Interview: Laurence Antignac
Luca Curci talks with Laurence Antignac during CANVAS INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at Palazzo Bembo – Venice Grand Canal.
French-born Vietnamese painter Laurence Antignac has lived in Paris and Saigon. Her artistic journey has continuously been inspired by her double culture. She paints alone or with fellow artists in the studio. This movement between introspection and exposure is vital to her artwork dynamic. Fascinated by the tension between the painter’s thought process and the painting’s own power, she lives for the dizziness of the unpredictable confrontation and final resolve into the synchronization of colours, physicality of the paint, gesture, and emotions. At that moment, the painting says what she feels, detached from aesthetics and from any idea of people-pleasing. As a yoga practitioner, Laurence experiences painting as a very similar experience of creation and body to soul alignment. It’s about Breathing. Inspiring or being inspired by thoughts and feelings flowing from her inner self and real-world experience. Exhaling then becomes the natural expression of her emotions on the canvas.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Laurence Antignac – I’m exploring a path between figuration and abstraction to tap into a more demanding layer of interaction with the viewer. I’m evolving towards a new equilibrium between the rationality of a deliberate geometrical structure from the sketching, and the immediateness of sensations. The structure becomes a container for emotions to develop into the painting’s narrative. I’m working in parallel on a large painting composed of personal pictures of the Imperial City Of Hue, Vietnam, named Women Rituals and a woman’s portrait. My Vietnamese culture is leading my inspiration at the moment.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
LA – I was very active in diverse artistic activities as a child, from playing the piano to clay modelling or drawing. I don’t have an academic background in Art. I’ve started oil painting on my own 10 years ago when I was expatriated to Vietnam for work. In hindsight, it was a serendipitous time for me. This time of life on my ancestors’ land was a personal crossroad that has determined my artistic journey. Back in France, I’ve followed classes in various art studios in Paris, Ateliers du Carrousel du Louvre, Atelier Artisan, and Atelier St Fargeau to nurture my solo work. I still do. I was born and raised in France but never disconnected from my Vietnamese heritage, which I thank my parents for. We were celebrating Têt, the Vietnamese New Year, and our grandparents’ deaths anniversaries before the family altar, burning incense and bowing in prayers even without sound religious beliefs. It’s true that entering maturity in life pushes your desire to go back to your roots even unconsciously. I’m a rational emotional character, in that order. I need a structure to start. I can surrender to randomness or the painting’s own power when the battlefield is framed. Then rules will be challenged.
LC – How do you choose your subjects? Is it a reasoned or an instinctive process?
LA – It’s a mix of instinctive choices when I come across pictures that resonate with my mood or current explorations, whether they be personal or from media.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
LA – Art is my way to express my thoughts, beliefs, and emotions essentially through oil painting or collage, always with a narrative. Don’t get me wrong, art shouldn’t need a ton of explanation to provoke something with the viewer. What I like to create is a dialogue in a very simple and instinctive way.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
LA – I’m presenting two oil paintings at the Venice International Fair, under the theme Out of Balance, that I created during the first lockdown in March 2020 in Paris. Making art in times of isolation has turned into a blessing. Lockdown has triggered unknown emotions in each of us. As an artist, I experienced isolation with curiosity and welcomed solitude as a powerful impulse to open windows to the outer world artistically. Lockdowns 1 and 2 represent women going through mixed feelings. On the one hand, feelings of seclusion, fear, and threat, and on the other hand hope, joy, and freedom. Lockdown 1, Gingko – Oil on canvas 100 x 80: The woman is turned back, her back occupies a large part of the composition, as a shield against unpredictable events. In her fancy dress, she’s holding herself tight, you can barely see her face as if stupefied in the midst of a party. Tall Gingko flowers are surrounding her, in dark red, and brown colours. Their undulations suggest threatening organisms, ready to attack. Lockdown 2, Lotus – Oil on canvas 100 x 80: The woman is facing us, completely stretched out of the frame. She’s confident, arms wide open, and the head was thrown back in a deep breath. Her bell is revealed with sensuality. You can feel the air caressing her. The Lotus around her is in vibrant yellows, and oranges. She’s hopeful and joyful, balanced again.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
LA – There’s an ambiguity around the word completion as completion is a short-lived feeling. Many of my paintings have had several lives, and carry scars, repentance, and layers. I need the slowness of oil painting. Completion could be a sensation of inner alignment that I compare to the yoga meditative experience.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
LA – Canvas is my preferred choice of physical support. I like the physical connection with the fabric, the resistance of the frame, and the whim of the paint on it.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LA – The Itsliquid group team has been fantastic all the way, very supportive with all the questions I had from logistics to hanging to accommodation. Very professional package. When I saw my 2 paintings hanging side by side on their own wall facing the Grand Canale in Palazzo Bembo, I was exhilarated and proud. All artists are thoughtfully curated room by room. Every detail from catalogues to artist interviews and media plans makes a professional event. The team recorded a short video of me presenting my work right when I arrived that will be posted on Instagram and Facebook. Very exciting!
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform? And about the organization of our event?
LA – I think it’s a great place to socialize your art and meet with emerging and known artists. As I said very professional all the way and very personal as well. I had a great conversation with Luca Curci who is really passionate about curation.