Pierre Charpin’s new monograph encompasses 17 years of drawings

French designer, visual artist and scenographer Pierre Charpin has released a new monograph titled Avec le dessin, which charts the development of his drawing practice between the years 2005 and 2022. Published by Éditions B42, the book is the designer’s first in eight years and takes a deep dive into his expansive oeuvre, exploring the many styles and approaches that he takes when drawing.

Writing in the book’s introduction, Charpin details his earliest recollection of the medium: “Though my childhood memories are now vague and distant, I am confident enough to say that I have always drawn. Like any child, I drew. Drawing comes before writing. A sort of original gesture, a primitive impulse, an imperative need to project tangible figures of one’s own experience and presence in the world outside oneself, for oneself, and for others.”

Growing up within a family of creatives, including his father who is an engraver, lithographer, and sculptor; his mother who is a weaver; and his brother who went on to become an architect, Charpin was surprisingly slow to assert passion for any particular field – including even that of drawing.

He writes that it was only many years later, after entering the world of furniture and object design, that he would “take charge of his destiny”. Alongside his newfound desire for design, he came to realise that drawing was a practice within itself – something he had never been told or shown, even during his studies at École des Beaux Arts in the 80s.

In the years since, Charpin has honed a particularly versatile approach to drawing, never settling into one style and constantly playing with form, colour and composition. In Avec le dessin, this adaptability is clear, with the works exhibiting myriad techniques – so much so that it is hard to believe they all originate from the same hand. Charpin says this is a result of a specific mindset, which is never precious about the drawings that have come before.

He explains: “I move forward through small or large ruptures rather than by repeating the same drawing that would transform itself slowly over time. This is undoubtedly what explains, in addition to the various techniques and tools I use (colour pencils, graphite, pen, felt-tip, pen, grease chalk, dry chalk, Indian ink, coloured ink), a certain variety in my production – even if one can identify the recurring characteristics within this variety: repetition of line drawings, loops, ribbons or arabesques, black drawings, colored drawings, series drawings, vectors, elementary forms….”

Interestingly, much like his relationship to drawing as a child, Charpin maintains a decidedly unacademic perspective on the medium. Simply and refreshingly, his zest for drawing outweighs any theoretical or practical considerations: “I have never seen and evaluated drawing in relation to the aptitude and the competence required for its execution. For me, the driving energy and impulse to make oneself available to the drawing and bring it to life produce its accuracy. It is an act of life that unfolds by itself and for itself without predefined, programmatic, and economic objectives.”

Avec le dessin is published by Éditions B42; editions-b42.com