Charlotte Guérard is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Brighton, studying Fine Art Painting. Guérard creates large-scale pieces which are saturated in bright splashes of colour, pieces in which she encourages one to “interpret a story of his own.” Speaking to The Badger, Charlotte discusses the creation of movement within her pieces, gaining inspiration from the environment, and organising her recent solo exhibition, Prawn Cocktail.
1) What are the key themes in your work?
Themes aren’t introduced as subject matters in the work so much as the materiality and visual narratives. Shapes, colours, textures and patterns are guidance to the composition and are really the way I look at my paintings. There is a sense of movement which I attempt to keep present even after the piece is achieved; when I paint, my entire body is engaged in gestural choreographies. Now, I’m not a dancer but somehow each mark applied feels a little more like a performance the further the painting gets. This is when the visual narrative comes to mind, recalling my steps, and reading the images between the layers, a story born through the creative process. I find exciting the idea that the viewer, when looking at my work, wouldn’t focus only on one part of the painting, that his Eye and Mind might travel and dance too across the canvas, therefore interpreting a story of his own.
2) Where does your artistic inspiration come from?
My interest in materiality is very much influenced by the way I look at things. If I see a wall I can be attracted by its colours, maybe the dirt or scratches and holes giving it a sense of age and history of the building. I imagine how it would feel like to peel off the paint from it or how cold my hand might be when sitting flat on the fresh brick.
I respond to the environment in many ways by feeling it beyond what is just given in sight. Which is why when I look at the history of painting, I feel close to the practices which ally similar responses to the world.
3) What other mediums would you like to explore?
Getting a feel of diverse crafts in new fields around painting is essential to the way I work. Monoprints, collages, drawing, and textiles have already made their way into the compositions. Found materials have also been major when thinking about the historical background of a piece, thus taking part in the narrative created. The sculptural side of painting is definitely something which I wish to research as well as the curational process, when displaying the work in specific environments.
4) The last exhibition you displayed was called “Prawn Cocktail” and took place in May. Could you tell me a little more about that project?
Prawn Cocktail was my first solo exhibition, showing 14 paintings of my most recent work. I was aiming for something quite playful, reflecting upon a particularly vibrant, experimental place where my practice was at the time. The idea of putting the show together actually only came to mind two months before the private view, which of course was a lot of pressure but also a great opportunity to learn fast and accommodate to the different roles I was taking on along the way (being my own curator and publicity). Taking the paintings out of the studio really gives you a new perspective on the work, and in this case, it was a key moment in my practice.
The turnout was amazing, it was a night full of colourful spirits, friends, family, peers and simply art lovers who came along to share this time with me.
5) Do you plan on doing another exhibition in the foreseeable future? Or, do you have any other future projects in the works?
I am currently in my third year of a Fine Art Painting Degree at The University of Brighton. The next step which I work towards is my final year degree show which usually happens at the end of May. In the meantime, I will be organising events in collaboration with some of my peers such as painting auctions in Brighton’s local pubs, to fund this show.
Words: Grace Sowerby