Manuela Paul-Cavallier, creator of "gold materials"

After X. Noël and J.J Argueyrolles, here is an article on another innovator in leaf gilding: Manuela Paul-Cavallier.


She defines herself, not as a gilder, but as a "creator of gold materials", craftsman and artist at the same time, whose know-how is none other than the subtle combination of craftsmanship, art and gold leaf.

Classically trained, M. Paul-Cavallier came from the University of Art History in Florence, then went to a decoration school in Tuscany, where she graduated in gilding on wood.

After 25 years in restoration, she turned to contemporary decoration (as evidenced by her recent work at the Intercontinental Hotel of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu in Lyon) as well as personal creation. This unique journey will also lead her to be Laureate of the Villa Kujoyama in 2014 in Japan, where she was introduced to the gesture by masters of refinement.

These different facets of the profession feed off each other: the various collaborations (e.g. the Petit Théâtre de Lumière) and commissioned works (e.g. the bottles of the Opium perfume by Yves Saint-Laurent) initiate technical research and a know-how which, in return, is a breeding ground for artistic creations. The borders are porous and the bridges are there.


"I like the impression, the emotion of balances, of movement, the sensations created by shadows, the sometimes unfathomable depth of black, only broken by gold leaf or a contrast of matt and shine. The light stands out from the darkness. The balance of shadow and light, their complementarities or their oppositions, these movements that the material receives and restores to those who gaze through it. Even the seemingly static figures imprint the movement of their relationship in space. "


Manuela Paul-Cavallier took the time to dissect the gilding to keep only its essence, the fundamental bases: the alchemy of techniques, hand gestures, light, space and the relationship to materials.

She tends to follow the same paths as Pierre Soulages and Françoise Verdier. Mr. Paul-Cavallier wants to work with gold in a contemporary way: relief, cracks, rugged supports have his predilection (a legacy of his past in restoration?). Taste that can also be found in his graphic choices: the arabesques and calligraphy whose traces are reminiscent of cracks / rings / bark of wood, even some leathers.

The possibilities offered by all golds (yellow, white, moongold) are not forgotten, as are the infinite subtleties they allow, once the burnishing and patina techniques have been mastered: ostentatious gold, poetic gold, delicate gold. .

Finally, all materials are explored: paper, old wood, glass, bamboo, canvas, leather, stone, straw (collaboration with Lison De Caunes), while maintaining this unique style characterized by games of materials, an alliance of pigments (black ) and gold leaves, and matt / shine textures ... its famous gold reflections.