Amélie Betrand was one of Artissima Art Fair‘s (Torino, Italy) stars.
Amélie, who are you? Where do you come from?
My name is Amélie Bertrand. I am a painter and I was born in the South of France, in 1985. I studied Fine Arts in Marseille. I live and work in Paris and I am represented by the Semiose Gallery.
What is your everyday life? An example of an ordinary day…
I wake up early, go to my workshop and come back late. This is my ordinary day. And I sell clothes two days a week.
How and when did you decide you wanted to become an artist and did you ever regret this decision?
I never really decided to be an artist. I therefore didn’t ever regret this decision. I come from a family who had a strong keenness for all forms of art. They painted, they drew cartoons and they listened to a lot of music.
I have always drawn and painted. But it’s only in high school that I confronted my work to the vision of others for the first time, which enabled me to develop a critical sense and a certain reflexion on what I would create. I discovered art history, the Trecento and the Quattrocento. Painting has started to take up all my time. It has become vital. As vital as to eat three times a day.
When we discovered your paintings at the 2014 Fiac OFFicielle, there was a whole bunch of us that were pulled up short by your paintings, the work of an at the time barely know young artist, without understanding why. I guess somehow we discovered in them a path to a future in painting, one that would reconcile what is expected and what is, painting and reality, old and new…I don’t know if this makes sense to you, but why painting? Why 3D images? Could you tell us, how, why and when you came up with your style?
Thanks! That’s actually a very interesting question. A few of these reflections can at one point gather into a thought process. I humbly try to place myself into contemporary art history using the tools that surround me. I want to play with the idea of reality, through lure. Our look is formatted by our surroundings. I paint to propose a sort of gap, a tension. I never try to create any real space, only painted spaces. All the elements are shaped to render an atmosphere, a weird aftertaste of “déjà vu”, a contemporary climate at the same time psychological and physical. I play with the depth effects, the perspectives and the proportions. All the drawing is made on Photoshop, where everything is permitted and possible. Photoshop enables me to constantly imagine new designs, new transformations. It enables me to open the realm of possible and in another way to completely distort it. This is why I don’t really use any 3D software. Everything would have been too accurate with it.
My father is a graphic designer and has taught me early on how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. I have had the impression of discovering simple solutions to painting problems. At the beginning of my Fine Arts School years, I have started by trusting the figure, the model, to try to convey in a very realistic way, an expression, a face or a posture. I was studying Cranach
And loved John Currin.
I used Photoshop for my compositions. I was working along the rules of oil painting, but the weight of the modele was soon to become too restrictive. My paintings were referring to art history. I went on to a study trip to Canada, where I discovered the systematic and rather frightening use of Scotch tape (or sellotape) and “masking tape”. They were completely uninhibited, and would use all sorts reproducible images in a merry mess. I have started to know better German painting, such as Polke
I have started to create compositions on Photoshop that were becoming more and more accomplished everyday, understanding that doubt did not have any place in composition. I have tested no other technique: nor engraving, nor silkscreen. Oil was taking all my time. I have been totally absorbed by this practice.
Is there a narration behind each of the pieces, of do you consider them as still lives or exercises in style each time?
The openness of the paintings enables different approaches. Several figurative elements are evocative of things or events, and are starting a direct dialogue with the visitor who loves stories: however the narrative element is never strong enough to make us forget that we are watching a painting. These are pictures that were painted with only one layer of painting. I need the eye not to be distracted by any shininess, or painting effect. The render has to be cold, tensed and synthetic. That’s why I am working with a system of tracing papers and stencils. The spectator has to be maintained at the surface of the painting. I do not consider them as still lives nor as exercises in style.
Could you give us some of your visual references?
Right now, I am seriously into the work of Ugo Rondinone
And Tomma Abts
And last but not least, because we at hlow are also design lovers, how did you come across the genius idea of a pink lino for your show Queens and Kings?
For the scenography, I work in close link with my gallerist. For this series of paintings, the whole color spectrum has been tried. We have decided to bring a neon glow to the ground and to the edges of the paintings, to bring a form of unity to my dance-floor! It is quite musical actually.