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Elizabeth Yoo x Alain Robbe-Grillet

What do you get when you cross one masterful filmmaker with another masterful artist? You get more art, of course! I recently chatted to the talented creative, Elizabeth Yoo, about her recent work that uses the erotic cinema of Alain Robbe-Grillet as muse. Yoo’s expressive artwork is a treat on its own but, incase you are yet to meet, let me introduce you to Robbe-Grillet in the clip below. Yoo’s interview and artwork follows.

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about your series of paintings based on the films of Alain Robbe-Grillet. I’ve actually never seen his films, as embarrassing as it is to say, but I’ll definitely be checking them out soon. 

It was the first series I’d ever done and it was also the first time I’d picked up a paintbrush in several years. But I guess I needed that long hiatus from making art in order for me to expand my frame of reference, collect my inspirations, see what my true interests really were. This series was kind of a rebirth for me. Through painting my interpretations of these scenes from the first four films Robbe-Grillet directed (L’Immortelle, Trans-Europ-Express, The Man Who Lies, Eden and After), I was coming into my own. I felt like I was finally freed from inhibitions. These paintings are not just scenes from films—I also see them as self-portraits. They communicate my own desires. Although more widely known as a writer, pioneer of the nouveau roman (“new novel”), and a screenwriter, his films deserve to have a wider audience. I’m drawn to the ambiguity of his films– the line between reality and fantasy is indistinguishable. And of course, I’m drawn to the sadomasochistic eroticism and this desire mixed with fear present in most of his films.

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What about sexuality in art do you find appealing? Who are artists that you feel perfect the art of eroticism? I’ve always loved Egon Schiele and you can find newcomer Kaethe Butcher on most erotic art sites, she’s taking the world by storm.

Egon Schiele is definitely one of my favourite artists. His aggressive, expressionistic style heightens the eroticism of his paintings. The angular bodies, the bones jutting out, pale skin marked by bright spots of red or blue that look like smears, eyes looking directly at the viewer, intertwined lovers: you really feel the energy. Another favorite painter of mine is Balthus, whose style is kind of the opposite of Schiele—there’s a calmness and a stillness to the figures in his paintings. There are defined, domestic backgrounds unlike Schiele’s work which has all this negative space. Kaethe Butcher is fantastic. Her style is incredibly provocative and I love the way she incorporates text into her drawings.

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You use a limited colour palate in your work, does this act as a vehicle to explore darker undertones in your subjects? Or is it purely an aesthetic/style preference? 

I think I express myself better in black and white than in colour. Black is the colour of nighttime and sensuality—perfect for my subject matter. I don’t have to think as much when using only black paint and ink—I can transmit all my raw emotions onto the paper without hesitation or forethought; spontaneity is key in my work. When I use colour, I’m usually drawn to bright, primary colours– but I worry if the colours will work together. Sometimes the cheerful colours contrast with my dark themes— I like that disparity.

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Eros And After: Pleasure & Pain in the Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet was your first solo exhibition. How did you find the process? Was selecting the final work for display difficult or are you a total planner? How did outcomes meet expectations? 

Originally, I was going to paint scenes from several more of his films. But due to lack of time, I ended up only doing his first four films—and I like that limited focus. I’m happy with how I ended up with twenty paintings. The perfect symmetry: we hung ten paintings from the ceiling on one side and ten on the other. I tend to over-plan and since it was my first show, a lot of stress was definitely involved! But I was very happy to see that people who came to my exhibit understood the work and saw how powerful and in control of their sexuality the women in the paintings are.

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Your second exhibition is underway as I write this. How does this compare with your first exhibition? 

The audience is very different and the way in which my paintings were exhibited is also very different. The walls of the gallery at my second exhibition are coloured (blue, orange, and magenta) so I feel like that becomes part of the artworks and changes how they look, which is interesting. At my first exhibit at Holyrad Studio in Brooklyn, we showed one of Robbe-Grillet’s films during the reception—so the audience (mostly twenty-something year olds) got a really full experience. At my second exhibit at Home Art Gallery in Long Island– it’s a suburban area and it’s an area with people of all ages, so the reaction was a bit different. Most of the Robbe-Grillet paintings were shown, as well as other artworks of mine with thematic and stylistic similarities. Most of the people at both exhibits had never seen a Robbe-Grillet film—so it was a pleasure for me to introduce them! I was able to meet Robbe-Grillet’s widow (and a very famous dominatrix in France) Catherine Robbe-Grillet twice shortly after my show and she told me I was “converting” people into “Alain fans”—so my work was done!

