Romance, Humanity and Creativity with Garance Vallée
Tell us a bit about how your passion for architecture and the arts was born. Did you grow up in an artistic family or environment and did that affect your choice in becoming an artist later on?
I grew up in the painting studio of my father Kriki, between paints and Punk music. I began to draw and create objects near him. My love of the straight line results unmistakably in his hand. My parents raised us, my brother and I, in this arty lifestyle. My mother, who studied art history, made me work on my culture as much as she could, teaching me to have this thirst of "knowledge" which participates in my creativity today.
So I started to create in a artistic environment since I was a kid. I grew up between the artist’s studio of my father and my mother’s artistic literary world. They are my first sources of inspiration. I owe them this open- mindedness. They’re the ones who shaped my artistic eye. I’ve always drawn and built little objects in my father’s studio. Now I’m in my studio with my fiancé in the center of Paris, and this romantic atmosphere we create together is the most important for my creativity.
Did you always feel sculpture, painting and drawing were your favourite media to convey your art?
It’s hard to find the real balance between the vision you have and the mediums you are using. That’s why I always come through different medium for a same idea. And repeat it sometimes. Starting from an object, draw it alone or in a specific space, make a little model, testing the materials, do it in real. Or it could be inverse, sometimes I like to fall in love with a matter or a medium and looking at how I can use it.
What is your favourite material to work with?
Concrete ! I often consider my objects as small architecture. That’s why I love using real construction material. There is an interesting contrast between my small feminine body and this hard material to work with, heavy and stiff.
Talk us through your creative process: does it start with a sketch and ends in sculpture always?
I think to create a piece it’s not much about the time but more about the process... I can work on an idea for one year but never find the good time, material, desire or event to create it. I like to use everything, I’m not locked in one technique or one inspiration current. To me, experimentation is primary. I like it. Testing things, seeing they don’t work, trying and trying again, and sometimes trying once, succeeding, and never being able to recreate it again. It’s the magic of experimentation. Thanks to my architecture studies, I’m currently receiving training in scenography which helped me find my way of presenting my world, stage my drawings and objects. Every staging of a drawing becomes an installation itself.
Living between NYC and Paris must have been quite inspiring. How did it affect your work?
New York was a revelation to myself. I worked at an architecture agency called LOT- EK, with beautiful people. They pushed me to give everything I have to offer to the world. They showed me that art is definitely a lifestyle. Everything is a creation: walking, eating, talking, and even being. Even if we’re not practicing any art, the way we see things, the way we pay attention and are sensitive about everything is what define ourselves. They deeply changed my creative process. I was very rigid and wanted to control everything in my work and now I let my feelings have more of an influence on my work. I always started my process with experimentation.
Also, it was my first time in NYC, so I started to see things around, be more attentive and sensitive. Wherever I am, I can’t help but write or scribble down something really quickly when an idea comes to my mind. I also go to some places because I like their ambience, their architecture, because they inspire me... Even music or clothes are a source of inspiration. It’s a whole, an everyday lifestyle. It creates your own artist personality. In my everyday life, I’m a very romantic person and Ada, one of the lovely directors of LOT-EK, helped me to show it in my work so people can feel it too.
Was there a particular reason you decided to stay in Paris and do you feel like the city or the environment you live in affect your artworks?
Paris is my heart’s city, you know. I grew up here and I still think its the most beautiful city in the world after all of my travel. Paris definitely affect my artwork but more in the way to do it. I work my objects from the beginning to the end. No industrialisation. It's more about feeling, a sculpture. No matter if it’s useful or not. It is maybe a cliché but the Parisian artist who draws at a café terrasse, I really do it when the sun comes up! I like looking a long time at the beautiful details of the city. A particular moment with a special light, architecture, people, style...
Is there any project you are particularly proud of or want to talk to us about?
I recently did an installation for Milan Design Week, in the office of Martina Gamboni, Strategic Footprints, in Milan. It was my very first big event around my work and Martina gave me such a great opportunity that I can thank her enough. I presented an installation called TERRA about the earth imagery. It’s new interior for the meeting room, created from refined handmade pieces, such as wooden chairs, concrete stools, vessels, mirrors and many other furnishings combined with a exposure of branded decor, selected from some of the main galleries of Milan. A meeting room perceived as a symbolic space in which the Terra collection represents humanity and its experience of matter: an entity composed of multiple levels (clay, terracotta, sand, grass or gravel) suggesting the various layers of Mother Earth, a symbol of our primordial nature and the ethnic differences that have always been part of its essence.
If you had chosen any other career or lifestyle, what would it have been?
I've always wanted to be a dancer! I did ballet for ten years and hip-hop for six years dance to explore my body. But life decided other things, but during my architecture studies and my work today, I always prefer talking about the gesture instead of the meaning. I would like to invoke in someone a way of discovering the architecture with their body with their senses and not only with their eyes and the aesthetic of a place. Humanity: it’s always my first creative point.