Galleries & art shows
Christopher Churcher, REDSEA Gallery (February 2020)
Art has a power unlike other human endeavours – it has the ability to produce a variety of human emotions which no other enterprise can. The observer may : laugh out loud, be moved to tears, be comforted by the familiarity of what they see, challenged by what it suggests, or confused by the artist’s intentions. Art takes many forms, yet the power remains.
Our emotions do not exist in the physical world like a tree or a rock. Art is the starting point which enables people to explore their emotions. Art and emotions have a symbiotic relationship. The act of producing art comes from an artist’s own desire to exploit their physical need to create and to enhance their emotional wellbeing which occurs when they delve into the creative process.
We connect to art in different ways. No matter how it affects us, we experience its influence. The strongest emotional responses I have witnessed have been through the work of Valérie Goutard. Never have I known an artist’s work which could evoke, so powerfully, an inner feeling with lasting impact. Val possessed an ability to create works which, on the one hand, reflected her life experiences but on the other, allowed us to find our own meaning. I have experienced this time over; I have seen viewers moved and I have been moved.
Val always maintained, better for us to have our own interpretation of her work rather than have her story be told. Her desire was for us to form our own connection with her work. Val gave us this opportunity to feel for ourselves. That was Val. Her inner feeling became ours; it was her sixth sense. [ + ]
In Finding Soulmates II we see a simplistic yet powerful structure. Standing tall, we could be seeing two people join together knowing that nothing will come between them. Life’s tapestry entwined, they embark on their journey together, not concerned what the future holds but content that they have found each other; they are together, accepting each other, believing each other, inspiring each other, eternally in love.
In L’adieu emotions run high. It is tinged with both sadness and happiness. A lover, a friend or maybe a sibling finally finding peace within as they say goodbye, realising that their time on earth is at an end. Or maybe simply, its a parent saying goodbye as their child leaves the nest.
With New Born Child – Val creates an aura of joyfulness. Two people dance as they hold new life in their hands. Ahead of them lies a beautiful journey, growing together, but for now they are happy to live in the moment welcoming this new and innocent life into the world.
Val said “Being a sculptor, you put yourself at risk all the time. If you don’t put yourself at risk, you don’t feel the strength of life.”
We pay tribute.
Philippe Staib, Philippe Staib Gallery (February 2020)
One Angel has been visiting the world of Art (1967-2016) and has dialogued with our souls.
Val is a unique phenomena in the world of Art : Since ten years now every time her work is exhibited people who do not know her are stopping ,spending time looking at her creations and feeling inside them that this artist is speaking to them.
Never has any living artist generated such a spontaneous consensus from the first look. We are in front of her creation and we feel we have something in us relating to what we see. We want to know more and while we speak we understand that Val is in fact speaking with our souls. What we see is a precise moment of our lives and our feelings, which we enjoy to remember. Newborn child is a moment of deep happiness which we have not enjoyed enough for us or for family and close friends and she reminds us of the exceptionality of this moment as well as all the expectations from the new parents. Agora is one of the facts of life where on public space we cross people
And we are alone (how happy should be people living in a small community who going out cross smiling face they know) and Inle Balance is the wonderful balance of life we enjoy in the middle of this very agitated world. Nothing more impressive that this figure so well balanced representing the feeling of eternity VAL found on the Inle lake with the boatman guiding the boat with its foot while he is looking at the horizon peacefully. We need this in our daily life: serenity (positive expectations) and this exceptional creation invite us to grow all difficulties of life for a peaceful feeling. [ + ]
All is simply Bronze (this noble material) organized by a genial hand starting from assembled wax attached to some wire frame, then the representation take place in her head and hearth and a first shape comes which she takes in her hands and then the magic happens as she shapes the final image guided by what she feels inside communicating so her deepest inside feeling. This is this feeling we guess when we look at her work. Picasso said about Marc Chagall : this man has his hearth at the end of his arms and this is exactly VAL.
Unique artist VAL generates these shapes, these people and their balance that she assembles in an accomplished remarkable creation. VAL has the unique quality to stop just before it could become too realistic so that she dialogues with our souls and not our logic.
I could compare this to the creative process of Frank Gehry and his so respected creations where he said that he is letting the pencil follow the impulse he has at that moment with his original designs giving birth to these unique shapes installed all over the world.
VAL knows exactly when her creations are finished and this is an important quality for an artist, all the opposite of Giacometti who was always destroying and restarting pursuing his anxiety to represent the real as he saw it.
Rodin isolated himself in the cathedrals (he was not a believer) before putting the last touch to a creation and at the end of his life he admitted it saying that it was to penetrate himself of the greatness of the places to put his creation full of greatness.
Nothing of that with VAL that deliver to us her creative flow in all simplicity and this is really what touches us so deeply.
I would even say that her creation is at the border of our unconscious and conscious mind, at the limit of a concept and its full verbalization, at the limit of a raw image and a careful finish.
