Dorothée Louise Recker

Artist - Marseille

To paint the sky. The shades of blue, white, grey and red come togheter into a homogeneous set. The immaterial extends over Dorothée Louise Recker’s canvas. The center of her subject? Light, colors and memories. The many layers of paint spread with a brush merge into subtle gradations of color, often solar, celestial. The details disappear under her gesture trying to capture the essential, to translate her emotions in front of nature and the compositions that the sky offers her.

Dorothée Louise Recker’ childhood spent by the Mediterranean Sea forged her vision of the world, sensitive to the colorful variations of the landscapes that surround her. The work of color joint the one of the material. The Sand evokes the inspiration from the Côte d’Azur and the seaside. The artist reflects her research into the materiality of color.


At first glance, we would be tempted to label your work “abstract art”, and yet the colors are familiar to us as are their arrangement and association. The paintings evoke a soothing sunset landscape on a warm summer evening. Is this a source of inspiration?

Yes, it is. The sky, simply, not only the sunsets. I come from the South of France. My parents’ house is located in my grandfather’s mimosa plantation. I grew up on these hills, I have a really strong link with this region. Norway, where I was born, has also influenced my work with a certain imaginary, tinged with pure skies and aurora borealis.

But the South of France, the maritime atmosphere, the hills, the beach, the summers which run away… I speak above all about that, I want to restore this atmosphere, this vibration which is in the heart of myself.

The landscapes, the territory, is the starting point, the personal impulse. The painting, then, emancipates itself from the subject. The research around the materiality of the color, like the search for an immateriality, are the main thread of my work.

How did you develop this style? Were there several stages in the development of this work?

Originally, I started with figurative art. I presented only figurative paintings during my degree at the Beaux-Arts de Paris. In my figurative paintings, very pop, very colorful, there were already gradations of color, it was an element of my vocabulary. Gradually, I moved away from figuration because my compositions were beyond me. I wanted to make the void. Disappearance is at the heart of my work, I ended up making everything disappear to focus on the essential. I have a fascination for color and light, which have for me a deep magical dimension.

I try to depict sensations and emotions we can have in front of a particular light, a morning or twilight sky, a sunset, between twilight and dawn… It is a very simple thing, universal. Afterwards, the painting always obeys its own laws. It is a view on an elsewhere, not a story.


Discover her works


It seems that you developed your technique through experimentation. Can you explain the technique you use?

The gradation of color is the basis of my work. I work with oil painting and a brush. It operates by disappearance, by a gesture that I repeat: the more I repeat the gesture, the more I erase its trace on the painting – knowing that I have 24 hours to do a layer because the next day, it’s already too dry to work again. There are several layers on the painting, the last ones often being applied in transparency. For the big canvas, it is always a challenge, the work has a very physical, almost performative dimension. When I start a big painting, I don’t know if I’m going to make it. I really try to express this human dimension in front of the painting. This concept of touch, of hand. I try to erase all imperfections, all traces of my way, but I never succeed completely. I try to speak about something immaterial and evanescent with with human and material means and there is always a limit. I speak also, and probably above all, about this limit. I want to reach the immaterial – but my hand cannot imitate the sky.

You also make a whole series of technical variations from the gradient. Can you talk about it ?

The starting point is indeed the gradient, but since I diversified my research. Sand offers a counterpoint to flatness and atmospheric gradations; it is an elusive material that slips through the fingers while referring to the earth, to matter, to the tangible.

And then there is also the South, the seaside wink. The work of the grain in successive layers allows me to obtain a depth, a cloudy and unfathomable aspect of the surface. There is also a surprising disappearance of colors: depending on the type of sand, which can be shiny, or tinted, white or darker, the painted colors are modified, it works as a filter. The last blasting always creates a surprise. Sometimes it fails…

In the past, I have also developed a work on loose canvas, without a frame. One day, one of these canvases fell while the gradation was completed. A fold scratched the surface, everything had to be started again. Because of the frustration I crumpled up and trampled on the canvas. I then noticed that the color was flaking, that it changed the texture and the weave of the paint. So I started a series of crumpled canvases, which were, in fact, born of an accident.


Did you work specifically for Avenue du Roi, an exhibition which takes place in an apartment?

I worked on two different axes. Elie & Thomas wanted to have sandblasted paintings. I proposed a series of four medium formats, with the idea of the same window on the sky at different times of the day. I was really looking for this celestial reference, of a window open on the sky. Then, Thomas wanted something a bit new. At that time, I was working again on the free canvases. But what is difficult in the context of an exhibition, and even more in a gallery, is the hanging, the free canvas is not easy to hang, it must be really well thought out.

This year, I worked in a collective studio with a steelworker who designed a very simple system of steel bars to fix the canvas at the top and weight it down. I used it with sanded canvases, to have a heavy material, heavy, but without a frame, which also gives a lightness to the work. There is therefore an impression of levitation in tension with a very earthly dimension, a fall, a visual heaviness.

Photographer : Louise Skadhauge

Text : Thibaut Wauthion