LAURENCE de VALMY
I’ve been working for the past 8 months (more like a year if you include the gestation!) on a new series of paintings, that I entitled POST. The series is based on the work and life of major artists and each artwork is presented as an anachronic Instagram post, combining an original painting and some imagined dialogues between the artist and his connections.
This series is quite different from my other work, which is Contemporary Realism. The POST series can probably be labeled as Pop Art or Appropriation Art, some have even qualified it of Conceptual Art... Whatever the labels are, I guess the common point between my different works is that I want to share and connect with my viewers. I’m fascinated by the fact that cavemen would create art, and I believe that communication is a basic need; all humans want to share thoughts and feelings. Some will do so through singing, discussing, writing or posting photos on Instagram… For me it’s through painting.
So how did I come up with the painted Instagram from the past? Well it’s been a long process and the merging of a few thoughts. The first one was the realization that Instagram could become a medium for art instead of being only a media. Take a look at some profiles of bloggers, visual artists and see to what extent these profiles are art in themselves. Since I often heard the comment that my paintings “looked like photos”, I thought well I should play the game and create them as Instagram posts!
The second thought was that artists do what they do, because of who they are of course, but also thanks to their connections. I love to read about 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 etc. Warhol painted a can of soup because Lichtenstein “stole” the subject of comics, because Muriel Latow suggested he do so and because Duchamp created his Fountain in 1917. Velasquez, but also Braque and Matisse and African sculptors influenced Picasso and participated in making him who he was. In a nutshell, art history is a continuum.
All these stories renew my interest in these artworks that I’ve seen so many times. I thought that some others could be interested in these stories too. So I merged these thoughts and created these Instagram posts from the past, as an opportunity to share the stories behind the art and the connections between the people. When the idea was clearer, I checked that nobody had done the same thing before and to my knowledge it’s not the case. Because yes, I wanted to create something new, a concept that was my own.
To create my paintings, I do quite a bit of research. I read biographies and search on the net (thank you Google!) to get the information I need. I want the dates to be accurate, the portrait of the artist in line with the timing in his life and the dialogues to be as close to the truth as possible. Sometimes it’s fairly easy, sometimes it’s a bit harder because I look for specific information. That was the case for the POST on Robert Indiana and his LOVE. I found the right quote in an interview of Bill Katz, his former assistant, in the note at the end of the book Beyond LOVE. I want my POSTS to be positive so I focus on some compelling moments, a major artwork, or a happy moment for him. By telling the story behind it, I want to add a new perspective to the artwork.
This project is probably the most personal project I’ve ever worked on. It combines my interest in art history and painting. It’s also thanks to this series that I’ve been awarded an Artist Residency at the ESKFF in Mana Contemporary and that I’ve met the curators and galleries who now represent my work. I want to thank my husband and my friends, the artists Allan Gorman and Mary Beth McAllister, who were the first to see it and who encouraged me to develop it. When I first showed the paintings for Mana Open House, it was great to see people smile when they read the texts and started talking about the content. I enjoyed the interaction.
My goal is to keep on creating more of the POST series. Art history is a wide subject and I have more ideas than I will probably have time to paint! I have a project to create a series with a focus on women artists. I’d love to show the POSTS in a solo show. It would be so much fun to have all these major artworks together. A little like the museum of my dreams!