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Diane de Cicco Works Biography



Born in Paris in 1952, of an American father and a French mother, I initially chose to pursue a scientific career, studying biochemistry and immunology at the University of London. But I often felt a stranger to the scientific world. After my Ph.D., I left for the States and went to Baltimore. Somehow, the uneasiness was still there, increasingly pressing. The storm broke out in Baltimore, at last. It was there that my doubts became certainty, I needed to create… Goodbye science. I began working as a waitress in a local restaurant. I nourished myself on everything I could lay my hands on: music, dance, photography, drawing and painting at the Baltimore School of Fine Arts and at the International Center of Photography in New York. It was pure bliss. And very difficult too. I needed to rebuild everything. There were times when I felt so discouraged, and dizzily hesitant. Yet, I felt with all my heart that great truths cannot be measured, cannot be governed by scientific truths. I was (am) looking for a poetical truth that lies in the imponderable, the unutterable.
I left for Ethiopia, then for Mexico. I found those countries both wonderful and disturbing. Mexico especially was later to become a great source of inspiration… I returned to New York. I studied theatre with Stella Adler, the great lady of American theatre. It was an extraordinary experience. Then, I returned to France looking for roots I was never really going to find. I am from here and over there, from nowhere and elsewhere. It is unstabling and that’s good. Taking another road to break the habit gives you a new lease of life… I registered at the Ateliers de la Ville de Paris art school on the rue de la Glacière. That was the turning point. From the very first days at Glacière, the idea of pursuing another goal than painting just seemed against nature…

For me, painting is a kind of brain-storming that allows things to emerge of their own accord. It is about making meaning proliferate, making it germinate and flourish until self-evidence flows and takes over. What is interesting to me is to unveil an unreasoned meaning that arises from my life’s experiences, from my voluntariness, my doubts… and my involuntariness.


Then there is memory and emotion, which slowly emanate from the crucible of my inspiration that is essentially based on visual sensations and music… I get inspired by a color chord gleaned on a street corner, from a wall charged with history, from the profound emotion I feel when listening to a quartet… They are stepping stones to jump into the unknown.

One day, I felt like loading the top of the canvas, suspending the visual mass above the void of the canvas below. It was an urge, an intuition. I only realized later on that it was the urge to paint the infinite fragility of being, life suspended in time… roots traveling across time… roots tied by chance to a parcel of the universe and ultimately, the great illusion made bare: the absence of any roots.

At times, a tree is born on the canvas. It is not purposefully a tree but it is there because my thoughts are modeled and somehow inhabited by trees.

I always get back to nature one way or another. I feel a thirst, a form of nostalgia for this world that I need desperately and that is gradually being pushed out of modern life. It is both a form of escape from and the only remedy against ugliness, violence and death. I paint the landscapes that live on inside me and that no one can ever disfigure.

At some point, I started working with panels, in the form of diptychs, triptychs, etc. At first, it was just an influence from the history of painting. But over time, these panels have become doors, facets, possibilities… And by moving the panels around when I work, I shake up my preconceptions.

What I like in abstract painting, as in music, is that neither needs to tell anything, or represent anything or take refuge in reason. And yet all is said. I love the mystery of painting and the modesty of mystery. What is truly wonderful is to bring to life a universe from nothing virtually, just a little paint… and give a part of oneself that will find resonance in someone else… It is a form of resistance to the material world.


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