WOMEN OF NOTE:
Charlyn Reyes | Artist
There is an effortless fluidity about the work of Montreal-based artist Charlyn Reyes. Informed by her background in design, line and form move in unexpected ways, leading the eye through a series of vacant wells and organic curves set in clay. Made by hand with materials from the land, Reyes sculptures are products of her divine intuition. When she sits down to create, she invites in the unknown, without hesitation. Ideas are encouraged to roam freely, conjuring however they may; unrestrained by the imposition of set criteria or expectation. Herein lies the beauty of Reyes’ artistic spirit. Wearing her Deiji Studios 01 set, she tells us more about her creative process and where you might find her outside of the studio (dancing in her kitchen).
Location: Montreal, Canada
Date: 07/03/21 Time:9.00am
Where are you from and where are you now?
I am from Toronto, Canada. I moved to Montreal a few years ago, but I travel back home whenever possible.
Can you describe where it is that you live and the view from where you’re sitting right now?
I live in a sweet 19th century apartment with the St. Lawrence River nearby. I see neighbours, old trees, the sun’s reflection.
Are you a morning or evening person?
I rise early and revel in slow, quiet mornings before heading to the studio. I need to sit and think before I move—and I don’t stop moving until the end of the day. Evenings are for feeling.
You’re an artist and designer, when did you know you wanted to pursue your creativity through these expressions?
I have always been drawn to express through some form of visual language. I would spend hours alone in my room as a child creating. I studied a diverse range of the arts throughout my education.
Later on, design was a way to translate my interest in creating composition into something useful. Although I earned a degree in design, I often felt a desire to express more organically, outside of a restrictive grid and screen. Still, I feel I weave in and out of the two practices naturally. They each inform the other.
What originally drew you to work with clay?
I am drawn to its history, its nature. A couple of years ago I took a brief, open-studio, unstructured ceramics class. I delved in quickly, attempting (and failing repeatedly) to hand-build complex forms from the beginning. The language of clay and its relationship to the earth and the body—my hands as primary tools—spoke to me, and I’ve been in conversation with it ever since. In this practice, you are constantly learning about both the material’s limits and your own. It can be so complex and challenging. And yet, it’s also just simply earth, air, water, fire—and I’m very attracted to that.
There’s a beautiful simplicity to your pieces, how would you describe your creative process?
Ideas can undulate in my mind or sit in my sketchbook for a long time, without taking shape, until one day I may explore it. However, I prefer to allow myself to trust and be guided by intuitive feeling. I am inclined to maintain a sense of openness within my practice—exploring ideas, materials and processes as they flow through me or as my environment allows. When my mind is clear and I improvise a piece, this is the most exciting work. I seek harmony within in order to create with ease, which I think then extends to harmony of form.
Your works have found homes all over the world, perhaps most notably with Simon Porte Jacquemus. What was it like being approached by the designer to have your works featured in his restaurant and office?
I showed some of my first ceramic works at Paris Design Week in 2019. I met Simon there, who acquired those first pieces of mine, and honestly that allowed me to continue and expand. I was humbled to have connected with someone so kind and genuine in fashion. It was a pleasure to see my pieces living in his world, especially “Venus” at the restaurant Oursin.
If you ever go off track while you’re making, how do you resolve a work that’s not going to plan?
If I begin to feel dissatisfied with the direction of a piece, I let go of all intentions, emotionally detach, and let my hands push and pull the clay in a quick and rough manner to drastically alter the form. Then I begin to see it differently. These gestures often bring out something interesting, or at least inspire a later work.
When seeking inspiration, who and what do you turn to?
I look outside of my medium, and outside as in the natural environment. But truly, my magical women inspire me most.
During your down time at home, where do you spend most of your time?
I love chairs. I have seating for different moods in my living room. A wide bench for sketching, a low woven chair for reading, little stools and pillows to sit around the coffee table. I spend the other half of my time in the kitchen cooking, and most often, dancing while cooking.
Do you have any rituals that you never fail to begin and end the day with?
I simply try to begin and end my day with a sense of love and gratitude. And there are many food rituals in between. My filipino mama taught me that these were the pillars of life.
What are you currently reading and listening to?
Reading the MET archives, history of the Philippines, and Mark Strand. Listening to Dahlak Band.
Do you have a favourite recipe that remains a constant in your repertoire? If so, please share it with us here.
I cook intuitively and based on what I have. Although you can’t really count on me to provide a proper recipe, here’s an idea for a simple creamy tomato mushroom zucchini soup:
Make a broth with heaps of mushrooms, fennel, zucchini, garlic, onion, basil, salt, pepper. I fry the veggies in olive oil first. Later on, add crushed tomatoes and some cream. Blend. Simmer. Serve with good bread rubbed with a clove of garlic
How do you stay grounded?
A quiet life. Water. I love to walk, my grandmother calls me a camel.
What do you do to unwind?
A good film. Essential oils.
What do you dream of while you sleep?
Loud, buffet-style dinner parties with my distant extended family, my dearest friends, 5 ft. long sandwiches with really strange ingredient combinations.
Interviewed by Chloe Borich for Deiji Studio’s Field Notes