We had a chat with artist Julie Duray from Mons, Belgium. She specialises in painting, but enjoys mixing techniques to create unique and compelling pieces. Fond of printmaking, she has created her own large scale printing tool, which you can see the use of in many of her creations. Read on to find out more.
Growing up in an artistic family, Julie Duray develops an early interest for the vast art world. Homely mother-daughter “arts and crafts workshops are without a doubt what got me into art” she states.
Her scholastic art education starts at the Ursulinnes in Mons where she opts for the artistic path. She tells me that in Belgium, “the end of secondary education is when you can choose your class options to be more scientific, social, artistic etc… but that the art classes remain very basic”. She then attends Arts2, still in Mons, for 5 years.
After trying out many different disciplines such as photography, drawing and printmaking, she specialises in painting. “It’s more a question of affinity, because I’ve tried a bit of everything. It’s not that I have a preference, it’s just all completely different. Whenever I work with my printmaking for example, it relaxes me; having my lino, looking for shapes and carving them, it just soothes me.” She later tells me that she switches to “airplane mode” whenever she is creating.
Airplane Mode: What artists influence and inspire you for your creations?
Julie Duray: I’m inspired by many artists, I don’t have a particularly favourite one. That being said, I’m very interested in Daniel Buren‘s work. His use of the single vertical line, a simple shape, is amazing to me. The way he reproduces it in many different sizes, colours and positions in space. I feel close to him as an artist because my technique is quite similar, in the way that I use geometric shapes. I find it crazy how he can create such eye-catching pieces with just a simple line. He inspires me a lot. I wrote my dissertation on him in my last year, which made me discover a lot of similarities between his and my work.
When she finds herself out of inspiration, she wanders around any exhibition. Seldom forgetting to take the catalog home with her, which she will browse any time her inspiration runs dry again.
She describes her work as “colourful and fragmented” which principally involves the juxtaposition of shapes and motifs. As she produces abstract pieces, she doesn’t follow any particular themes; “just shapes and colours that I try to combine. If I see an interesting shape, I will try to create a motif from it. When I find myself short of inspiration, I look around me and analyse the shapes.”
Another interest of hers, science, brings about a lot of new ideas for her art. “I’m someone who loves to discover and learn new things. Obviously science is a broad subject, just like art, but a cell under the microscope is just an assembly of colours and shapes.” Watching documentaries and doing some research allows her to discover new subject matters, which she doesn’t always comprehend; “and that is where the imagination comes in. My work sees the light in between understanding, and the lack of.”
Airplane Mode: What do you geometric shapes represent for you?
Julie Duray: They are very interesting to me. Geometric shapes are simple yet they are an infinite resource. You can combine, assemble, overlap, contrast, reduce… there’s an infinite amount of ways you can work with them.
Airplane Mode: Have you always been interested in motifs?
Julie Duray: At the start of my studies, I was trying to find my style even though I always knew I wanted to concentrate on abstract. Towards the last year of my masters, when I already had found my style, I had a lesson on motifs and that’s when I had the revelation that that was what I was most interested in.
Through her pieces, she doesn’t wish to convey any deep or subliminal messages. Her work is about visual perception and the way the viewer feels about it. She states “it’s important to let people be free to feel whatever they like, which is why I don’t really like to give meaning behind my work. People should be able to make their own opinions of it. That’s why, just like Buren, I don’t implicate myself personally in my work. I like there to be a distance between the artist and the art.”
Many of her pieces involve a mix of techniques. She found a gap in the market for a large scale printmaking tool, which she consequently built herself. “I noticed that the size of the lino available in shops was limited to A3. However, my idea was to create much larger pieces. I did some research but found that floor lino was too hard and too thick to carve into. My grandmother had some old lino in her attic, which I cut up in all kinds of shapes. I stuck them all on a big plank of wood and simply add the paint which allows me to directly print onto the canvas! I can use it over and over again, just let the paint dry. It’s kind of a piece of art in itself now!”
I asked her about a particular piece of work which seemed different from the rest:
Julie Duray: I put blobs of colour on the canvas, and just rolled over them with paint rollers. That’s what gives the blending effect. I love testing new techniques. Art is a constant search for new ideas and techniques. You have to try lots of different things before getting the result you want.
Airplane Mode: When you start a painting, do you have an idea in mind or do you go about it randomly?
Julie Duray: It depends, sometimes I’ll start something and give up halfway through if I get stuck. I’ll put it aside and come back to it later with a fresh mind and manage to make something out of it. Otherwise I generally have an idea in mind of what I’d like to produce.
Julie works from home, creating piece after piece of organised chaos of colours and shapes. Her attraction to motifs is the main motivation behind her latest project:
Thought of with a friend, this brand is still in the very early stages; tote bags, mugs, t-shirts, badges, even screen savers and backgrounds with interesting shapes and motifs. “I would love to eventually work in design and textile, I just love everything about motifs. For the moment we are still testing the product, we’re still coming up with the concept and seeing if people respond to it.” You can have a look at some of the products on the Instagram and Facebook pages, don’t forget to follow for updates as they come!
Lastly, Julie has been working on some artists’ books in which she once more plays with shapes and colours, transparency and layering. An artist’s book is just like a piece of art, but in book format. When she was researching cells, she made a series of 6 books which she made very small and named Analyse. “I cut up shapes in the pages so as you turned them, they overlapped.” She’s made a small dozen books so far, which she claims are a great way of making art more accessible: “It’s tactile, and reasonably priced. I’m someone who’s very fond of books, so being able to create some is great!”
We can’t wait to see what new creations will come of this wonderfully talented artist. Follow our Facebook page for any upcoming exhibition dates!