A Conversation with Laurianne Simon:
July 6th, 2015
A young artist from France who is exhibiting her work for the first time in Toronto at the Montgomery Inn's Museum, opening on July 12th from 4 - 6pm and after a three year hiatus. Here she explains her experiences in Toronto and how they compare to the life she left behind in France.
Tussle Magazine: Can you describe what your education life was like in France compared to that in Montreal?
Laurianne Simon: It is hard for me to compare my education life in Quimper, France to my education life in Montreal, Canada. The context is different. I spent 4 years in Quimper and 1 year in Montreal. It was an exchange. It is for sure different to be an art student in a cosmopolitan city in Canada than being a student in a regional city in France. The education is different and similar at the same time. It is really about the people you meet. The fellow student artists you create a community with and the professors you learn from, they are really the artists with whom you connect. And this is what was similar – the experience of the people.
TM: What was the reason for relocating to Canada initially, did that reason change?
LM: When I lived in Montreal, I met my finance who is from Ontario and after my exchange in Montreal he came with me to France for 1 year. There I finished my Master's degree and at that time we decided to move to Toronto. We just felt like it was there that we wanted to live. I visited Toronto twice when I was in Canada between 2010 and 2011. One visit the sky was grey and I had not been in France for a couple of months at that time and I will never forget how that sky made me think of my home town in Brest, France. I felt really good here and my instinct told me that I should move here. I don't know why but it felt like Toronto was a city stopped in time. It seems weird to say that, and I saw pictures of Toronto from the 1950's to now and I know that the skylines have changed a lot. And everything is changing everyday. But it seems like a city that will never lose that feeling. That feeling of changing all the time and at the same time keeping the same expression.
When I leave downtown on my bicycle to where I live in the west end I see many types of cultures and I feel like I travel the world in that trip. I am always attracted to the buildings that are older, and those in the process of being repaired or sometimes just keeping a shape of the past and not being repaired or renovated but instead left to be. This city has a lot of poetry. I cannot explain everything but I loved Toronto from the get go, and I love living here.
TM: How has Canada influenced your latest body of work?
LM: Does Canada influence my work? It might but I can not actually tell you how. I am probably influenced by everything that is around me. Going to the AGO, to MOCCA and to the other galleries could be educating my eyes differently. The AGO has beautiful shows of artists I love and have met in books before. And then I get there, to the AGO and I can see for example the work of Bacon in real life and see how it changes in time.
TM: What is your feeling of the art scene in Toronto compared to that in France?
LM: Comparing the art world in France and in Toronto is really difficult. I was a young student in Quimper, Brittany and a young artist with her Masters when I arrived in Toronto. Anyway, I am still really young and have a lot to experience, understand and learn. For now, it seems just too big for me. And in that way I don't think it is different.
Right now a lot of galleries from Dundas are moving to Dupont, and I can not really explain what is happening. I am exterior to everything, I hear talking about it and I enjoy the different histories that I discover. I am very excited about MOCCA moving and getting a bigger space. Other than that I do love listening to people but don't really have an answer to this question. It is the same world and it isn't. I am a young artist, I learn everyday.
TM: You mentioned that this is your first exhibition in 3 years, can you give us some insight to what was happening artistically in you life over this long hiatus?
LS: It is going to be my first exhibition in 3 years. But I don't feel like I am re-entering the art scene. I never left, or I was never in it – that is all I can answer. I need to share my work right now, it had to go out of the studio or I am going to destroy it over and over again. I need to accept it as a final piece and get ready for the next steps.
The exhibit is also serving as a deadline and forcing me to end each work – finish their process. I never stop working.
I left my country and my school at the same time, it was a lot to digest. I arrived, and took my time to experience more and to rebuilt a body of work Life is not as exciting if I am not in my studio struggling with paint and brushes, struggling with colours and forms, struggling with the extreme concentration of not being anywhere else but in the layers of the paint. I feel better now that I am organizing this show.
TM: Do you have a main inspiration? Why are you drawn to the abstract image? Have you always painted abstractly?
LS: My main inspiration for my work is the paint itself. I am obsessed with paint. The feel of paint. The materiality of the paint. I study paintings. Look at them in books and galleries. And paintings do not lie. They show movement. A distance. You are in it yet at the same time outside. It comes from you but it isn't you. It seems like a skin you are playing with to create all the feelings of you at the time – but without using words. My mother toungeg is french, I am getting better in english but painting is my language.
I like this quote of Le corbusier 'I prefer drawing to talking. It is faster, and leave less room for lies"
When I was painting figures, the question that I always would ask is “what would happen if I were to take away the characters, their fleshiness, their experience and their sense of living narrative” and I began to make them disappear into the paint.
TM: What are your future plans?
LS: I would love to do a residency. I would like participate in some group shows. I will continue working. And I am really thankful to have my first show in Toronto in a place like Montgomery's Inn.
The headkeeper, Oil on canvas, 30''x30''
The parrot, the chessboard, his boarder and my gesso bucket, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 49'' x 45"
Contact barrier, Oil, acrylic, cardboard and canvas on canvas, 20'' x18''