopi Kristina, Brett Littman, Puri Agung Peliatan, Ni Nyoman Srimben, and Tirta Empul. © Art21, Inc. 2019. All rights reserved.

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

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