Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

Artists’ studios are unique places, with an aura as special as the person who brings them to life. The artist herself. Who lives there. Who creates there. In pursuit of that “instant” that will reach their audience. Virginie Caillet is no exception to this rule. A Parisian, she was brought up in Geneva and then took herself off to New York, returning in 2004 after she graduated from the famous Parson School of Design. Since then, the bodies – often naked – whose femininity she explores, have been imprinted on our retinas. Virginie Caillet is a friend of The Socialite Family. A spirit whose pathway through life fascinates us with its uniqueness. Frenetically combining photography, painting and drawing, her works capture us, questioning our own emotions. Passion, madness, joy, sensuality… sadness. They are palpable. True. Because they reflect her deepest impulses. Virginie Caillet doesn’t lie. She lives. She transcends what her everyday life and her muses offer her, anchored in reality or belonging to another time, with Egon Schiele foremost in her mind.

Immerse yourself a little bit more in the world of the Parisian on her agent’s website Vanessa Virag.

Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

Virginie, could you introduce yourself, please?

Virginie

I am a 39-year-old artist, born in Paris. I grew up in Geneva and then went to New York for four years to study at the Parsons School of Design. I returned to Paris in 2004. Drawing has always played a part in my life. I have always drawn, more or less at different times. Now, I have made it my profession and have been making a living doing it since 2007. Before that, I used drawing to earn my meals in restaurants and so on. My family has nothing to do with art. It makes you wonder how I got into it!

Where are we here?

Virginie

We are in my lair, the industrial area of Asnieres-sur-Seine. I owe this old printing works to my wonderful patron, Dominique Dutreix, who established me here nearly nine years ago. He’s my guardian angel! I’m very fortunate to have it. I live and work here. The space is amazing and full of light. Anything is possible! But this place is nearing its end very soon, and we will have to find refuge elsewhere. It’s very inspiring to arrive in such a unique place and make it your own home.

How would you define your style?

Virginie

I would say that my style is figurative. I paint mainly women, building abstract acrylic backgrounds which dry extremely quickly and on which I draw bodies and faces in black chalk and then incorporate pieces of photographs into them. So the result is really a mixture of drawing, painting and photography.

Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

Who inspires you? What period of art history?

Virginie

The period that probably affects me the most is German Expressionism for its lively, nervous and desperately human flawed side. But then I turn my gaze towards the delicacy of a Modigliani neck, a Klimt broken wrist, Picasso’s melancholy of human misery during his the blue period. Not to mention the gloomy strength of a Bacon, the darkness of a Rembrandt or a Caravaggio, the almost calligraphic gestures of Franz Kline, the expressionism of a Bernard Buffet, the magical composition of Rauschenberg’s collages, Basquiat’s spontaneity or Louise Bourgeois’ life story. In short, the list is pretty much endless. But absolute master, for me, I think, is Egon Schiele. With all that emanates from his bruised, beautiful and subversive bodies.

How do you design a theme for your exhibitions?

Virginie

I choose the themes of my exhibitions quite naturally because all my art is very autobiographical. So inspiration is wholly linked to the mood and state of the moment. I live, and I put that experience on the canvas.

What are your favourite colours (or materials)?

Virginie

My colours are often smudged as if they had been machine washed. I love Prussian blue, and I also like – when possible – to add one or two touches of red that often sexualise the bodies or faces. It’s probably a remnant of Schiele stalking me.

Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

The period that probably affects me the most is German Expressionism for its lively, nervous and desperately human flawed side.

Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

The naked body is omnipresent in your paintings, why is that?

Virginie

The body is definitely my favourite subject. I find it’s a subject I can’t get enough of. You can say anything with a body, the way you twist it, how you stretch it, how you break it. A body or a face tells a story from the outset. And then I love the human form, so what could be more natural than using the body to talk about humanity? I prefer the woman’s body for its curves, its sensuality, its delicacy and its flexibility. We get less of a message across with a male body, I think. I don’t really like clothes, because they give an idea of the time and the era and that would conceal what I’m trying to put under the spotlight.

In Paris, what are your favourite places to go for inspiration?

Virginie

I am fortunate to live in a city that is full of museums, architecture and beauty in general. Whether it is the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Grand Palais, Beaubourg or more recently the Louis Vuitton Foundation. But I love the views… Montmartre is probably the neighbourhood that inspires me the most. Otherwise, artists’ studios are still magical places to me, and some churches, such as Sacré Coeur or Notre Dame de Paris. I love the mystique, the inhabited atmospheres that both penetrate and transcend you!

What are your plans for this year?

Virginie

I’m heading to Germany! I will be exhibiting in Cologne for the first time… And, of course, there will be an exhibition in Paris too with Vanessa Virag who takes such good care of us.

Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human
Virginie Caillet, Desperately Human

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