Featured Artist of the Month: April 2019

laurence4.jpg

Art & Social Media

Have you ever imagined what famous artists from the past might say if they had the social media tools of today? That’s exactly what Artist Laurence de Valmy does in her POST series, in which she combines iconic artworks skillfully appropriated and created in acrylic, with historically accurate yet imagined conversations.

Read our interview below to learn about her work, process & inspirations.

Q: Tell us more about yourself: where did you grow up, study and how/when did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?
I was born in Africa, raised in France and the UK, then married a person from another culture than mine and now live in the US. So I really consider myself as a world citizen. I studied art in private studios and attended art history classes in France and the US. I always loved art and at first did it in parallel with another career. I have been a full-time artist for three years now.

Q: How do you think your upbringing and personal life have affected your work and art?
My mother is very artistic and she took me to lots of exhibitions and museums. She paints so I had all the material at hand and tons of art books. My sisters are also artistic, so my family was definitely key for me. I got interested, and it stuck with me.

Q. Tell us more about the POST series and how you came up with the idea for it?
It’s been a long process and the merging of a few things. First of all, before starting this series I was painting in a photo-realistic style. I often heard the comment that my paintings “looked like photos”, so I thought of playing a game and creating them as Instagram posts!

Secondly, I love art history, but mostly I love to learn about the personal stories of artists; how they were connected with other artists, art dealers, writers, their lovers, and how different artists have influenced one another.

So I merged these thoughts and found a way to combine my skills as a painter and my interest for art history through these Instagram posts from the past. It’s an opportunity to share the stories behind the art and the connections between the people, and it’s fascinating for me to go deeper into the life of the artists.

Q. What was your work like before the POST series and were you always interested in the relationship between art & technology/social media?
So as mentioned I was painting in a realistic/photo-realistic style. It’s when I started to post about my art that I became fascinated by the power of social media. It really enabled me to build a community and connect with other artists. I was spotted on Instagram by some art dealers and collectors, so it’s been a really helpful tool.

Q. How do you choose the artists you feature for the POST series and do you think the series will go on indefinitely — will you ever run out of artists to feature?
I paint about artists that are major and whose work I love! I also found out that the more I know about the artists, the more I appreciate their work. I started the series in 2017, and for now, I still have plenty of ideas to explore but who knows where that will take me ? I keep my eyes open and as Warhol said, “an artist ought to be able to change his style without feeling bad. I think that would be so great, to be able to change styles.”

Q. What do you love most about being an artist, especially your work on this series, and what is the most difficult?
What I love most beyond creating the paintings and learning new things every day is the interaction with my viewers. The best reward is that my work is now in many collections, so it feels great to create something that resonates with other people. The most difficult part is to multi-task between making art, and the business aspects of art.

Q. Who/what inspires you?
Many people inspire me on different subjects. For my art, I have a special fondness for Edouard Manet, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and the many men and women who were so passionate that they sometimes defied the norms in order to make art.

Here is an extract of a letter from Van Gogh that resonated strongly with me: “I think (...) that if I didn’t succeed I still thought that what I had worked on would be continued. Not directly, but one isn’t alone in believing things that are true. And what does one matter as a person then? I feel so strongly that the story of people is like the story of wheat, if one isn’t sown in the earth to germinate there, what does it matter, one is milled in order to become bread.”

Isn’t it beautiful and inspiring ?

***

We are loving that quote and had no idea Van Gogh was so eloquent. Or that Laurence has only been a full-time professional artist for three years — that is also impressive and inspiring!

You can see Laurence’s work in person at Kahn Gallery’s presentation at the Art New York fair, May 2-5th, and at Michele Mariaud Gallery (Lower East Side) for a solo show May 13-31. Also, on May 13th, she will be discussing women in culture as a part of Museum Week and in partnership with Le Petit Journal New York.

And learn more about her on her site here.

Alexandra HarperComment