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How important do you think exhibiting work is as an artist, especially given the plethora of online spaces art can be showcased these days?

I think it’s extremely important because you don’t get a real sense of the size, texture, and detail in a work of art unless you see it in person. I like to stand for a long time in front of an artwork when I’m at a gallery because I try to see the artist’s process: the brushstrokes they made, how many layers of paint they used, etc. It’s a totally different experience, too, seeing an entire series or a body of work in a gallery—you’re totally in that artist’s world and there’s almost a private communion between you and the artworks. Online,you may get a more scattered, incomplete experience.

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You obviously love film. Can you recommend five films and/or directors to us? 

Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Trans-Europ-Express (which I screened at my first show) is very playful and sexy—about a film-within-a-film. A director (played by Alain Robbe-Grillet himself), a script supervisor (played by his wife Catherine), and a producer, riding the Trans-Europ-Express from Paris to Antwerp, discuss ideas for a crime movie about a man who will travel on the same train they are on. This character, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, smuggles cocaine into Antwerp and becomes involved with a prostitute played by Marie-France Pisier. The two have daytime trysts involving sadomasochisticplay that eventually become fatal.

Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. Melville is my absolute favourite director—a Frenchman who loved American gangster films and film noir, like me—this film stars my favourite actor Alain Delon playing a quiet hit man who follows the code of a samurai.

Roger Vadim’s Barbarella: Jane Fonda in some of the sexiest costumes ever. I adore her combination of innocence and total lack of shame about her sexuality. Campy fun. Shirley Clarke’s The Connection. I worked with director Immy Humes on an upcoming documentary about Shirley, who was an independent filmmaking rebel. My favourite film of Clarke’s is about a group of jazz musicians jamming in this Greenwich Village apartment as they wait for their drug dealer to come. A documentary film crew shoots them and it raises all sorts of questions about “realism.”

Agnès Varda’s Le Bonheur—absolutely beautiful, colourful film about a happily married couple, which takes a devastating turn after the man cheats on his wife. I really love the disparity between the colours and this dark undercurrent.

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From your website I can see you are a total all-rounder when it comes to creativity! I love this. I also dabble in many art/creation forms. I’ve often felt the pressure to pick one art-form to focus on and excel in. Can you relate to similar concepts? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by having such an active mind? 

I often do feel very overwhelmed! I have terrible insomnia due to my overactive mind. I often do most of my work into the night because I have no sense of time passing. My other passion besides painting is writing. I write very dark, twisted noir stories, psychological thrillers—a bit like Patricia Highsmith—and stories that fuse eroticism with horror. Once I am completely happy with my stories (I’m too much of a perfectionist which is why it takes me so long to complete a story!) I will eventually post them on my website with an illustration to accompany each story. My goal is to find a way to link my love of visual art with my writing.

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See more of Elizabeth’s work on her website.

June – Elsa Isabella

Visual Female of the Month for June (yes, it’s still June) is Sydney-based artist, Elsa Isabella. I featured Elsa on The Visual Female many moons ago, showcasing her amazing skills at drawing tiny beauties. Since then, Elsa has been dedicated to her craft and journey as an artist. I wanted to get to know more and, of course, share it all with you. You can read the inspiring interview here.

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May – Claire Doyle

Visual Female of the Month for May is the fearless feminist, Claire Doyle. Claire is a multi-faceted artist from England whose work looks at gender and the body. This month I got to know more about the eloquent and passionate woman that is Claire Doyle. And you can too.

