The beauty about the UAE is that not only has it transformed into an art, health and technology hub, it has become the centrepoint for many artists across cultures to visit this country and showcase their work to those of us who live here. I find it quite intriguing to meet artists and painters right here in Dubai who have never visited with the city, let alone the country ever before. This is a great opportunity for artist aficionados like myself to enjoy conversations with these artists as they explain what inspires their work. Through their art, I can feel the heartbeat of their culture.
This year itself, I’ve visited French artist Elizabeth Germain who was painting live at Chez Charles, d3 district. Then German artist Elizabeth Krogull showcased her work at St. Regis Al Habtoor City a few months ago. Alliance Francaise in Oud Metha Dubai also makes endeavours to bring French artists and crafter-makers to show some of the best French art.
To open the new art season at Alliance Francaise, 83 year old French painter Monique Leinert showcased her art filled with dreamy women in surreal landscapes. The art exhibition opened in La Gallerie on September 20, 2017 and will go on till October 20, so do make it a point to visit the exhibition.
The artwork by Monique is marked by women figures who wear hats and carry umbrellas. The grey silvery background brings out the almost dreamy feel combined with a sense of innocence, sweetness and a feeling of coming home to a happy family. The colours of the coats that the women wear are painted in loose colour tones and evoke a feeling of timelessness. But you could almost be sure that they are standing at the races, or even walking in the 1920s streets of Paris. In one of the paintings, I felt that mothers were gathering together at the garden of one’s home to discuss the weather, to admire the flowers or shining silverware for a party that evening.
As hard as you may try to catch a smile or a twinkle of an eye, paintings are devoid of features or even expressions, but that only adds to the mysterious feeling of the whole painting. One might think they walked out of the Downtown Abbey series or channelled a Coco Chanel.
I had Plum PR, Anne Cabanel to translate Monique’s answers to my questions. Monique was born in a small town called Grenoble at the foot of the French Alps and had access to the seaside, which is why many of her paintings capture the same. She came from an artist family – her own grandfather was a doctor, an artist and an art collector. So, developing the artist in her came very easy and by the age of 12 she was already painting.
Almost instantly, she found her subjects to be portraits of women and little women and 6 decades later, they remain the subject of her paintings. I wondered why the love for painting such women didn’t cease – it was as if it was her calling, her yearning to capture a soulful feeling in a fragile yet soft manner. Monique shared, “I loved my mother and her soul. She was a women of gentle character and charisma and this reflected in her face and in her manner. Her beauty and the wonder of who she was as a person left a mark on me and whenever I paint my characters, a bit of my mother seeps into the painting. It is almost dreamlike, a wonderful yet a mysterious quality that I aim to capture.”
Monique left Grenoble and the sea behind when she followed her husband to Provence and this somewhat impacted her paintings as she incorporated parts of the French countryside into the paintings. She say:”Provence seems warm and colourful to me. The small streets of the villages, pretty houses in a row and the splendid blue skies have allowed me to place my characters in this context, even though I have always preferred the sea.”
Like many artists, Monique finds that time stands still when she paints – she remains engrossed in the process of bringing these women and girls to life through oils and gouache. Will the women never reveal their faces, I wondered. Monique responds: “I have not sought to hide their faces, but I do like the mystery of who they could have been, leaving it for the viewer to guess. There is a certain freedom of leaving my characters anonymous, and I’ll always continue to paint them as and when they appear from my dreams.”
I may have missed catching her exhibition in person (life as a full time content writer and creative entreprenueur don’t always allow me the flexibility to meet international artists visiting the country) but I hope you do visit the exhibition.
Entry to the exhibition is free. You can read more on the Alliance Francaise Dubai website.
All photos in this blog post have been supplied by Plum PR and used with permission.