My friends tell me, and they’re probably right, that I have a talent for techniques. I love learning new ones, playing with materials and tools. It’s fun to get your hands dirty, like a kid who never gets in trouble. I see my work as a constant research and improvement. I am always digging deeper to unearth secrets within the materials, I play with oils and acrylics, but also collage, printmaking, stained glass, digital painting, beeswax, encaustic.
I started as a traditional printmaker 20 years ago, working on copper or zinc. I loved to experiment with layers, textures, colors. As a painter I do the same, my paintings always start with multiple layers of paper of all sorts; newspaper, wrapping paper, silk paper, pattern paper etc. In between layers, I print with, or leave in, all types of materials recycled and found, like plastics, fibers, or metals. I like to leave on the canvas a lot of different textures. When the texturing is over but still wet I add the background colors by layering them. I spray, drop, imprint, paint the colors on top of each other, going from opaque to transparent. While the work is drying, the colors find their place and settle in. Colors and textures embrace each other and make one. This first part of the work, completely abstract, is very liberating, like a moving meditation. When it’s dried, I start working on the figurative part of the work. In order to do that I use one of my favorite stories, Alice in Wonderland, and the main character’s schizophrenia to depict a little satire of the world I live in.
Starting a new painting is always a very exciting moment for me, it means that the image in my mind is finally ready to go on the canvas. Anything around me can trigger the idea of a new painting, an anecdote, a family routine, a discussion with friends, or a joke. But this idea can stay in the back of my mind like a cloud of flickering light bulbs for days, weeks or even months before I can transform it into a paintable image. I need to give it time to mature. I arrange and rearrange the details multiple times before finding the right balance that will convey my idea in a crisp and detailed manner. Each painting is fun, like a game, a puzzle, a surprise. I like to mix and match souvenirs and everyday life routines and try to get people to pause and reflect upon their life.
I think of my paintings as story-painting inspired by history. I try to gather all the clues needed to tell my story and then I try to simplify, to go to the essential, to say an entire story in one image. It’s not an easy task as I need to engage the spectator right away and keep his attention long enough for him to decrypt the image. That’s how I came to use Alice as a thread. After her adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass, once again, she’s the main character of the story, this time in the Silicon Valley. She’s easily recognizable, and people relate to her, they know her and her adventures. Alice can be blond, brunette, red-haired, young or old, white or black, as long as she wears a blue dress and ends up in schizophrenic situations, she will be recognizable.
I was Alice once as a kid for Halloween. I still have a picture of myself that my mom took while I was doing my homework before going to the party. Growing up, I used to go to my grandparents’ house for the holidays, next door was my great-great-grandfather’s antique store. I would sneak in the store, without the adults knowing, through a small secret back door hidden in my grand dad’s garage. They didn’t know I knew about that small door. Inside the store were amazing treasures: antiques, crystal chandeliers, jewelry, and furniture, but best of all were the beautiful stained glass and wrought iron doors of the store. Since I wasn’t supposed to be in the store, the only source of light was the outside light. As it passed through the stained glass, it illuminated and colored the antiques. It was magical. We’re all Alice, as kids, we all went through a small door to discover a magical world, one way or another. It was an antique store for me, but it could have been an old barn, the attic at a friend’s house or, like in the Spielberg movie The Goonies, a pirate ship in a cave. These adventures are part of growing up, becoming adults.
My Alice series is probably a way for me to cope with a somehow strange or terrifying reality, to try to make sense of things. Between artificial grass, nuclear threats, earthquakes, and real estate bubbles, we live in a world of information and disinformation, hyper-consumerism and cyberbullying. After WWII we said never again, but we’re our worst enemy. After destroying the fauna and the flora, we cannot stay idle. Women’s rights still need to be protected, black lives matter, and global warming is a reality. My Alice is no Wonder Woman, she doesn’t have any super power. Like you and me she tries her best in a very unsettling world.