The Controversial Art of Oh de Laval


Theater at Trocadero from the movie The Dreamers by Bertolucci. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Street at Strasbourg St-Dennis from the movie Une Femme est une Femme by Godard. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Here I am, in a bright and sunny day inside the darkness of the metro, going to meet Oh de Laval at popular neighborhood Strasbourg St Dennis, my head is full of thoughts intrigued by the mysterious personality of this young Polish painter, I have been talking with her through Facebook during the last month and a half, trying to step inside her world to imagine the best way to photograph her. I step out of the metro and finally see her from the back, waiting for me just outside de exit, with a sporty outfit and a small backpack, I arrive from behind, she turns her head, we see each other in the distance, a smile comes out of our souls and then we finally say hi face to face.

Oh de Laval is a Paris lover, she’s always in Paris for her birthday the 7 of January, celebrating with her friends around Strasbourg-St Dennis, le Marais and Cafe la Perle near Picasso museum. During our conversations in Facebook before she came to Paris, I found that she has a deep knowledge about the movies that has been filmed in this city, so I decided to photographed her in the places where those movies were filmed, giving her the opportunity to put her own personality inside the ambiance of those movies. From her list I picked Une Femme est un Femme from Jean-luc Godard shot entirely at Strasbourg-St Denis, The Dreamers from Bernardo Bertolucci which was filmed by the iconic Cafe Valois and at Trocadero theater and finally Last Tango in Paris  by Bernardo Bertolucci filmed in the area of Bir-Hakeim.

Pictures done in places related to the movies Une Femme est une Femme, the dreamers and last tango in paris.

Her personality is as controversial as her work full of color, violence, sex and love, you will never guess which will be her answer to the next question. While we were having a coffee in a traditional Parisian cafe by the Porte St. Dennis, I called her an artist and she immediately replied “I’m not calling myself an artist, I’m a painter. I’m the only one who knows which one of my paintings is art and which one isn´t, if I can finish the painting with the idea that I want, it’s art for me, if not it’s just a painting.” and she continuous by saying “I just paint because I like it, people come and go, one day they like you and the next day they don’t, one day they like one of my paintings and the next one they don’t like it because it’s too violent. I think that if you like someone`s work, you should like everything of it, people like to put artist in boxes: abstract, portrait, landscape, etc. but one person is made of many different layers.”

Theater at Trocadero from the movie The Dreamers by Bertolucci. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

When Oh de Laval was 19 went to the school of design but she quitted because it was too hard for her, she didn´t felt the freedom to do what she wanted. Right after she started to paint and unexpectedly, she received the strong support of one of her teachers from the design school who made her life difficult while she was a student. Today she paints full-time, her art is managed by a young Parisian girl who she found through instagram looking to meet somebody in the city, the girl end up being an art student, they met and went out to Bastille, got drunk and days after she became her manager.

Street at Strasbourg St-Dennis from the movie Une Femme est une Femme by Godard. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

When people says that her work has an influence of Picasso she says: “I don’t see it! Actually, one time during one of my vernissages in Paris a guy told me that my work looked like Picasso, and I asked him: why didn’t you say it looks like George Braque? and he replied, because the only cubist I know is Picasso…so?” and then she adds “I’m more influenced by Francis Bacon, not in the style but in the subject matter. He’s not my inspiration as a painter, but more like a person, he was very cool guy and I like the way he lived.”

Porte de St. Dennis from the movie Une Femme est une Femme by Godard. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I continued digging inside her personality, I take a new zip of my coffee, looked her straight to the eyes and very intrigued by the continuous use of different kinds of violence mixed with sex on her work, I asked her why and she says “Because it has a strong impact on people, it moves some strong emotions, you have to kick people’s ass to make them move, as Francis Bacon said: The art that has no balls, has no value”.  That answer was in contradiction with the person who I was watching in front of me,  when you see her, you can only think about tenderness and love, with a soft voice and sweet face you can only imagine an angel fallen from the sky, and then she gives me the final thrust by saying “I have a horrible character, I’m very terrorist, I’m the only child at home and I always have to get what I want.”

Theater at Trocadero from the movie The Dreamers by Bertolucci. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Oh de Laval. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

My cup of tea was almost empty, a sign that we should step out into the streets to start shooting, but I had one last question in my mind and as I said before, her answer was also unexpected…Do you have a boyfriend? “I completely quit the idea to have a boyfriend, I don’t want to spend time on it, I spent the best years of my life with guys and since I can have many boyfriends, why should I think to have just one? We humans are not monogamous by nature and also not sedentary, I love to keep moving and traveling and at the end of my life I want to have my grave in Barcelona.”

Strasbourg St. Denis neighborhood from the movie Une Femme est une Femme movie by Godard. © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

After that last answer, we walked to each one of the places from the selection of movies that I picked, to paint with light the way I saw her that day.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

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The Ironic work of Thierry Bruet


Painter Thierry Bruet

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

SPANISH VERSION

I wanted to start inviting artists to my blog whose art at first sight could shake my heart and my brain at the same time, artists who were developing an original way to see, different from what we normally see around, but at the same time artists with a strong sense of critic of modern world.

