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Conversation with the artist at the Beaux-Arts of Paris
Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

At Louise's Studio

At Louise's Studio

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MLC - Louise, you are in your fifth and final year of studies at the Beaux-Arts de Paris in James Rielly's studio, you will be graduating at the end of the year and are currently preparing your first personal exhibition at the gallery, which will open in March. I would like to start by talking about your canvas entitled "Cycles" from 2022, it seems to represent your formula, or in any case, your way of working and understanding your subject. We see several photos, your computer, paint brushes, a back frame. Can you explain how you proceed? 


LS - It is true that it is representative of my way of working : in my practice I collect images, often personal, but also from popular or scholarly culture, I reassemble them and create other pictures. Finally, the painting that we see on the left in the painting is the sum of all the images that represent my grandmother.


MLC - To look at your works on paper or on canvas is to enter into the intimacy of your family sphere because it is your loved ones that you represent. What attracts you to this domestic world? You regularly represent your younger brother as well as your grandparents, why this interest in childhood and old age in particular?


LJ - You see the same people appear on my canvases because my practice of painting stems from my practice of drawing with which I have become accustomed to working directly on the motif, so these are the people I see the most. I also like the idea that we find from one canvas to another the same characters who then become archetypes rather than real portraits. This choice to represent more my siblings or my grandparents is not conscious, but each represent something of an age of life, an archetype of childhood or old age.


MLC - You often paint and draw "non-events", that is to say people sleeping, watching TV, doing nothing: moments of idleness, of day-to-day life – why do you choose to represent, to immortalize these moments when, so to speak, not much is happening? What interests you in the routine, in the everyday life?


LJ - It is the condition of the painter to be attentive to almost nothing. In the slowness, in the solitude of the work, we relive this moment of eternity of the present and of absence of event. Painting is the medium par excellence for representing this kind of moments because it is a medium that takes time. 


MLC - During my last studio visit, you also spoke to me about the notion of “hero of the banal”, is this a way for you to give back its nobility to a routine often perceived in a pejorative way?


LJ - I have the impression that giving substance to time and memory is a way of giving meaning to existence, of preserving from oblivion the moments that we live and forget. . 



MLC - As we have seen, you represent routine, everyday life, your work takes the form of a diary, your drawings are even situated in time (“November…”, “December…” etc. .), we can read them chronologically and follow what happened this fall for you. I also know that you keep a diary (written this time) - what do you think painting adds, compared to writing?


LJ - In the diary, a form taken by the diaries that I write but also my drawings, there is more of a notion of veracity and the rhythm is quite different because the diary is something that is more or less day by day. My paintings, on the other hand, are a reconstruction of memory, the same way memories work. With painting, I try to highlight some things and obscure others. 


MLC - Your characters tend to disappear in your paintings in favour of the objects that surround them (your large format, but also "Self-portrait with L. Freud", for example) - it emanates from your work an almost animist vision of the objects - what is the sense of the setting in which you place your characters? What do you use it for?


LJ - On the one hand, the sets are a way of portraying someone because they reflect intimacy. In an interior, one finds traces of memory, of past events, of habits, of people's tastes. But it is also a pretext to paint. I love to look, in Vermeer for example, the greed with which he paints details that interfere with the central subject of the painting. I like all these textures, shapes, colours. 


MLC - You have just mentioned Vermeer and you have just submitted a thesis on Hockney, we also find in your paintings a monograph by Matisse - what do you like about these painters? Do you have any other references?


With Hockney, it's the way he builds his work like a diary, it's his work on memory, on the relationship to the world and the place that the viewer has with the world. Whereas with Vermeer it's more formal : the framing and the subject. He has a very beautiful way of representing everyday life, silence, mystery. And as for other painters, right now I'm looking at early paintings by Peter Blake, the work of more contemporary artists like Mathieu Cherkit, I've also recently discovered the work of an Indian painter Mahesh Baliga. And I'm  also influenced by other mediums such as cinema and especially comics, I love Chris Ware, for example. 


MLC - Precisely cinema, comics or literature are arts that preserve what happens before on the film or the previous vignette – is this a problem that you are trying to solve in painting?


LJ - Especially with comics, what interests me is the double reading system: first we see the page as a whole and then there is a second reading from box to box. Each image then shows both its past, its present, and its future, which gives it a temporal thickness. This is something that I would like to be able to find in my paintings thanks to this abundance of details: to have a painting that can be read both as a whole and in detail. 


MLC - Hence the multitude of paintings in the painting! 


LJ - Yes! Because all these shots create images that are both successive and synchronous. There are several temporalities. 


MLC - Finally, “Present Tense” is the title you chose for this exhibition: can you tell us what it evokes for you?


LJ - I like titles that refer to other works. It's the name of a song by Radiohead, a band that I really like and that I listened to while preparing this exhibition. This song seems appropriate to me because it talks about the flight of time and the anguish it causes. 


MLC - Because recording all these moments that happen in your life is a way of keeping them forever and you do it on a lot of different media, you write, you paint, you draw - it's an  accumulations of passing time. 


LJ - In my opinion, this is what gives substance to memory and to the immediacy of the present. 

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