How does French artist Cyrielle Gulacsy stay focused when painting becomes technical? She listens to physicists

Cyrielle Gulacsy is the ultimate self-taught. Not long after earning her degree in graphic design in Paris in 2016, she decided to devote herself to art instead. But painting was not the only thing she taught herself. Gulaccy’s work is based on the study of physics, light, space and perception. Her selected topics include the ergosphere (the surface that surrounds a black hole) and the chemical composition of a star.

This autumn, the Paris-based artist has experimented with new techniques during a stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the South of France. Ahead of her debut American solo show at the Mignoni Gallery in New York, which opens Jan. 18, we spoke with Gulacsy about where she finds inspiration and why a nap can cure a creative block.

Cyrielle Gulacsy during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Photo: lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

Cyrielle Gulaccy’s set-up during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Photo lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

What are the most indispensable things in your study and why?

Light! While I paint thousands of shades of color, I need the light to be completely neutral. I need natural light as much as possible, but it is not always enough, so the right artificial lighting is very important. As well as my sofa.

Is there a picture you can send of your work in progress?

As you can see, everything is going on in my studio right now.

Cyrielle Gulacsy during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Photo: lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

Cyrielle Gulaccy’s study during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Photo lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

What is the study assignment on your agenda tomorrow that you are most looking forward to?

I am currently in residency at the CAB Foundation in Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Southern France), so I have started many new paintings. Tomorrow I think I will stretch a canvas and start the bottom of a new “Visible Light” painting. But nothing is planned so anything can happen.

What atmosphere do you prefer when you work? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence? Why?

It varies. When I start a new painting, I feel very energetic; I listen to music, mostly jazz. But it can also distract me. Painting is very meditative, but it can also be mechanical, and in that case I need something that keeps my mind focused. Then I listen to conferences or podcasts. I really like listening to physicists like Carlo Rovelli or Roland Lehoucq and the science radio programs from France Culture.

Cyrielle Gulacsys study.  Photo: Cyrielle Gulacsy.

Cyrielle Gulacsys study. Photo: Cyrielle Gulacsy.

Which feature do you admire most in a work of art? Which trait do you despise the most?

I admire a work of art when it stays in my mind for days after seeing it when it makes me want to return to work. It can come from many things, but I do not think it is from a particular characteristic. I imagine that it stems from a general harmony, from the chromatic or structural composition of the work. It’s always a little mysterious. I get moved when I feel that the artist has tried to convey a feeling to us or change our perception of reality.

On the other hand, there is not really anything that makes me despise a painting or a work of art. At worst, I do not feel anything at all.

What snack food could your studio not function without?

I’m so lucky to have a great Lebanese restaurant near my studio, so I always grab something along the way. I’m a big fan of hummus and baba ganoush.

Cyrielle Gulacsy during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Photo: lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

A snapshot of Cyrielle Gulaccy’s stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Photo lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

Who are your favorite artists, curators or other thinkers to follow on social media right now?

I really like the stories of curators like Rui Andersen Rodrigues Diogo (@rui_ard) and Gerry Bonetti (@gerrybonetti) because I often discover really interesting artists there. I also follow a lot of artists, but it’s always frustrating to see someone’s work on a screen. At the moment I am really into sculpting as I myself am starting to sculpt. I really like the work of Douglas Rieger (@riegerdouglas) and Ian Collings (@ian_collings).

When you feel stuck in the studio, what do you do to get loose?

When I get stuck on a work of art, I start a new one, or I switch to another that is already in progress, or I take a nap with a spoon in hand.

Visible Light Series / D007 (2021).  Photo: Cyrielle Gulacsy.

Cyrielle Gulacsy, Visible light Series / D007 (2021). Photo: Cyrielle Gulacsy.

What is the last exhibit you saw (virtual or otherwise) that impressed you?

I’ve been working a lot the last few months, so I have not seen many exhibitions. One that stood out to me recently, however, was “Women and Abstraction” at the Pompidou Center in Paris. I discovered a lot of artists like Gunta Stölzl and Lenore Tawney. It’s also always exciting for me to see the work of Ruth Asawa, Agnes Martin and Barbara Hepworth, who are among my favorite artists.

Cyrielle Gulacsy during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  Photo: lent by the CAB foundation and the artist.

Cyrielle Gulacsy during her stay at the CAB Foundation Saint-Paul-de-Vence. Photo lent by the CAB Foundation and the artist.

If you were to put together a mood board, what would it say right now?

Since I just started a new work on the theme of space-time, it would probably be images from visualization systems developed by scientists like Calabi-Yau, but also images of the cosmic microwave background, Maxwell’s electromagnetic diagrams, and LHC collision diagrams.

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