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Diaphanous forms, ethereal lines and pastel colours. The Düsseldorf-based artist Vivian Greven works at the interface between figurative, conceptual and abstract art, delivering her own visual language. The idealization and smoothness of her digital perception of the subject deliver a contemporary look on established painting or sculptural compositions from Classical art. If you happen to be in Paris, you’ve got until the 12th of April to admire her distinct oeuvre at Galerie Vallois.
Vivian, since you graduated from the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 2015, your works have been shown in international exhibitions, including the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, the Sammlung Philara Düsseldorf, Providence College Galleries Providence, the Braunsfelder Family Collection Cologne, and the Salzburger Kunstverein. What is it about creating that drew you as an artist?
I think human nature is fertile. Creating seems to be the most genuine force to me.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of pursuing an artistic career?
It is always challenging to find the balance between body, mind and soul.
You are known to be working at the interface between figurative, conceptual and abstract painting. What does your art pretend to reflect from the contemporary subject-perception in the digital age?
I am interested in connectivity. How do we get in contact? How do we look at each other, how do we touch each other? How does it feel to touch through a digital screen?
By creating ethereal paintings that allure the divine beauty and love, your artwork seems to be directly influenced by the Classical Greco-Roman art. Has it always been your main source of inspiration? What is the idea behind your portrayal of perfect beauty and your ‘artificial creation of bodies’?
Classical Greco-Roman art developed an optimized idea of bodies. I see a strong connection with our ways of creating perfect bodies. We are addicted to perfect outer appearance. Perfect skin, perfectly slim, optimized bodies. In that way, we have not changed throughout the centuries. I think that is fascinating, as the pursuit of perfect beauty has probably never made anyone happy. My work concentrates on the discrepancy between the beautiful surface and the pain of the body underneath.
I have read that Antonio Canova and Gian Lorenzo Bernini are great inspirations for your creativity. However, who are the contemporary artists you can’t take your eyes off?
There are many. Alice Tippit, Ed Atkins, Helmut Dorner, Mevlana Lipp, Stefan Löffelhardt, Louise Giovanelli, Jordan Kasey, Lambert Maria Wintersberger, Natascha Schmitten, Benjamin Houlihan, Shannon Bool, Ridley Howard, etc.
Starting from classical art but deriving from it by playing with repetition, colour and isolation of particular parts of the body, you create a modern language that renders a contemporary look. How would you describe your artistic process? What can’t be missing in one of your art pieces?
I am always searching for the point where my inner force feels that the outer world (represented by the painting) resonates with it.
What’s the connection between mythology and your work? And religion?
I like stories. These stories are our stories. They help me to understand what it means to be an ‘I’.
Your canvases are dominated by androgynous figures that represent human relationships. Your painterly style in the movements and gestures adds an erotic feel that along with pastel colours and ethereal lines strengthens the viewer’s attraction. What’s the moral behind your refusal to gender depiction?
I would not say that I have a certain moral in that context. I just like to depict my figures as representations of human beings in general.
Ladies Only is the exhibition in Galerie Vallois in Paris, curated by Barbara Soyer and Sophie Toulouse, stated to be in response to Jacques Villeglé’s display, Jeune, Gay et Impudique, and his series of sexy posters from the late 1980s. A group exhibition, on display until the 12th of April, that desires to put the women really forward by presenting a selection of works that explore the question of desire from a completely different viewpoint. How do your art pieces deal with gender politics?
My work is about love. It is about the longing for an unconditional yes to every existence. I think gender politics share this vision.
Ladies Only showcases your work next to Pilar Albarracín, Bianca Argimón, Lauren Coullard, Aurélie Gravas, Lucie Picandet and Niki de Saint Phalle. What have you learnt from the artists you’ve crossed paths with along your journey as an artist?
Be with an open heart and with a sword in your hand.
What’s been your major career highlight so far?
My growing independence.
Any other projects and exhibitions you’re currently working on?
I am currently preparing my upcoming solo show at Kadel Willborn in Düsseldorf.