Paris-based artist Cyril Galmiche is in the midst of a pretty niche, yet beautifully expansive project: it aims to “push the circular shape to its ultimate limits.”
Galmiche works across photography, film and other media, but the side of his practice devoted to drawing is dubbed I-I-I-I-I-I. The title is a tribute to minimal music that repeats the same motif. “With this title, there is an ambiguity between graphic forms made of verticals and horizontals and letters that are read, are pronounced (i dash i dash i dash i dash i dash i) and thus become a kind of musical bassline,” he explains.
His new zine/book brings together exactly 111 drawings from the I-I-I-I-I-I series, and is edited by Lendroit éditions, and printed by Les presses du réel. Limited to 300 copies, this is 228 pages devoted entirely to various drawings of, yup, circles.
The I-I-I-I-I-I project started almost 10 years ago, around the time the artist found himself working on a fair few videos that were pretty time consuming. “After finishing one, I would feel a little depressed,” he says. “I think I went back to drawing because unconsciously I wanted a continuous project, which would reconnect me with the pleasure of doing things by hand.”
But how many circles will he draw? The project could be endless… “I haven’t set a limit on the number of drawings for this series, I’m pushing it to the limit and it will stop when I run out of inspiration,” he says. “You could compare it to wanting to create constellations to form a kind of universe. But that’s like trying to identify the planets in the universe, right now it seems like an endless task.”
The fascination with circles is largely a “formal” one, says Galmiche. “It allows work on symmetry, reversal, optics, pattern, repetition, vibration, etc. I started by doing a drawing without giving too much thought to the purpose of the series and eventually I got caught up in it and the project just happened on its own.”
For the new zine, the artist used the typeface Trebuchet, a humanist sans-serif typeface that Vincent Connare designed for the Microsoft Corporation in 1996. This was for two reasons: one was because of the “quality of these glyphs,” and the other was simply because of its legibility.
Each circle takes the artist anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days to draw. He always works with the same Rotring pen and black India ink. (“The idea is to keep the same constants: a shape, a format, a pen, a colour,” he says). Each image begins as most projects do—with a simple sketch—and Galmiche found that over time, several “families” began appearing in the series, arranged by similarities in their points, lines and curves.
Galmiche then printed his drawings and arranged them according to these “families”; going on to “find the missing parts of families or children that would be the product of two families or other families,” he explains. “After that, I polished the matrix (I don’t know the English term) on the computer and then I used it to do the basic drawing, still with the same pen.” These images were then scanned and refined, deliberately leaving in certain imperfections. Finally, the images were printed by a screen printer “so that each print has its own vibration, produced by the manual side of this printing technique.”
Outside of his circles, Galmiche is currently working on two very different projects: one is a design for a record cover, and the other is a video for architects, showing the construction of a building. As ever, he isn’t limited by discipline, instead considering art and artistic work to be a “universe” as opposed to discrete entities.Galmiche studied fine art at the School of Decorative Arts of Strasbourg, France. In 2015, the artist had a solo show devoted to his work at Trajectory, AM Art Space in Shanghai; and he’s shown in both solo and group shows across France, the UK, Switzerland and Belgium.