Born in 1990, Chloe Breil Dupont is well-travelled, but her paintings express something else that the popular aesthetics of globalisation. Her visual identity is still being shaped. I found it extremely interesting to receive her answers as between the lines, one reads the will to paint and to discover her medium. To paint is embark on a journey with painting and with the history of our medium. She has this very much in mind. After residencies in Paris, Puducherry and working travel in Brazil and Norway, she now lives in Carrara in Tuscany. She answered my questions. www.chloebreildupont.com
KALTBLUT: How do you start your day?
I get up at 7 am, dress as if I’m going to shoot with Fellini, drink a coffee and go to my studio. I chose to live in Tuscany, in a historic city that is a bit deserted, which has allowed me to have a large studio adjacent to my flat.
The most basic condition for me to paint is that I can switch straight from my bed to paint. It’s impossible to talk to someone, go outside or do anything else before painting. I’m very square about it.
KALTBLUT: If you were to paint one thing over and over what would it be?
Well, I guess hands! To be honest, I already feel like I’m painting things over and over: Folds and twists at different densities. Although my painting is figurative, I have a very abstract vision of it. I understand painting not only as surfaces that interlock but clearly as distortions of the elements in relation to each other forming a complex with variable opacity and limpness.
KALTBLUT: Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do on the openings?
Yes, of course. Exhibitions are crucial moments, steps to make a practice grow and evolve. I like to be very isolated for months and, on end, suddenly talk to a lot of people during the exhibitions. Openings are both stressful because I have a little social anxiety and also terribly exciting and joyful in the effusion of feelings. It’s also a time to start new projects and meet people while you’re sort of naked in front of them.
KALTBLUT: What is your favourite place to think about a new painting?
All-day long, I remain attentive to what I find beautiful, horrific, weird, delicate, remarkable in short. A shape, a texture, an ambient, a gesture, a hue, an element of history…
I have dozens of notebooks full of words and little drawings (last page: cracked tooth, right hand in a blouse, bee velvet, light on an alizarin button, sugar cube and water, dried blood on the wall). Concerning my precise favourite place to think of a new painting: I would have liked to be a “walk thinker”, but I’m a “bed thinker”. I build up my paintings lying on my bed or on the tile floor in my room.
KALTBLUT: What is your relation to past painters, and history of art?
My relation to some past painters is strong as it is with some contemporary painters. I love to know their life contexts, their protocols and their rituals.
Half of my family is Catalan and I have an ambiguous connection to Dalí. As if he were a great uncle with whom I share the same devotion but with whom I politically totally disagree. I know his house in Portlligat by heart and that has given me many painting tips.
Such as paying attention to the colours I place in my studio so I am not pushed, by a quest for balance, to use the complementary colour on the canvas ( if there is a lot of green, the paint will tend to orange etc.).
I practice the technique of oil painting in a succession of glazes, so I guess it’s due to my appetence for the Renaissance and the Flemish painters of the 15th century. I really like reading about Van Eyck and Bronzino’s techniques.
Regarding the history of art, I see it as a dance that stretches over time. I like to see aesthetic choices become resistances, even sometimes micro-resistances, to the aesthetics of the norm.
KALTBLUT: Which question would you like to ask your painting Idol?
I have no specific question in mind. I would have preferred to integrate ateliers to see painters at work, like Anne Vallayer-Coster painting shells, Pieter Claesz apprehending highlights, Hildegard von Bingen conveying her messages, Leonardo da Vinci examining the interconnection of elements, Lê Phô using lacquer, Agnolo Bronzino and Ingres creating flesh, Domenico Gnoli sketching, Félix Vallotton choosing his colours etc.
KALTBLUT: How did you develop this work you’re doing now?
At this moment, I’m polishing the skin of Plato’s Atlantis. I started this painting in early April. The technique of the layers in ‘fat over lean’ is quite long so I often spend several months on a painting. Regarding the composition, it was thought as a scenography.
Rebecca, a great musician and a friend of mine modelled. She was in a period of total interest for anarchy and the Paris Commune, and me, on the hacker ethics. On Plato’s Atlantis, we can see two small paintings, I call these elements “cassettes”. They operate as ex-votos and enable me to summon invisible presences on the painting.
Rebecca’s right hand is in her shirt. The hand in a blouse is a sign of power found in many portraits of men (as in the portrait of Monsieur Rivière by Ingres) and I felt like seeing it exercised by a woman. In the background, is a church mosaic representing the celestial sky, but it is only a wall because behind it is the night and the rising moon that makes the grass on which she is sitting grow. I develop my paintings, usually as a narrative, also inspired by the books I like
KALTBLUT: How did you meet your favourite collector?
In 2017, during an open studio at la Villa Belleville in Paris. It’s a couple. Since this first encounter, we have a strong bond and dense communication.
KALTBLUT: Why do we still paint in 2020?
For the same reasons why we still dance in 2020! Painting is a way of thinking with its internal codes. Painting thinks but doesn’t think with words. ‘E Cosa mentale’. Some people learn to read the symbols that are letters and understand the language of writing. Some people learn to read painting and understand the language of painting. In painting as in literate language, there are many different idioms.
The painting says things about the world that a text, a photograph, a sculpture, a piece of music or whatever does not say whether in 467 bC or in 2020.
KALTBLUT: Where is Painting heading?
Arf! I don’t know for the shape of it but for sure where people are not dead inside. Can you tell me 3 colleagues whose work you admire? Even though I don’t know them personally I’m very moved by the work of Thomias Radin, Emma Steinkraus and Jordan Kasey.