Friday, March 9, 2012

Valérie Blass Q&A Out Today in National Post

I'm not going to mince any words here: I love the work of Montreal sculptor Valérie Blass. Seeing her current show in Montreal at the MACM was one of the highlights of my winter.

While in Montreal, I had the privilege of talking with Blass about her work. A condensed version of that exchange was published today in the National Post.

Here's an excerpt:

Q What life experience of yours has been most influential on your artwork?

A Well, it has to be the experience of creating the art itself. I start out with some ideas and visualizations, but it's only through working with materials that a piece really comes into being. One of my motivations for making artwork is to end up surprising myself.

Q You use clothing very effectively in a lot of your sculptures. How does fashion affect your process?

A Two things come to mind. First, I like fashion; I look at its images, colours and aesthetics on a formal level. It's not like, "Oh, hemlines are rising this year. I'd better go buy a new dress!" Second, working with clothing is a way of talking about the body without actually showing the body. Classical sculptures often concentrated on the form of the body alone. Contemporary clothes, accessories, hairstyles and fabrics are things that hide the body, but at the same time transform it. It's a way of creating a rhythm, a theme, and speaking a bit about humanness without showing it in a very academic way.

Also here is the slightly embarrassing (for me) question I wanted to ask Blass the most, and her response:

Q A lot of good contemporary art makes me feel bad about life. But your art, which is good, makes me feel good about life. What do you think of your art having this kind of life-affirming effect?

A Well, I do hope it's kind of funny without being naive. When you're young, you think that happiness is an absence of disagreeable things. But in fact, it's about a contrast: there being pleasure in life, but pleasure along with pain, along with difficult things, along with sexuality, along with desire. I hope my work contains all those things - including love, and a little bit of irony, too.

For more about Blass' past in movie-prop making and her new obsession with body-painting (in her art!) read on at the Post.

(Photo of Blass' Femme Panier by Richard-Max Tremblay courtesy the MACM)


Heather Saunders said...

This is fantastic work--thanks for posting this interview. I love the concept of clothing being evocative of the body. There's something wonderfully jarring about the posture of the sculpture shown here, and something so animated, that she seems like a kindred spirit of Yinka Shonibare, MBE.

Leah Sandals said...

Thanks Heather. Yes, I love her work too. Even when she is not working with clothing, she does really interesting work with surface treatments and coverings. Seeing the show in person is highly recommended... it runs until April 22nd in Montreal.