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April – Marta Julia Piórko

Visual Female of the Month for April is the amazingly talented Marta Julia Piórko. Marta’s art is really fascinating. Her realistic style showcases animals and humans, sometimes interacting in interesting ways, and allows us to remember our own creativity as humans. You can check out the interview here.

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Wonder

“You can’t let your curiosity die”

As The Visual Female developed I began including videos under the Move Monday section to embrace the moving image as well as the still. While those clips are highly driven by the visual – largely music videos – today I have something different (and amazing) to share. Wonder is a short documentary about last months Visual Female, Gina Martynova, directed by Jesse Brass as part of his ‘Making Art’ series.

Wonder is put together really well, allowing viewers to form a connection with Gina and gain more understanding of what she (and Starry) believe in. For Gina it is all about curiosity, the beauty in the fact that there is always more to discover in this world. You’ll have to watch to learn about Starry, but she seems pretty cool too. Wonder shows us Gina in her work and living space as well as beautiful close-ups of her art, something you can’t experience by simply seeing her work on the internet. This tasteful documentary is definitely worth a watch. And the best bit, Jesse has already made a bunch of films about other artists, some of which I am going to get stuck into now – the pink hues of Jen Mann are calling me in. So make a cup of tea (even if it’s hot outside) and relax while you get to know a few of the many amazing artists in the world bringing us joy through beauty.

You may also like…

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March – Lizzy Anderson

Visual Female of the Month for March is the lovely Lizzy Anderson of And Lizzy. Lizzy’s music and film inspired illustrations have a beautiful dreamy nature to them and each piece uses colour and line to create a strong mood relating to the artist involved. With soft hues and a general yumminess, Lizzy’s art is something you definitely must check out. Get to know more about her and her art at this months interview! xx

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February – Gina Martynova

Visual Female of the Month for February is the beautiful and talented Gina Martynova. Not only a total babe, Gina is involved in both art and fashion with her whimsical energy translating to her feminine artwork that blends fantasy and reality. Gina is the creator of ‘Starry World’ – a place for her to express her unique cultural upbringing and ever-present day dreams. To learn more about Starry World check out this post, for this months interview click here.

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January – Janine Shroff

Visual Female of the Month is back for 2015. To kick off the year I talk with the super talented Janine Shroff. Her amazing artwork and illustration is packed with opinion, politics, humour and colour. So take a look and enjoy this thought-provoking interview here.

Photo by Nikhil Hemranjani

December – Lucy Yu

Visual Female for the month of December is the talented illustrator and artist, Lucy Yu. Originally from New Zealand, Lucy now lives and works in Melbourne. But I thought it would be nice to end the year with an artist from my homeland, and Melbourne is still pretty close. What a year it has been – so many amazing interviews each month as my Visual Female’s continue to impress!

Lucy’s work is ultra feminine and dreamy, with beautiful women and animals combined to perfection. Take a look here. I look forward to sharing more great interviews in 2015! Until then, stay cool and keep supporting artists in any way you can! xx

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November – Meloncholy

Visual Female for the month of November is the talented artist that goes by the name Meloncholy. Her work is fun and creative with a psychedelic energy that will let your mind wander. Connecting music with detailed illustration, Meloncholy’s artwork is truly captivating. Take a look at her style, as well as her engaging interview here. You won’t be disappointed! xx

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October – Babi Tubelo

Visual Female for the month of October is the talented artist and illustrator, Babi Tubelo. Babi’s art is whimsical and wonderful, with a dreamy, feminine energy. Born in Brazil, Babi incorporates her own culture into her work as well as drawing inspiration from Japanese prints and her love of Cubism. Check out the interview here.

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September – Alejandra Sáenz

Visual Female for the month of September is up today for your viewing pleasure. Alejandra Sáenz is a talented graphic designer and illustrator from Venezuela. Her emotive, dark art is strong and captivating and well worth checking out. Get to know Alejandra a little more by reading her interview here.

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August – Kaethe Butcher

Visual Female for the month of August is up on this fine Friday (yay, weekend!). Super-talented illustrator, Kaethe Butcher, is answering my questions for August. Her black and white illustrations are compelling, erotic and well worth checking out. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get to know Butcher and her inspirations a little bit better. You can check out the interview here.

