Vanessa Cao manipulates several materials. She observes them first, questions them next. The strong consideration she gives to matter is a declaration of faith, the very essence of the process she develops creatively. Whether she sculpts or cuts it, fastens it to a support or releases it from it, secures it or adds movement, the artist uses it and dares to hijack it. Vanessa Cao literally “experiences” matter, whether it originates in Nature (forests and sea sides are key locations on her quest) or has been transformed by man (remote tribes and ancestral crafts are sometimes important sources of inspiration). Seashell, coral, stone, leaf, branch, feather, paper, leather, silk,… those are some of the materials this atypical artist invests her eye and hand in. Whatever the medium, each creation is anchored in the same universe, one the artist has sensibly built over time and nourished with her thoughts and introspections. A universe that is entirely coherent, inhabited by organic forms, bathed in poetry, tinged with sobriety and enhanced by timelessness. A world that she unfolded in a mostly intuitive way, that she architected with a “wild mastery” to use her own expression. That is indeed one of the keys to understand Vanessa Cao’s work: the alliance of two antagonistic qualities. One the one hand, there is control that could be even called virtuosity as in the case of her precise haute couture creations or her armors made of origami paper. On the other hand, there is instinct as displayed in some of her photography and installations based on naturally projected light and shadow effects.