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 Magnetic Energy of Actress Madeleine Pougatch


Madeleine Pougatch

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

I meet Madeleine for the fist time on a cloudy and cold day at the end of 2015, we met at the metro station Hotel de Ville exit of rue de Rivoli and immediately we headed towards a cafe bar three blocks from there. We sat down in one of those small tables with a typical red couch in one of the sides and in the other a normal chair, I let her pick the side and she sits in the couch. The waiter arrives, she orders a strong cocktail, strong as her personality and right away, I started to be bombarded by all that avalanche of energy that she emanates, specially through her big emerald color eyes.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Madeleine is an actress by choice and by passion, since she was a 3-year-old child she was always looking where was a camera to stand in front of it, she had this strong desire to live a life in front of the lens. she almost felted like a jealousy of the actors that she was watching on the movies. Ever since, she used to create plays with her brothers and sisters  where she was always acting, but also directing and disguising them to personify each of the characters.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

When the moment to decide about her professional career arrived, acting couldn´t be an option since her family was not related to the field and she didn´t know anybody in that world, so she decided to do a bachelor in Hospitality Management. Nevertheless, the first day of class when the teacher asked her what she wanted to do after the school, rather than answering she wanted to be an entrepreneur or a business woman, she said “I want to be an actress and singer”, because she also uses of her sexy  hoarse voice to sign, actually in this moment she’s working a piece of music with Jerome Goldet who is the bassist of Mathieu Chedid, et  Vanessa Paradis.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

She always knew her passion was acting and ones she finished her bachelor, she decided to go full-time into the search of her real dream, as she says “There is just one life, I didn’t want to have regrets and so I decided to go deeply on it”. It was only until she was 22 years old that she started to study theater at Cours Simon . Since then things have been evolving as an actress, last week for example, she was at St. Petersburg presenting her first main role in an independent film called “Particulier à Particulier”, which was first presented in Paris in an independent festival. The film is completely filled by her character and as she says “if you don’t like me as an actress, you’re not going to like the film.”

This time we met at a typical crepes restaurant by the Canal St. Martin called Lulu La Nantaise, small and cozy ambiance, with tables that are as big as the scope of your own breath, she ordered a Salmon crepe and in my side I got a chicken cheese and honey mustard one. But of course, when we were ordering the drinks, Madeleine  recommended me to try the cider, which is a french apple wine, we got a jar for the two of us. Of course I have to thanks her because the recommendation was great, it was the best starter to warm up our tiny table and our shooting.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The food arrived, we started to eat and went deeply in a conversation about her life and she made me understand that the fascination she has for acting is because it allows her to live all the stories she can’t in real life, as she said “if I would do in real life, what I do in the scene, I would become completely crazy: killing a baby, being a lawyer, being a crazy mother in law, etc. As an actress, I can do all those things which I have the desire to do a little bit, but in real life I can’t. At the end, what I love of acting is that it makes me vibrate and there is no other thing in life that can make me feel like that”

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Right now, she also working mainly in two projects: a role in a french TV show called “Joséphine Ange Gardien” of TF1, she will be playing a young 16th years old girl during the 60´s, who got pregnant and has to abandon her baby.  The second project, is a role in a film where she had to work in the snow, up in the mountains with a beautiful sled dog, shooting in a T-shirt under the cold winter and doing scenes where she had to put her feet and arms completely inside the snow.  She’s also working in a project for a group of 30 students inspired in Maurice Pialat, at the same time she will be filming for a director of the école de la cité  who wrote a film inspired on her as actress, she says to inspire someone to create a story is “The grail of any actor”

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, we were eating and in between the sounds of the cutlery hitting the plates and the noise of the talks of the tiny tables besides us, I asked her which would be her dream roll? She looks up and after a fraction of a second without any shadow of a doubt she says: “I would like to represent Charlotte Corday, the noble girl who killed the french revolution leader Jean-Paul Marat inside his own house while taking a bath. She was sentenced to the guillotine dressed in a red which represented the betrayers who had killed a representative of the people. But, in general I would like to do different roles, change from one genre to the other, from comedy, to drama, to action, to history, etc” She looks down to her plate and continues eating.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

We finished our lunch and with the stomach full and the soul warmed up by the cider, we went out to hit the streets of this neighborhood by the Canal St. Martin, but wait! she says, before I have to smoke a cigarette. The area of Canal St. Martin is one of the places which Madeleine likes the most in Paris, she says: “it is a very Parisian area, with a huge population of young people and with an immense diversity of places for the social live: bars ,restaurants, cafes, brasseries and of course the sidewalks of the canal which become a picnic area during the spring and summer” and since I like construct the visual stories around something attached to my guests, we went there to do our shoot.

Actress Madeleine Pougatch at canal st. martin.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

To finish I just have to say that while I´m writing finishing to write this post, I´m watching live on Internet the visit of Barack Obama to Cuba, the fist visit of president from United States in more than 50 years, at the same time is Monday of Eastern and it is also Full moon … too many coincidences for one day and I can predict that is because also with Madeleine we are being witness of the birth of a new star.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

So, here is the photo story about my walk with her, a very passionate actress that I´m sure will reach all her goals and will delight us with her talent and explosive energy through the screen for many years.

Cheers!