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July – Elia Fernandez

Visual Female for the month of July is up today for your viewing pleasure. Elia Fernandez is a talented artist with a very interesting mind! Her emotive, soulful art matches her outlook on life which is all about making the most of the world around us. Have a read and deepen your knowledge like Elia would want you to do!

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June – Natalie Foss

Visual Female for the month of June is up today for your viewing pleasure. This month I feature the super-talented Natalie Foss. An amazing illustrator from Norway, Natalie’s work is unique and evocative. Check out her work and the interview here. You won’t regret it! xx

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May – Jessica Singh

Visual Female for the month of May is up today for your viewing pleasure. Jessica Singh is a super talented illustrator with a great mind and lots of interesting things to say! Not only is the interview worthwhile, but all the links Jessica wanted to share are also pretty rad (I should know, I have been browsing them and getting into a link-click web of inspiration! Tab overload). So, if you feel like some enlightenment, looking at visual treats and perhaps wasting away your afternoon (in the best way possible) then it is time to get reading!

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April – Megan Mai

Visual Female for the month of April is up today! This month I talk to Canadian model, Megan Mai. A beauty inside and out, it was a pleasure to connect with Megan who has been excelling in the modeling scene over the last few years. Check out the read here.

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March – Abbey Watkins

Visual Female for the month of March is up today! Abbey Watkins is an amazing illustrator and print designer whose mysterious work is entirely captivating and always executed impeccably. It was a pleasure to get to know more about this talented lady, enjoy the read here.

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February – Chloe Sawyer

It’s that wonderful time again. Yes, the time to share the thoughts of another talented lady with a connection to art. This month it’s Chloe Sawyeran artist with a love of lines, whimsical nature and our humanity. To check out Chloe’s work and read her interview (a pretty inspiring and truthful read) then click on this link.

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January – Emma Livingstone

The first Visual Female of the Month is up for 2014!

Super excited to kick off the year with the fascinatingly in-your-face work of Emma Livingstone aka Emetic Art. 

A talented young woman with a great future, Em’s work is refreshing in its vibrancy and combination of cute and not-so-cute. To see what I am talking about, head along and check out her art and interview here.

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December

The final Visual Female of the Month for year splendid year 2013 is up now! For my final inspiring woman, Miss December, I talked to designer Sasha Melnik about her new fashion brand as well as all the usual visually minded questions.

Her work is pretty damn awesome, and I think I might have to get a piece myself (I just have to decide which one!) If you are like me and interested in getting something then make use of the 20% DISCOUNT Sasha is offering to my readers (yes, fantastic!!!) by using the PROMO CODE: VISUAL FEMALE at her shop.

So happy to wrap up the year with such a stylish and lovely lady!

I have really enjoyed doing my Visual Female of the Month section and love networking with other talented, creative ladies. I plan to continue doing this feature next year. Thanks for reading and supporting The Visual Female’s quest for aesthetic inspiration!

Stay cool. Read Sasha’s interview, and invest in a cool sweatshirt!! x

November

Visual Female of the Month for November is up. This month I share the art of the lovely Candace McKay (no relation!). Candace is a 19-year-old self-taught artist, whose work is feminine and fun – think vibrant colours and fantasy settings with beautiful, intriguing women. I really lover her style and find it quite distinctive and unique. I hope you all enjoy it too. To check out her work and read her interview click here. 

On another note, there is only one more Visual Female of the Month left for this year. I know, can you believe it?! How time flies. I’ll be keeping an eye out and hoping to showcase someone special for December. If you know anyone whose work just blows your mind, let me know! I love to discover new art and artists.

October

Visual Female of the Month for October is up. This month I share the art and thoughts of Romanian graphic designer, artist and fashion illustrator, Anca Pora. Ancas work is feminine, organic and really quite beautiful. I especially love her Alison Harvard inspired piece – such a stunner. I agreed with some of Ancas answers, especially when it comes to comparing graphic design with art and illustration. It seems we are a bit similar. Make sure to check out the full interview here. Enjoy the read, and get inspired.

