I have always been interested in different techniques and different materials. This is not limited to drawings, this is, in fact, not limited to anything.
Martin Tardy is an Austrian-French artist whose distinctive artistic style is characterized by figurative works that are drawn largely with the use of one single line.
Already at a very young age, Tardy picked up a pencil and started to draw. This visual language has remained his preferred means of expression throughout his life, and today, artistic creation has become not only his language of choice, but his passion.
Tardy's recognizable style originated in a quick sketching technique in which the artist stretches the capabilities of a single line, not stopping until a single piece has been completed. Sometimes, he even draws asynchronously, with both hands, to create one single image consisting of two lines that continually intersect and together form a bigger picture.
These techniques have since become a form of artistic expression in themselves and now extend beyond traditional surfaces. His works feature on materials such as glass, stone, PVC, mirrors, and recently he has even ventured into sculpture. We interviewed the artist to learn more about his artistic process and his countless experiments.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. Did you always want to be an artist?
A. Actually, I did not want to be an artist until I did my first exhibition in October of 2017.
I always loved to draw, it was my biggest passion, but somehow I just didn’t want to do it for a living. I wanted it to be my personal thing. But in 2017, I was in the process of renovating a flat pretty much by myself, which was taking way too long (nearly 6 months) and I didn’t have any time to draw. To be forced to stop drawing for such a long time made me very unhappy. So as soon as there was a table in the apartment, I had this huge urge to re-start drawing and the drawings I made had become better somehow, or at least different, because of this 6-month break. This motivated me to draw more than ever and to showcase my work on social media. It started quite small, but still, I had over 300 followers within the first days and these weren’t friends of mine. The feedback I got was really kind, which gave me the confidence to show my stuff to other people, to my family and close friends.
Since this first exhibition, it has become clear to me that I was always meant to live my life as an artist and nothing else.
Q. Was there a pivotal moment in your artistic career?
I would say exactly this moment in 2017. This was really the moment that I had an inner voice telling me that I could or should show my work to people
somehow. This was an especially important time - without this, I wouldn’t have
done that first exhibition.
Q. How did you arrive at your technique of asynchronous line drawings?
A. This technique was developed in the Summer of 2017. It was actually just one of a 100.000 experiments that I do while drawing, because I always want to keep on developing my skills. All my life, I have tried to learn to draw the correct way by investigating proportions, perspective, light, shadow… I tried all different kinds of drawing techniques with different kinds of materials: pen, pencils, etc. This was another one of those many experiments; if you look at my Instagram for example, you will see that I also have a technique called ‘the Chopstick Technique’. For this, I draw with two pens in one hand. I also often draw with closed eyes.
The synchronous technique is one of these techniques. Luckily, I filmed my first attempt – if I wouldn’t have, maybe I would not have chosen to continue with it. For me, it was just as fascinating to see this video because when I am in the process of drawing I do not get to see things from this angle or perspective. It showed me that my hands just do whatever they want to when I switch off the rational part of my brain and let the intuitive part do the work. This technique was particularly interesting because the resulting drawings look so different from my other drawings, at least in my eyes. It’s interesting to see that you can do something new without exercising a lot of forced control.
See the artist in action:
Q. Could you describe your creative process?
A. It depends.. the last years were completely filled with different projects, like renovating a studio and a flat, so I really have to block the time I need for art. If I’m working towards an exhibition, this comes with a long process of developing concepts. I think of what I want to present, which piece goes next to which.. I somehow curate the pieces in my head and then create them, in that moment, specifically for the exhibition.
smaller sized drawings, on the other hand, are mostly done when I feel inspired and want to try something
new or put something down that has been on my mind. I go about these pieces in
a very experimental way; this experimentation with different techniques is a reason for me to just start
sculptures, then again, is a very lengthy process. For these, I start
with a main idea and then I work with clay over a period of weeks and weeks
until I achieve the final result that I had in mind. So
one could say that I have very different processes depending on the project: I have the one-minute-drawings,
the weeks-long process of sculpting and I have ideas for projects and exhibitions
that develop, grow and distill over time. I keep notes, that I go back to from
time to time to try to improve my ideas or to add some new ideas onto a
project and then continue from there. My brain is never switched off when it
comes to art and art projects - I always think about it.
Q. Your pieces do not stay limited to a flat surface – how did you come to expand your work to the three-dimensional?
A. I have always been interested in different techniques and different materials. This is not limited to drawings, this is, in fact, not limited to anything. I continue to look at artisans, to look at technology, and I just really love what is all possible nowadays. You can work in 3d, you can work digitally, you can work with clay, you can make classical drawings or paintings, but you also have the possibility to work with other people. If I have an idea that is supposed to be executed in wood, for example, I could talk to a professional, show them the concept, and create the piece together. The same goes for glass, metal, or plastic. Everything is possible these days and therefore I don’t want to limit myself to anything. These continuous lines are my focus at the moment, but I don’t want to limit myself to those either.
Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
A. Honestly, I'd like to leave that up to the viewer. My work is figurative, but there are some pieces that are not clearly a man or a woman. For these particular pieces, I try to not focus on the gender in the titles, so that people can see whatever they want to see. It’s a body, clearly, but it’s interesting to me that some people will see a beautiful woman and others a beautiful man, perhaps some will even recognize someone they know.
I talk to people it becomes clear that they latch onto the lines that they can
relate to. There are so many lines in my drawings and a lot of viewers see
different things in those little details, not in the total. When I do a face, for
example, most of the time, people will recognize it’s a face, or when I do a
body, they will see it’s a body. But some people see a slim body, others see a
very structured body – this is what interests me. Even though my work is not abstract,
people still have the room to project their own imagination and interpretation.
Q. What other creatives, books, music, or movies inspire you?
A. I am very dyslexic, so books are unfortunately not inspiring to me. Music is something I really loved as a teenager; I was really obsessed with music, there was not a moment that I was not listening to music. But this is not part of my current inspiration, neither are other creatives.
When I walk around, when I see things, whether it’s nature or industry or something that has been scratched on a wall - anything can inspire me and bring up a new idea, a color combination or a combination of materials.
Q. What would you still like to achieve as an artist?
A. First and foremost, I want to be able to practice art all my life and have it as my main goal and focus.
I have been playing with the idea that, if I cannot achieve everything in my
life that I want to do, there will be a book - a sketchbook, in which I will advise
other people on how to create or complete the exhibitions I was not able to
finish. Because I already have so many exhibitions prepared in my head and
in my sketchbooks, it might be hard to create them all.