Alice Demoly is not only a talented French artist living in Guadeloupe, but also a doctor and a mother! This self-taught artist takes us through her colorful and blurry universe thanks to her very own “Island Impressionism” style that she developed—without ever giving up figurative art. Her artwork is intimate, instinctive, and seems to refer to a common souvenir, so real, yet so dreamlike.
C – Who is Alice Demoly? Where are you from? Tell me about yourself.
A – I am from Remoncourt, a little village in the Vosges next to Vittel, but I studied in Nancy. I have always been a little different, dreaming about elsewhere. Two one-month trips, in Malaysia first then in Sri Lanka, persuaded me that it is necessary to move around and sidestep the standard path. I arrived in Guadeloupe randomly and I lived there 2 years—with a 7-month gap in Réunion Island. Afterwards, I travelled 4 months in Southeast Asia and finally settled down here, in Ste Anne (Guadeloupe). I keep travelling whenever I can, to a certain extent of time. If I choose to soak into this variety of cultures, landscapes, beauty, art of living, I crave the abundance of human experience and its underlying simplification.
I’ve considered myself an artist from a very young age, however without truly knowing how to define it. After my high school diploma, I put this part of myself on hold in order to focus on medical school, my job, and my family. Even though art in all shapes and sizes has always been by my side, painting only appeared clearly to me about ten years ago. One day, I stepped through the little gate of Richard Vialatte’s workshop, and so it all began!
“It also comes from a desire for peace, acceptance, and from a poetic outlook, a sublimation of matters—basically, a dreamlike world where I feel in tune with myself.”
C – You have a very unique style: island impressionism that conveys a special atmosphere, feelings, and sensations. We can feel a sensitivity in your work that is expressed through smooth brushstrokes. It is safe to say that your paintings carry us away and cannot stay unnoticed. What inspires you? What are your artistic influences? Tell us about your world.
A – I am completely self-taught. I have absolutely no knowledge of plastic analysis, and barely any in art history. I would say that my relationship with matter contributed a lot to the creation of my universe: I like to let go of my gestures, to intertwine masses and colors on the same canvas—my way of painting is almost visceral. I start working directly on the canvas, with paint, without any prior mockup drawing, only with a “blurry” idea in mind, an ambience, colors. I put down the masses, the lines, I rotate in the space, and when I sense that it’s ready, all I have to do is let it flow.
I like to paint vigorously—thorough drawings bore me, from the creation to the rigid and narrow interpretation that it leads to, even though it can be rewarding. However, representation, through pictorial art, is essential in order to express myself. Hence the blur: it is not an intellectual element of my work, but the result of my internal dynamics and my physical commitment during the creation. It also comes from a desire for peace, acceptance, and from a poetic outlook, a sublimation of matters—basically, a dreamlike world where I feel in tune with myself.
My art is very intimate, which is likely the biggest obstacle to analysis. Nonetheless, it speaks to many in the audience, and I feel profoundly moved when it does.
Intimate and instinctive, it tends to become universal and though it is not intentional, it is a huge satisfaction for me—oversensitive woman, hidden in my shell, to be able to share emotions and feel connected to others.
C – Besides the Pool Art Fair (Guadeloupe) where you have shown you work twice already, where else have you done exhibits?
A – As you must have figured out, I paint for myself first, and for a long time, I kept my artwork in a very private realm. In November 2015, Richard Vialatte organized a collective exhibition with his students from the St Anne OMCS’ workshop. The feedback was so positive that it gave me the confidence and the desire to take the plunge and share. I then displayed my work at Garden Design in 2016, took part in my first Pool Art Fair in 2017, exhibited a few pieces at Thierry Alet’s T&T Gallery early 2018, at the St Anne OMCS in May, and again at the Pool Art Fair in June. In April 2019, I had a solo exhibition at the Fort Fleur d’Épée.
“A nearly mesmeric state that contributes equally to the atmosphere of the canvas and to the deep flat tints in which the eye wanders.”
C – What are your main creative painting tools?
A – Undoubtedly photography, which I like and which affects me very much. Bokeh, depth of field, changes in focus, framing, light, and happy accidents inspire me even more than my favorite painters.
Colorful circles, directly inspired from bokeh, set up masses, colors, disruptions, underline sharpness, and suck me into the process of creation. Drawing almost perfect circles, freehand, is like meditating to me: composure, slowness, consistency of breath, accuracy, the unleashing… a nearly mesmeric state that contributes equally to the atmosphere of the canvas and to the deep flat tints in which the eye wanders.
C – What part does Caribbean culture play in your art?
A – I arrived in Guadeloupe in October 2000, for 6 months, yet I am still here. My entire adult life. Obviously, yes, this culture lives through me. My day-to-day life is one of my main inspirations and my 2018 series is clearly “Caribbean” through its themes, lights, blazing colors, smoothness, vividness. But once again, the topic is only an excuse for a deeper, more universal expression. My job puts me at the front row of life in general, not only West Indian life. In my opinion, whatever culture, beliefs, personal or common history we have, we always look at life individually but also collectively. Something bigger than us unites us beyond our differences. I do not feel more Guadeloupean than I feel Lorraine, I feel plainly Human—and I nurture, I thrive from this humanity.
C – Can you tell me about your journey? What are you doing right now?
A – My art isn’t my daily bread. It is a limitation because I would love to bathe in colors infinitely. I would love to develop my network, organize exhibitions, communicate (3 months to do this interview, what a stretch!), but it is also a token of great freedom: liberty to create, express, to pick my themes, colors, formats, in my own time…
C – Which piece makes you more proud, and why?
A – That’s a tough question… some of them I like less: when the balance seems shallow, when the research was a bit of a drag. I feel satisfied when things flow better, just like in “La plage”, “Les bateaux”, “L’incendie”, “Femme 1”, “Palm Tree 1” or “Série urbaine” number 1 and 2. Fortunately, it happens a lot, but not always!
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