This is this movement stopped which attract the visitor who recognizes forms on which he can project his unconscious, his questions, his feelings and his expectations. The visitor stop like if he is recognizing something he knows and then ask « what does the artist wants to say ??? » and then stepping back he is listening to the explanation while continuing his dialogue with the sculpture. Many times people stop and say : we stopped because these works from VAL and we like it very much and they explain how many times they have seen pieces from her and why they like it ,while asking about the last creations showing me sometime their picture with VAL years ago. .
Passer by at exhibition and art fairs were often approached by VAL and while answering their questions she was listening their comments with the humility of a great artist hiding humbly behind her creations. She was listening and learning from all, creating a large group of fans waiting to purchase some of her work.
To attempt a description of her work we need to start from the beginning of her work in 2004 when she arrived in Bangkok thinking that in 2016 (12 short years later) she had an exhibition at the prestigious Art museum of the Central Academy of fine Art in Beijing who took two of her pieces in their permanent collection and the same year she was ordered a monumental sculpture of 36 meters long with a height from 2 to 4 meters. In the precedent years she had also several public installations all over Asia. Only these achievements would be the dream of any successful artists in his old age. She was 49 years at that time and should have enjoyed several years from these successes.
In 2004 she did “Miss trendy” among several characters and this little piece 40cm high shows already the exceptional qualities she will develop during the following years. Looking at this piece you understand immediately that she represents a certain personality with a certain grain of irony and somewhere may be a type of admiration. All that is suggested so perfectly without being realistic with a face only suggested. This will be the essence of her work letting the “other” put his own interpretation and a precise perception.
Like was saying one of our close common friends which the gallery represents the great sculptor Antoine Poncet (89 years old today) Val will for sure join the paradise of sculptors but what a face they will do when she arrives : first a woman and not even 80 years old.
Her creative path has been so well represented in an exhibition “anatomy of a creative path” which was at the end of 2015 at Yishu8 la Maison des arts in Beijing. At this exhibition both Christine Cayol (founder) and Fan’Dian president of the CAFA museum spoke to the public after a tour of her work and they positioned her work at the level of the most important names of the history of sculpture Degas ….etc. This is this exposition which interested Fan’Dian so much to ask an exhibition in the Art Museum of his academy.
Now that she left us, her work is very well identified and controlled by her husband Frédéric with most of the creations in editions of 8 numbered 1/8 to 8/8 with generally 4 Artist proofs presented EAI/IV to EA IV/IV.
There are still many pieces with editions not finished which will be available as this list is now official in a “catalogue raisonné “ to be published soon.
Now we can speak about the entirety of her work and I can say (knowing that numerous artists, Art critic and writers will comment in the future) what I perceive when she is still so present.
VAL is the artist who speaks directly to our soul with her soul there is not one collector or an art critic who would disagree with me on this point. For my soul she has always be representing humans in a situation of expectation and positive expectation. Expectation of an encounter (attraction), of happy relationship (flying lovers), of a challenge (faith), of meeting others (urban life) , of a discussion (eternal pillars), of loving (finding soul mate), of a happy moment (Cabaret), of a show (theater), of a life with a new child (new born child), of stability and tranquility (Inle balance) and so many others. And each time she put these expectations in the surrounding which magnify the situation and the human presence in its constant research of balance with its environment. Even the pieces representing difficult periods have in them an element of positive expectation (une vie, la traversée, faith…). Yes VAL represents an unique position in the history of Art by what she has represented as no other artist has done it before.
Not only that but the rich diversity of her creations constantly renewed year after year is unique. She has gained close to two hundred new collectors (fans) per year over the past five years and this also is unique.
These last weeks before her departure she put a final touch to the 36 meter long sculpture and working with her everyday on this unique project I could not stop admiring her commitment and the extraordinary intensity she puts in her work.
All this is so big that I can only attempt to summarize the positioning she has in the history of Sculpture as follow.
Between Carpeaux who pushed so far the representation as our sense of beauty and harmony could accept, Rodin who has totally passed the Greek and Roman sculpture by giving a individual life to each of his creations, Brancusi who brought us the purity of shapes while opening the door to contemporary sculpture, Giacometti with a passion who was eating him to represent reality as he was seeing it VAL came invaded and represented our interior life with all subjects of life in a mysterious language only understood by our hearth. All this just beneath the surface, tenderly like an immense scream which we could not ignore.
VAL is now with us, the lovers of Art, and it seems to me very possible that what she has done will generate a group of creators which are not born yet following her path.
Gallerist and working with VAL over the years
John Truong, Wellington Gallery (July 2018)
Wellington Gallery had the good fortune and great joy to work with Val over many years. In all her works, her hands and mind worked in unison to create or provoke a feeling or emotion in the eye of the beholder.