One night when I went to bed decided to start searching on Instagram by hash tags and found this one: #parisart, slowly started to scroll down, in the middle of the complete darkness of my flat, just the light of my iphone was lighting my face, trying to find something who could attract my attention. Suddenly a painting full of amazing colors attracted my eyes as a magnet, I immediately tapped on it and when it opened my dual fibers connected, the painting was from French artist Thierry Bruet.

Painter Thierry Bruet

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Next morning, the first thing I did was to send an email to Thierry and Couple hours later that same day I received a phone call from a number I didn’t have registered, picked it up and in the other side I had the friendly, deep and dynamic voice of Thierry Bruet, telling me he wanted to arrange an appointment for the next day….When things are meant to happen, the doors open smoothly, with no effort.

Thierry Bruet paintings knocked my inner dual fiber for 3 reasons: first of all he´s using a classical technique to paint (which is unusual for this modern days), second the colors, contrasts and the way he use light are just amazing and third (and most important) the way he mocks society with his paintings, by combining characters from totally different eras of art, on situations that have an strong sense of critic using a caricaturized way to paint his characters which makes stronger the message he wants to send. When I asked him about this last reason, he said “I just paint people who you could easily find in the streets, people with a non traditional beauty for classic paintings, you can even find people with a more caricaturized appearance in real life, it’s just a different beauty that normally you will not find in classical paintings and that’s why I do it”.

Painter Thierry Bruet

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The day of the shooting I arrived to his studio around 11:30 am, the morning was cold and cloudy, I opened door, passed through a curtain made out of a bubble wrap and there he was sitting on his sofa placidly smoking a cigarette while waiting for me. The ambiance in his studio is warm and cozy, with some low lights in the living room where you find a beautiful sofa escorted by a huge library and just besides the space where he paints, full of materials, sketches, frames and of course paintings made in the big format that he likes to use. Thierry offered me an espresso, he forgot to bring the sugar and Cesar (his partner, who’s  in charge of all the administrative issues which Thierry hates) remembers him to bring it to the table, we sat down in the living room, started talking, braking the ice and deciding how to start while we were enjoying the flavor of that coffee.

Painter Thierry Bruet

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Thierry is a self – taught painter, he’s been painting since he has memory and the first contact he had with the masters of art was when he was 5 years old and his grand father took him to the Louvre.  But the only person of the family related to arts was his aunt (the sister of his mother), who was working in the fine arts market with Paul Colin (a famous poster maker from the 30’s) and was the girlfriend of a famous French painter called Georges Mathieu who was into the lyric abstraction in the 50’s.

One day, her aunt ask him to giver her one of his paintings and she took it home, when Georges Mathieu came to visit her, he saw the work of Thierry and ask her: “Have you bought a Modigliani? ” Wow! A Modigliani painted by a child that was just having fun playing with paintings. Then she told Thierry the story, he felt very proud of it but  since he was just 7 years old, he couldn’t understand well what that meant but as he says “it was a way to feel good and continue painting all the time”.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Years after, he had to make a decision about his professional career, but he came from an industrial family (his father had an advertisement company), so studying fine arts at that time was not an option. He thought “I’m going to study something between both fields (industrial & arts), so I will do architecture”.

Ones he graduated, he started working as an architect in a design studio, he was in charge of doing the plans, years after he went deep in the business and ended up constructing buildings in Paris. But all the administrative management involved in that work just bored him, meanwhile he continued painting and the day of his first exhibition arrived . Little by little he started to get more involved into his work as a painter until the age of 35 when he finally decided to dedicate full time to be an artist. He has not followed the normal path of a painter and he has always painted with a classic technique and explains: “I think there is still a lot things to say with this style and since I want to send straight messages, the best way to keep it closer to reality is by using the classical style to paint.”

Painter Thierry Bruet

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

When I asked him about the reaction of the French public to his paintings, he says “There is some people here that like what I do, but in general the French public is a bit dull, they don’t have a vanguard mind set and always want the classic style”. He thinks art is today in the exact same moment of the 19th century, when the big “Salons de Peinture” were selling for a fortune the official painters and in the side there was a group of artists who were developing new concepts but nobody knew them. He says “Today museums don’t want to miss anything in art and even if they don’t understand it, they buy it due to their fear to pass over something that would be important in the future, but most of the time they end up buying crap and my art mocks that system”. At the end, he continuous living his day by day, he doesn’t like to make plans for the future and continue selling his art all around the world, his next exhibition will take place in Palm Beach in the month of April 2016.

That day, the 3 of us (Thierry, Cesar and me) had lunch together at his studio, Cesar brought a delicious pizza from a good Italian restaurant around the corner and the most amazing Eclaire du Cafe that I’ve had since living here in France. We talked about their taste for good restaurants in Paris, their love for the Island of Corsica and other regions around France worth to visit and at end we finish with the cherry on the pie talking a little bit about Napoleon.

Here is the way I saw Thierry Bruet  in his studio, hope you enjoy the pictures!