[BLOG NOTE: This exhibition is over.]
Didier Lourenço was immensely popular at the opening reception of his Singapore debut at Barnadas Huang gallery.
I imagine everyone was asking him about the girl with the large eyes that appears in every one of his paintings – including one where you are invited to seek her out among a crowd.
I spied my own chance to speak with the Catalan artist when he was posing for the photographer in front of the mysterious girl, this time on a bicycle, displayed in a smaller separate building opposite to the main exhibition area – where a 2-by-2 metre canvas takes centre stage; just her, no crowds no bicycles, brought to live with oil, on a black background, outlined with what looks like red chalk.
But no, it’s oil, the gallery owners assured me. The 46-year-old artist certainly has a way with the medium, the finished effect sometimes resembling chalk, sometimes peeled paint.
I approached, just as Lourenço “comes out” of his pose.
Tell us about your family.
My parents grew up in France – my father was born in Portugal, my Mother in Spain, but with the civil war in Spain, their families had to leave for France. When they got married they went back to Spain, and I was born there.
And how did you get started in art?
I learn the trade of lithography from my father. A tedious process, preparing the silk screen, long hours… But I wanted to make my own art, so I started painting in a corner of my studio. Self-taught, 25 years I have been painting.
Is there an artist who inspires you?
I‘m influenced by many painters, each has his particular interest. But If I have to pick one, Pablo Picasso for his creativity, a guy who never stops creating, sometimes the same story but in a different way.
What direction will your future works take?
As we get older, we want our lives more simple, and we become more abstract in a certain way. That’s a normal progression in my opinion. But I think my work is going to try to say more with less.
You selected some songs to accompany your works for this exhibition, does music play a big part in your life?
My favourite songs are related with things in my life. Like now we are listening to Joan Manuel Serrat (the Spanish singer’s 1971 hit Mediterráneo), who is a Catalan, and he is talking about the Mediterranean which is from I come from. When I’m painting I listen to anything. It’s many hours in the studio, the music sometimes I don’t listen, it’s just atmospheric. It’s difficult to pick 15 songs and say “That’s the one!”
Who is that girl?
I wish she was real, but she exists in my mind. I see her everywhere.
I had imagined a rather different response. But as I concluded my interview with Lourenço, a Joan Manuel Serrat song plays in the background. He sings of a sailor’s romantic love and the love for his homeland, I couldn’t help but wonder if Lourenço’s paintings speak of a parallel where a Catalonian girl disturbs a flutter of butterflies as she rushes home on her bicycle to feed her hungry cats.
[Pics courtesy of Barnadas Huang gallery]