Looking at Virginie Bocaert’s canvases is like breathlessly diving into figures that emerge from forms and moods. In the end, these constructed, destroyed and reconstructed figures are all about emotion.
The 36-year-old painter was born in France and has worked in Montreal since 2002. She became interested in oil painting at the age of 10, coming from a family of great art lovers. Her parents helped to instigate her cultural awareness by bringing her to visit artist’s studios, museums and art galleries. In 1997, she graduated with honours from the École supérieure de mode in Paris, and began a career as a fashion designer. She later returned to painting after taking a few workshops with artists like Anne Van Mierlo, Jennifer Hornyak and Marilyn Rubenstein, and decided to get a studio and work on her style.
Evidently, Virginie Bocaert’s stint in the fashion industry was very trying for her. In many of her works, she utilizes elements and materials from the fashion industry to communicate her own sensations, memories, and emotions. For example, in Bocaert’s Si tu savais (If you knew), we see a woman with her upper body slightly bent over. Several grey threads burst forth from her eyes and evoke tears. We also notice that the edge of the fabric at the bottom of the clothing worn by the figure is frayed, giving the impression of a gradual coming apart at the seams.
This type of emotive imagery is the artist’s way of expressing her anguish around the stereotypes imposed by her profession. In a world where things go so fast, we have to be strong to make our own place in society. Bocaert also uses her artwork to express the extent to which models are treated like objects. When she was painting these figures, she was feeling hurt and her melancholy came through in them.
Today, Bocaert has reached a more serene space, but she continues to live with the characters that she has constructed. She believes they are like friends and companions for her as they are silent and they do not judge her. The human being is a very strong subject and is quite present in all her work. Bocaert reflects on her work and influences, claiming that "Indeed, because of his complexity and diversity, man puts us in situations or states that can be constructive or destructive. Like Jean-Paul Sartre said, "Hell is other people", and Thomas Hobbes said, "Man is a wolf to man". We must live and struggle with certain states that others impose on us. For a long time, the influence, prejudices, and scrutiny of others were for me a battle in which to grow, to learn to know myself and to acquire self-confidence."
Virginie Bocaert was born in France. She has been living and working in Montreal since 2002.
“It was around the age of 10 that I discovered oil painting and began exploring with the medium. As my parents were big fans of painting, they took me to Paris several times to visit artist workshops and studios. It was the experience of visiting artist spaces, art galleries, and museums throughout my childhood that enriched my cultural perspective”…
In 1997 she obtained a diploma from the Graduate School of Paris fashion with honors.
After a career as a designer for women, the artist decided to turn back to painting full time.
Following several workshops with artists like Anne Van Mierlo, Jennifer Hornyak and Marilyn Rubenstein, she decided to take a studio to work his own style.
The achievement of several abstract works by means of textiles, clothing and collages today leads to a more figurative work, which represents the accumulation of his life experiences.
”My painting is like a setting image, a representation of what I felt or lived at a time past or present of my life. It takes its strength from the memory.
Through my history, my experience and my origins atmospheres immerse my work. I jump on the canvas without a clear idea of the final result. I apply colors and shapes until it start to show a sense, an atmosphere that I recognize that I can decode and I can understand the source. It’s like an open book on a lifetime. They are often feelings that arise. It is through the construction, destruction and reconstruction that show any characters and/or places.
The work takes it’s meaning when ‘the history’ appears to me quickly. If I have trouble with the direction of my canvas so I reworked it and sometime when I can’t find a sens to it, I take a distance (few days or weeks, even months!) and then take it back to find a new direction that speak more to me.
The human being is also very strong and very present in my work. Indeed by its complexity and diversity, human puts us in situations or statements that can be constructive or destructive. As said Jean-Paul Sartre ‘Hell is other people’. And Thomas Hobbes ‘Human being is a wolf to human being’. We must live and fight with and against some statements imposed by others. The influence, prejudice, the critics of others has often been a battle for me in instance to build myself a personality, to know me better and gain confidence in me.