SkyArt | the space in between


I used to doodle in the margins. Draw cartoonish figures — little stick figures that hung from the letters in my textbooks. I meant them to play on the perception of spaces, as though the drop from the heading to the first line were a doozy; as if the margin on the edge of the page was a chasm that the tiny figure was in danger of losing itself into, headlong. I’d also compulsively scrawl and fill in the closed spaces of letters — the hoop of the ‘o’, the head of the ‘e’, the belly of the ‘d’…I’d systematically fill the empty space.

In SkyArt, French artist Thomas Lamadieu draws captivating illustrations in the empty space of photographs of the sky between buildings. It’s charming. In his artist statement he says: “Jouer avec les formes pour pouvoir faire vivre le vide,” which I understand to mean roughly that he is playing with forms to bring the empty space alive.

I wonder that its charm isn’t that we’ve all tried our hand at doodling, and so can relate. Or maybe it runs deeper still, to some shared unconscious pleasure we take in filling any void. We love to confabulate, to make stories, in emptiness. Or perhaps — and this my favourite personal theory on the matter — it’s the saucy tongues on almost every illustration. The figures taunt you with the cutest little pink tongue, stuck out. I’d say that’s the smallest, earliest gesture we know that says:  ‘come here, I’m hiding something.’ And we almost can’t resist. Very sweet.


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