Be happy, be great.

September

Just in time to make it in as September, Visual Female of the Month is ready to read! This month I check in with the lovely and talented, Morgan Connoley.  An Australian illustrator and graphic designer, Morgan creates wonderfully refined pieces that have the perfect balance between careful detail and empty space. Her work is mainly available as art prints, but she also has some product collaborations. Her skull candles are pretty divine and worth getting your hands on (if you can).

Make sure to read September to see what Morgan has to say as well as checking out her awesome illustrations. It is so important to support artists. I know how hard it can be to keep motivated and producing, and some days you can feel like ‘what is the point’? But reading Morgans interview (especially her final advice) should remind any creatives to keep working at what you love.

Enjoy the final day of September xx

August

Visual Female of the Month is up! This month I check in with the wonderful water-colour artist Kelly McKernan. So if you want to see some good art and some inspiring thoughts, you must read her interview. Kelly was so professional to deal with, you can really tell she takes her art profession seriously. I love that about people! Maybe it’s something I should take on board a little more… Hah. But anyway, read Miss August, Miss Kelly McKernan, right now! (Or else your brain might shrink a little… well it won’t expand a little). Enjoy the weekend lovely readers xx

July

Visual Female of the Month is up ready to go, or should I say read. For July I showcase an art student, whose latest exhibition got me rather excited. There was interesting subject matter and clever execution that enhanced the message of the piece. Nothing quite like a bit of smart art. Sacha McDougall will be keeping my interest as she works towards an art career in New Zealand. Have a read, and you’ll be proud to say you got to know her before anybody else did.

Enjoy the read, and enjoy the weekend. I know I will x

June

Visual Female of the Month is up and waiting to be read. For the month of June I interview Rosie Herdman, a New Zealand model. She’s very talented and stunning, so check out the interview and accompanying images to see what this lady can do. Rosie was a pleasure to interact with and I wish her all the best in the rest of her (very promising) career.

Also, if you, or anyone you know seem like a good candidate for Visual Female of the Month, then please get in touch with me via my email located on my About page.

May

Visual Female of the Month is up! Make sure to check out the interview with Miss May – my dear friend Jessie Bush, the face behind the successful blog, We The People. Jessie is such a talent and I’m so glad to know her, even if she is on the other side of the world! Make sure you click on the link to read the interview and get to know more about Jessie and We The People.

Also, if you, or anyone you know seem like a good candidate for Visual Female of the Month, then please get in touch with me via my email located on my About page.

April

It’s that time again! Check out my fourth Visual Female of the Month, Miss Olga Noes.

Olga is an amazing artist with some interesting perspectives to bring to the table, so, like all my interviews so far, it is worth a read. It is so great getting to know some amazingly talented women out there. Olga was so professional and helpful, so if you want to commission a piece through her I can guarantee she will do you proud.

On another note, I am always looking out for candidates for my Visual Female of the Month section, so if you know anyone, or would like to be interviewed yourself (sorry boys) then get in touch via my email.

Enjoy the weekend and stay happy x

March

Time for the third Visual Female of the Month! For March I got in touch with Wesley Bird – a hugely talented artist and graphic designer whom it was a pleasure to get to know a bit better. She is the type of person that inspires me to keep at my graphic design and stay true to my aesthetic. I decided a few days ago that I am going to start my own clothing company where I create designs to be printed on t-shirts and dresses etc. And while this may take a long time to get off the ground, refreshing my memory of Wesley’s work and achievements gave me more motivation and belief in myself. Enjoy the read and discovering Wesley’s diverse range of art and design!

February

My Visual Female of the Month for February is up. Make sure to check it out. It’s a really great read with lots of perceptive and inspiring answers. So it is not to be missed.

On another note, my computer had to go to hospital (he’s better now though, thank goodness!), so I apologise for the lack of posts.  I’ll make up for it this week I promise! Stay awesome xx

New Year, New Feature

So it’s a new year and I have added a new feature to celebrate.  You can find it as a new tab called Visual Female of the Month.  

Miss January is up today so check it out and get to know my creative and interesting friend Carolyn.

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