MEETING WITH LUCILE LITTOT26 July 2017
Seen on A Part Magazine N°1, meeting with Lucie Littot
The figure of the “decadent princess”, whether shown explicitly or through the use of metonymy, is omnipresent in your work. Why is this?
I have a great deal of love and compassion for tormented divas.
The women who are, or who have been, part of my life are like characters from a novel, taking on the role of femme fatale, deviant ingénue or drama queen. Women with character, anyway. Recently, I met Lana Del Rey at Chateau Marmont. I told her that I mostly listen only to her music when I’m at work in the studio. She was delighted and asked me which songs were my favourites. I said: High by the Beach, Ultraviolence and Gods and Monsters. In reply, she simpered: “Oh! So you’re a bad girl!” Doesn’t that just about sum it up?
Would you say your art is feminist?
I’d like to quote the great Vicky de Sainte-Hermine: “Beyond the macho and feminist fantasies which always result from frustration is the archangel dream… The androgynous being…”. The ritualisation of femininity is inherent in my work, but it doesn’t aim to be feminist propaganda. My work doesn’t raise women’s power as an issue: rather, it demonstrates their power. It is taken in, assimilated and adapted through my paintings and installations in a surreal, expressionist way. My last series of paintings, DOLORES 2028, shows female warriors. Amazonian women inspired by Middle Age and Renaissance paintings. Romantic metaphors of fighters relentlessly pursuing the war of emotions.
My work is full of romance. It’s passionate and painful; cruel and sweet at the same time. Prenom Carmen could well be my next incarnation for the next series.
What role does the dominant pastel palette play in your artistic journey? What does it represent for you?
It came about from the pink titles and candid, bright voice of Mia Farrow in the credits to Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Polanski). I work in series, and, after a darker, blacker period, these acid colours emerged. It’s a bit like an overly acidic sweet which makes your tongue sting but you can’t spit it out because the waiter has kindly brought it to you with the bill (laughs). I like to say that this transition to pastel colours represents the rococo overflowing onto my baroque side. Or maybe time spent in the Los Angeles sunshine and my obsession with Zweig’s biography of Marie Antoinette also count for something. At the moment I mainly look at Impressionists-Realists. I was shocked by Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Sunflowers when I saw them again recently. I’d like to take up intimate landscapes again. To paint little details and still lifes, while preserving the evil “clownish” side somewhere between devil and light which I so adore. A little like Goya. Some of his paintings, like The Straw Manikin, have always made me think of screenshots from avant-garde horror films.
Your work is imbued with a certain visual chaos: paintings packed with material, exploded staging, sculptures which are almost mutant… Does this suggest a form of protest?
My artistic practice is a wild and incisive translation of my generation, thanks to the black humour and nihilism which emerge. Just like the scalpel which cuts into already botoxed lips to create new contours. […] My paintings are often associated with the “Bad Painting” movement and I take that as a clear compliment.
Your installations bring together the material symbols of the bourgeoisie: baroque furniture, Versailles pomp, ornaments…
What does this environment bring to the flow of your work?
It comes from a unique, imaginary world. A reinvented world. It takes up traditions and symbols borrowed from the aristocracy or the Roaring Twenties rather than from the bourgeoisie. They certainly create the perfect setting for my decadent princesses, outraged beauties and creatures to languish just as they should, clothed in light. Ludwig or The Twilight of the Gods (1972, Luchino Visconti) is for me a benchmark film for decor showing how the fantastic and illusion are needed to satisfy a being’s fantasies.
Is the concept of kitsch important to you?
I don’t like the word “kitsch” because it’s a snobby word for what should be the idea of bad taste in comparison with good taste, although I understand that my fetishism for objects makes you mention it! I’m more interested by the idea of how what is “beautiful” becomes “ugly”. Which certainly suggests the idea of the old-fashioned, which I play with. I mix everyday objects with my ceramics in my installations. So, for example a Louis XV 1960 bed gets repainted, covered with mirrors and sprinkled with glitter. Or a tea set gets exploded into a thousand pieces, with reference to the famous Italo disco track Sarà perché ti amo written with the broken porcelain pieces on an Alice in Wonderland-style pouffe. I take inspiration from the folklore of fairy tales, film scenes and novels to transform my own memories. Like a labyrinth to secret rooms. […] I like the discomfort in a work of art which reveals emotions.
Is performance a medium that allows you to say more than a static work?
But that’s painting’s exact strength! Though static, it can really shake things up and I think my painting is vocal rather than silent. I see performance as a celebratory event, as it’s the time when I put on make up and get dressed up like my characters. The installation becomes the stage set for the show. And as the party girl that I am, music and role playing have a joyful, exciting effect on me and let me express the same lyricism as in the paintings, ceramics, videos and installations through another artistic form.
/ Text by Maxime Gasnier