Rigidly academic and intimately artistic: the explorative practice of Rudy Guedj
With a greater sense of vulnerability to his creative mindset, Rudy switches between the roles of writer, designer and editor in his prominent publishing practice.
- Harry Bennett
- 28 October 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Since we last spoke to Rudy Guedj the French designer has been taking the time to reflect on his practice, and re-evaulate what he wants to produce, since being accepted on a new post graduate residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. Broadening his range of work, Rudy has been working across record sleeve design, identities, exhibitions, books and even two door handles for Belgian artspace Kunsthal Ghen. All the while “teaching a bit here and there, watching loads of shows and cooking a bunch,” the self proclaimed HBO addict remarks.
Amongst a plethora of other work, Rudy has released three books this year (Dear Clay, Bottle Joe and No thanks, I’m just looking) under his new imprint Building Fictions, a development of his practice that sees him switching roles between that of “the publisher, designer, sometimes editor or author depending on the projects.” Giving Rudy the chance to frame the versatility of his design practice, Rudy explains that “I am curious to explore the way text could possibly open up new ways to read my work, as well as open up new directions for myself,” adding “I have been working very visually so far, I think that I am trying to explore if I can do that and tie things together through the use of language now.” Although not drastically visually or conceptually different from since we last spoke to Rudy, his work has become all the more personal; a more intimate insight into his mindset and narrative storytelling.
In describing Rudy’s creative process, it is hard to provide a succinct summary considering his exploration of the medium, methodology and mindset. From his multifaceted approach, Rudy’s process reflects the work itself, telling us: “I like to add layers upon layers, both in the works themselves and in the roles I can take,” as well as “the mediums I can explore.” Binding together these numerous outcomes is an element of perspective, changing the objective or subjective value of images. “I have been creating images that constantly zoomed in and out of their own construction logic,” Rudy explains, “between what it can be perceived, as in its most simple and superficial layer, and what story might be deeper embedded in it.” This academic and ultimately considerate approach to each project is what makes each of Rudy’s so successful and engaging.
The fourth book this year from Rudy is titled No thanks, I’m just looking, a publication that blurs the lines between exhibition catalogue and artist book. The piece is a collaborative endeavour documenting the recent series of ephemeral work by Lisa Sudhibhasilp, photographed by Johannes Schwartz, containing illustration by Rudy surrounding Lisa’s writing. The designer also recently worked alongside architect Olivier Goethals on both the identity and scenography for I See That I See What You Don’t See, an exhibition in the Dutch pavilion at the Design Triennale in Milan in 2019. An example of Rudy's signature layered style, the design explores the “multidimensional image of the relationship that humans, animals and landscapes maintain with darkness,” in a brooding aesthetic which is equal parts striking and conceptual. “Working together, the architecture and the projected graphic layer created both a support and a response to the main theme of the show by controlling the light condition and using it as a narrative element,” Rudy recalls. With a fractured, sporadic landscape inspired by the model of a panorama, the scene was constructed of “cosmic, automated, and seemingly invisible spaces” that took the form “of a cylindrical dark chamber thanks to a 6-channels animated projection.”
Starting out as a “poetic translation” of Rudy’s visual identity for the exhibition, he is currently writing a new book. Within the context of the exhibition’s content, and considering “the Sun, our relation to it” and the “perception of it in time,” Rudy is investigating “the dot, the hole and the mole” – a series of topics that takes into account, amongst other things, the moles on our skin, the moles underground, the photographic lens, the back hole and even the eyeball. “The text is written with two voices or tones,” he adds, “one trying to be more objective and scientific than the other which tends to belong to the realm of fiction.” It’s an approach that is emblematic of his current practice, the concern and voicing of the rigidly academic and structured, as well as the individual and artistic.
Now conducting a balancing act between commissioned work and self initiated projects, Rudy has settled more on the publishing arm of his practice, citing the collaborative aspect, as well as the confrontation of your “own choices and decisions”, as the source of his creative satisfaction.
Rudy Guedj: I See That I See What You Don’t See (Copyright © Rudy Guedj, 2019)
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. He nows works as a freelance writer and designer, and is one half of Studio Ground Floor.