Spotlight

Artist Story: Adeline Meilliez

 

Adeline Meilliez is a French screen printer and artist based in Berlin. Her experimental style ranges from bold graphic illustration to vintage filmic prints, both hinting at an intriguing narrative.

Join us in conversation with Adeline as she shares her influences and passion for the city that has shaped her work.

Have you always been creative, or did you discover your talent later?

When I was young, I wanted to be a volcanologist. I think I must already have been fascinated by the colour of the lava, the explosion of colours. When I was ten my grandparents took me to a Henri Matisse exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. I felt something very powerful, almost like a religious experience. I was immensely moved by the artist’s work. This feeling became more intense and, in the years that followed, I knew I wanted to be in a creative environment. 

"If I wasn't an artist I'd be…"

My husband and I have started to learn about beekeeping. We both want to reconnect with nature through our urban garden and growing local produce. The challenge we face this century is ecological and we felt it was important to have a family project that addresses it. Plus, we can branch out to learn about other fields. I'd also like to grow tinctorial plants so I can make my own pigments and dyes, for example.

Adeline in her studio in Berlin. Credit: Chloe Desnoyers

Describe a working day - what time do you get up? Do you have any daily rituals?

The days I go to my studio I get up early and enjoy watching my city – Berlin, where I have lived for 12 years – quietly wake up. I cycle through the immense and still-sleepy Tempelhof airport, which has been closed for years. I need a good coffee before I go into the studio. My morning ritual enables me to mentally prepare for the studio day ahead. I try to enter a meditative state/trance, a flow, which gets my feelings and creative juices flowing.

What is your most productive time of day?

Definitely mornings! Before Covid, I liked to go clubbing (Berlin is great for clubbing) and after a night dancing in a trance to the music, I would go to the studio very early in the morning. 

The artist studio in Berlin city centre

Where do you work - studio or home? Do you have a room with a view?

I'm very fortunate to be able to work in the studios of the city of Berlin. The printing studio is in a magnificent building, a former hospital. From outside it looks not unlike a castle. Inside, the high ceilings, the grandeur of the spaces, the incoming light and its uninterrupted view over the park make it an incredible place to work. 

The space is owned by the city and made available to Berlin artists. The atmosphere is very professional and the equipment is first-class. I'm lucky to be able to work and develop my ideas there.

Do you have a favourite painting outfit?

Yes! I sew and make my own workwear and clothes. For the screen printing studio I have made myself a very comfortable denim jumpsuit with quite a few pockets for my tools. I have modelled it on work overalls. I like that I can wipe my paint-covered hands on it (because I only wear it in the studio) so it bears the traces of my work.

What materials do you use?

Colour is very important to me. It's an essential step in my creative process. I work with pigments, binder and paints, and I mainly use dyes because they offer endless possibilities. I do sometimes make my own paints by mixing different things like make-up, spices, coal, or lipsticks to achieve very personal shades.

What are the main themes to your work?

Floral motifs are central to my work but they evolve, both traditional and decorative, in a quest for meaning. In my latest, highly aesthetic, series the image appears through a combination of diverse techniques (photograms, monotyping, screen printing and painting). The colours are vibrant and represent joy, resilience. Femininity and old photos are constants in my creations.

Do you draw on personal experiences?

Yes, I always have a Moleskine notebook with me and I sketch every day. I have created several travel journals which inspired my first series of paintings. I like visual note taking, watercolours, drawings or Chinese ink. I have around 50 notebooks at home. I love to draw my children. When you draw, you observe: you take time to absorb the light and the atmosphere. It's a vital stage in my artistic process.

Artist's sketchbook

What other artists inspire you? Who are your art heroes?

I'm hugely inspired by the careers of 20th century female artists such as Niki de Saint Phalle, Hilma af Klint and Georgia O'Keeffe. I have great admiration for Frida Kahlo, for her life, her political engagement and her art. It's a destiny I would describe as heroic. 

What was the last art exhibition you went to see?

The Katharina Grosse exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin left nobody indifferent. There were so many colours! The place is superb and her work is monumental. I was blown away. What a great memory! I'm really looking forward to being able to return to the museum. 

What have been the highlights of your career?

In 2012, I was invited to take up an artist residency in Marcoing, a rural area in Northern France.  My task was to work with schools, organise exhibitions, meet with associations and create an artistic project locally. I was welcomed by a wonderful team and, together, we created a travelling studio in a caravan. We took it to more than 30 school classes to introduce the pupils to art and screen printing. The atmosphere was extraordinary and the final exhibition, staged in a farm, brought together some 900 children. It was amazing.

Traveling caravan project as part of Adeline's artist in residency

Best piece of advice you've ever been given and by whom?

Before I started studying, my grandparents said to me: "if you want to make art, give the best of yourself, always".

How would you describe the life of an artist in fewer than 5 words?

Authenticity, tons of it!

Traveling caravan project as part of Adeline's artist in residency

'Cascade of Leaves' by Adeline Meilliez

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