Death Becomes Her - Interview with Aimée Valentine Marshall
Layers upon layers. Unrestrained colour. Focused. Fluid.
This kind of recipe isn't a matter of luck you know. It's a carefully guided exploration into the unexamined life of the now and into the future!
Meet artist and visionary thinker Aimée Valentine Marsall. We spent an afternoon together discussing her inspiration, obsessions with psychics and painting techniques. Here's what I found out.
UA: Your work looks like a lot of fun but also fuelled with emotion. It's really quite mesmerising and I'm drawn in a little deeper each time I revisit your work.
Is painting a positive / therapeutic experience for you or do you go through a range of emotions to get there?
AVM: When I create my work I have an emotion which I am trying to convey and I want the paint to express that feeling within me. As this is a vibe that I have, measuring that against a physical mark on a canvas can be tricky.
UA: It's all about the energy source! I think that's so interesting for the viewer who obviously has no idea what it took to get there and so integral to the outcome of the final piece.
For your latest projects- Psychic Futures and Lives Between Lives - you take a leap of faith into the unknown and paint of other-worldly experiences...
I can imagine this is quite a personal, emotional and (possibly) physical process or is the canvas a place to escape and forget the world?
AVM: My work is about humanity and spirituality, I use it to question my experience as a human living on earth. I was drawn to read a lot about different religions and different theories about what happens after death when my father died.
This experience drew me more to look at death, but even before then I have always been interested in different ways of seeing things and my Mum has always seen psychics and so alternative ways of thinking about spirituality have always been familiar to me.
UA: Embracing the idea of death can definitely help us further understand our own existence and with that hopefully live more fulfilling lives (or at least one more deeply rooted in connection and awareness).
As with life your paintings have many layers - vibrant colours, texture, density - all laid out in some kind of organised brilliant chaos. Would you say that is reflective of your personality or the way you live your life?
AMV: I am actually a deep thinker and plan things in my head months before they happen, so actually the chaos in the painting doesn’t reflect the way I am or the way I live. My painting style is largely influenced by the surrealist movement, so I try to let the work flow out of me free from conscious rational control.
UA: The wide range of colour is obviously integral to your work. Can you tell us about that?
AVM: This is completely intuitive, I draw out the image I want to paint loosely a couple of times before I start painting, but the colours emerge as I do it. As I mix my own paints I can mix up colours as I go. With the white paintings in ‘Lives Between Lives’ I knew that the colours shouldn’t be overpowering and should be subtle and there should be a lot of white to get what I want across, so I’ll start with that idea, but as the painting continues over days or sometimes months, I make decisions when I arrive each day on how it should go.
UA: Do you think you can connect and communicate certain feelings and experiences through a painting that you can’t always articulate? Does it help to organise your thoughts?
AVM: I defiantly think there are things you can communicate through painting that can’t be communicated through words. I always get a really calm feeling in art galleries looking at art work, I find it amazing that someone’s creative energy can take the form of something physical. Painting doesn’t actually help me organise my thoughts, I write lists and notes on my phone a couple of times a day and these are what I use to think of new concepts and get my studio organised so I can paint.
UA: So is there always a plan?
AVM: There is always a rough plan, over the last two years I have done two painting series, so it’s important that the paintings in those connect, therefore I planned them to be the same dimensions and I compare each new painting to the rest of the series. But the actual image making process mainly happens in the moment.
UA: How would you like people to connect with your work and what would you like them to take away?
AVM: I would like them to enjoy the process of connecting with the painting and be open to new views on our traditional way of thinking about life, death, reality and humanity.
UA: Where do you find inspiration when you’re not feeling inspired?
AVM: I read a lot of books, my recent ones being: Alchemy and Mysticism by Taschen, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. A huge amount of artists have influenced my work, but a few standout ones are: Jean Michael- Basquiat, Leonora Carrington, Jay DeFeo, Joseph Beuys, Kandinsky, Salvador Dali, Helen Frankenthaler and Paul Chan.
UA: And as with every artist, everyone wants to know where it all began. Can you tell us about your childhood and the influence of art and play?
AVM: I grew up in a village just outside of London, I didn’t go to lots of art museums when I was younger but my parents were very creative, imaginative people and always encouraged me to draw and make things. I also had a lot of freedom to roam around the woods, roads and gardens with a bunch other kids completely unsupervised. We would be always building and creating things in our little bike gang, like tree houses, forts and traps. I suppose this made me realise I liked making things, so I did that more and more as I grew up.
UA: Thanks Aimée for giving us some insight into your world and encouraging us to look at things differently.
For those of you state side, Aimée will be participating in Clio Art Fair New York 11th - 14th October 2018. Please go check it out.
Find out more here:
Psychic Futures is an on going project that Aimee has embarked on over the last two years. She has got her future read multiple times by different clairvoyants and psychics and paints each prediction of her future. The paintings are made in one sitting directly from the drawings done during the reading providing a visual map of her future. The project questions the strong human instinct for reassurance in life and justify why we are living the lives we have chosen.