A recurring theme was a solitary figure or group of individuals placed within a minimalist urban landscape. Stripped down to bare essentials, these deceptively simple works convey a universe of such immense emotional depth and complexity, it can be almost overwhelming.
She was gifted with the rare ability to capture, in a fleeting moment of time, the essence of emotions such as love, loneliness, desire, despair and joy. It is a paradox that her sculptures somehow convey both movement and stillness at the same time.
Her vivid expression of the human condition came from a creative impulse that could not be denied. She was driven by a desire to communicate with others through her art.
In conversations with her, there was always a sense of an artist for whom not the briefest moment of time should be wasted – she worked on at least four to five pieces at the same time :
“For me, work is a regular life. I want to be able to wake up in the morning and just go…the sculpture is there or I leave it for some time in a corner. It could be weeks or months before I get back to it. While I’m working on other things, quite often, suddenly a solution presents itself and I stop what I’m doing and return to it and it is done.” [ + ]
Her inspiration came from everywhere – a thought, a feeling, a moment witnessed from afar. The figures in Val’s art demonstrate a quiet sensibility, that reads sometimes as resignation and sometimes as defiance in the face of the ever changing landscape of life, with all its sorrow and joy.
Her latest, and last works, moved her to place her art in a new medium – art within art. The world is a poorer place without her.
Founder and director of the Wellington Gallery
S.A.C. Gallery by Linjie Zhou (February 2021)
The counter to life is the void that replaces it, as death comes to frame and define what life is. The presence of mortality is that which gives everything meaning in our destiny, being integral in the “great adventure in the making”. Thus, begins the ideas of Franco-Chinese poet and academic, François Cheng, in his 2013 essay on life’s exit entitled “Five Meditations on death : in other words . . . on life”.
This essay was cited to be the later inspiration of adored international artist, Valérie Goutard (Val) drawing a strong connection to her work’s humanist perspective. SAC gallery presents a retrospective exhibition in memorial of the late artist Val and the legacy of her artwork. This collection highlights the essence of Val’s life and career through a curated selection of her works from 2007-2016.[ + ]
Val’s sculptures present a unique sense of space with their curves and contrast the weight of the bronze sculptures with light lines, creating many works of great tension and delicate balance. Her final collection of bronze and glass was produced alongside Murano’s glass masters in 2016. This mixture of strong and fragile materials together was notable in achieving great equilibrium and harmony. In Val’s own words:“[…] Working on my sculptures, I do not understand everything that is happening, but I sense that something is taking place, suggested worlds, worlds that sometimes we sense but no one knows about. Glass showcases countless representations of a certain reality, renders its materiality to void.”. With Val, voids were essential because they are the ones that create, in contrast to the plain structures, the perfect visual rhythm that she sought to achieve in and with her sculpture.
“The beauty of the glass caught my eye and captured my soul. […] Each glass block suggests me a story, I forgot my original intentions to focus on what it tells me today. Every single piece of glass seems unique to me, each has its own story that brought it there in my hands, having this particular form, this particular transparency, these marks related to the manipulation of matter that I desired to preserve during the polishing stage. Each sculpture will carry its own history, the joy of achievement, the discovery of a new universe. […] With glass, there is a strong focus on the essential. Reality is not what it seems to be, there is something beyond reality, an almost sacred spiritual dimension.”
She titled her work with Murano glass Tenth eonian initiative which is the anagram of The Venetian initiation in order to reinforce the mystery that the result inspired her and as she wrote then : “[…] All these materials are “trompe l’oeil”, illusionist. They fuel the idea of the labyrinth where one loses one’s bearings. They open into an imaginary world, an unknown world which we sense is in existence. They are changing and disturbing reflections.”.
Her artwork has been known to pull deeply at the existential concerns of people, mirroring the perspectives of what wonders the human mind is known to dwell on. The flexible conditions and ultimately ephemeral nature of bronze is a perfect vehicle for her themes on our eternal confusion with time. Her works seemingly speak to everyone and their lessons apply to all as well. Through the inspiration of the poet Cheng’s work, which Val was drawn to before her passing, this retrospective inspired a selection of works which best represent the quality of her soul and its relationship to the beauty found in life’s eternal march. Along the lines of the five mediations of François Cheng, the selections were divided into five modes of analysis and perspective corresponding to each meditation.
These meditations each approach the human understanding of death from different yet intertwined perspectives, showing that death is a transition in a longer living process that we cannot see clearly in modern times. As we become the ancestors of the future, we will become alive in another form, that what is living can never die and what is dead has never lived. The consequences of a world that has abandoned the sacred and avoids the mention of death is a world that is now blindly staggering through the chaos it has created. However, it can return to balance if we once again embrace the essential sacredness of life as well as death. In this exhibition we contemplate the life of Val through the light of her passing. Being conscious of death gives fate its full meaning. Because if birth is a seed, then death is the fruit–the last holy remnant of a life well lived.