For this recent series of small figurative paintings, Julie Beaufils was inspired by the imagery in the Tarot cards.
I selected certain cards for their symbols and meaning. Some of the symbols are very literal, like animals that represent a divine presence. However, I prefer to interpret these in a less literal and more abstract manner. I conceived each of these paintings as pictographs that refer to an idea or a concept. For example, one card is called “The Wheel of Fortune.” While this card has multiple references, I am most interested in the main idea that a given order can be reversed at any moment. This is a general scenario applicable to political, social, or emotional situations. I like the idea of using an image to conceptualize a problem. Each card refers to a group of notions such as strength, resilience, ruin, dependence, etc. The image opens up to a lexical field. In my opinion, studying these groups of words helps to deconstruct the status quo and break it down into parts to understand it better.
I made these oil paintings by adding wax medium to the oil paint and coating them with a mixture of glue and whiting powder to obtain opacity— which gives a smoothness to the surface of the canvas. I prefer to use mainly unmixed colors like primary yellow, and ultramarine blue then transform them by adding other hues like titanium white or sienna. In this way, I remain aware that pigments come from nature, which allows me to anchor my work in the world’s materiality. It also allows me to take a backseat to the materials, for these substances existed in the universe long before humans. I think this approach is similar to a non-anthropocentric way of thinking. As humans, our existence depends on the conservation of our environment, a living entity with which we must coexist without dominating or destroying it.
Since we live in a universe that exceeds us, art is often a way of humanizing this vastness to assimilate it better to put it on our scale. That is why I sometimes feel that an artwork represents an impossible attempt to capture something impalpable, something beyond reach. While I would not say that my work entirely adopts a non-anthropocentric position, I think that there are certain links such as recognizing and accepting the limits of being human.
Julie Beaufils was born in France in 1987. She lives and works in Paris. Beaufils studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at University of Southern California's Roski School of Art in Los Angeles. She has exhibited in various galleries and institutions such as Balice Hertling, Paris ; Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paolo ; La Kunsthalle, Mulhouse ; Overduin & Co, Los Angeles ; Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard, Paris amongst others.
Balice Hertling will open a solo exhibition of her recent works on June 18, 2020.