Walking u home
Amélie Bigard et Lena Long
commissariat de Joséphine Dupuy-Chavanat
24 mai - 17 juin 2023
81 boulevard Beaumarchais 75003 Paris
Interview of the artists by Joséphine Dupuy-Chavanat:
Joséphine Dupuy Chavanat: You are both artists of the pre-adult world, of a community of figures and objects that oscillate between tender intimacy and the dream machine that cultural industries and capitalism create. For decades, adolescence has been forged by consumerism, which has pushed young people to constantly enhance their image and to operate a scripting of the self. Lena, it is rather through the objects of instant and regressive pleasures (such as games, telephone screens, pop-culture images or junk food) that you wanted to generate new mythologies and iconography from adolescence, to show the effects that these images can have on our behaviors and act on our bodies, both in the social sphere and in the intimate sphere. The painting of the armchair-brioche crunched in full teeth intervenes as the symbol of an image that consumes us and that we digest. For you, are these images meant to project our identities and our common desires?
Lena Long: I often wonder through what channels of representation the powers shape our intimacies and our bodies to our fantasies. I think it's mainly through the image. My work is rooted in the study of forms of domination and their symbols. It is important to me to anchor my work in a domestic context and its imagery. Indeed, Hollywood movies, attractions and merchandising form economies, mentalities and lifestyles that found a global civilization of desires, dictate attitudes, orient choices and entrench prejudices. Their entanglement in many social spheres integrates them into the realm of habit and routine. The compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness as a whole obliges - according to me - to the observation of the daily life to analyze the globalization of the habitus. My register is that of forms that are inscribed in consumerism, technology and the imaginary of the everyday.
JDC: Indeed, there is in your works a will to go beyond a description of the world as it is, with the staging of archetypal objects and particular situations. You go rather to seek what there is of underlying, to draw what there is of deep in the adolescence, which is an age of transition transcended by the contradictions. Amélie, I have the impression that you represent the environment of your characters to reveal their states of mind. The addition of the feelings that appear - melancholy, sweetness, sisterhood... - builds up a kind of self-awareness and awareness of a generation.
JDC: You both start with large notebooks, where you list collected images, situations that have occurred, associations of ideas, particular compositions or assemblies of colors. Moreover, you master, each in your own way, the wooden panel, Lena by preparing it with calcium carbonate then by applying dry oil, in the manner of the fresco; Amélie, by mastering the technique of the icon, which consists in engraving the drawing on wood coated with levkas*, then to paint by the flatness of successive layers, of the darkest tints to the lightest colors. This confrontation that you operate between ancestral pictorial techniques and an iconography borrowed from popular culture and the inexhaustible source of the Internet, make the strength of your work. What does the dialogue between these pictorial techniques so rigorous and the representations of these figures or objects say about your work?
Amélie Bigard : It was in churches that I first admired icons. It was outside the institutionalized framework of museums and galleries that I discovered, as a child, what art was. I was very quickly moved by this religious imagery. I wondered about its essence, its technique, and that's why I wanted to learn about it. I trained myself in the preparation of wood, then in engraving, egg painting and the pictorial process of lighting, but also in axonometric perspective and the synthesis of representations. I find myself in the false simplicity of this technique and the impact given to the characters I want to talk about by stripping away the clichés of what makes an era, such as clothes or brands for example.
LL : On the contrary, for me it is the images manufactured by our world that interest me: advertising, packaging, branding... as images orient choices and root prejudices, I naturally went towards a painting of the image. Figurative painting, in oil, and its culturally easier access thanks to its democratization are dear to my heart. I want to make this practice more accessible and make it a tool to communicate with audiences less aware of artistic forms.
JDC: You collaborate for the first time together, with the creation of a model and a doll, made by Laurence Ruet. The characters of your paintings have been extracted from the two-dimensional. How did you come to these objects and what place do they now have in your work?
AB & LL : Our practices as painters also assert themselves with a work on the support and with a reflection on installation gestures. Although of different construction, the paintings and pieces in volume will belong to the same register as the other works. We would like the paintings and models to respond to each other like a still play. As painters, we consider these installation gestures as painting gestures.
JDC: Walking u home! This ambiguous injunction oscillates between the distressing proposal of a man with bad attentions, and the reassuring attitude of the women between them, marker of a reassuring sisterhood. The title of the exhibition reminds us that public space is unequally shared between girls and boys, from the playground to the subway trains. But in the tumult of images and representations of the body that your generation carries, I was soothed to contemplate an intimate and gentle approach to adolescence. Pegasus is now at rest, after centuries of celestial adventures and energy in battle. The young man in the orange pants is dreaming, a paper airplane in his hand. I wanted to initiate this conversation between your two worlds because they draw from the same carefree force. What do you think of this dialogue, and what does the other's work inspire in you?
AB & LL : We both believe that we do not have a "soft" approach to adolescence. What interests us is a tenderness for our subjects and a tenderness in the way we paint. But this period of life also embodies the threshold of violence - psychological, economic, social. We have strong interests and common motives that we treat very differently, clinging to a history of painting and to various sources of inspiration. Having grown up side by side, in our lives as well as in our practices, we have experiences that come together and are reflected in our paintings, each with its own retranscription.
*The levkas is the usual name given to the white coating of the bottom of the icon composed of white of Meudon, Troyes or Spain mixed with glue on which the colors will offer their best transparency.