It is at 2, rue Saint-Libéral, that we have an appointment today with Laurence Chouzenoux. Her studio, where she paints and exhibits her canvases, is truly adjacent to the 15th century Gothic Saint-Liberal chapel, which has become, by acquisition of the city of Brive-la-Gaillarde, a place now hosting exhibitions and cultural events. In other words, the places where Laurence creates remain sacred and rich in history: one of the studio walls is even common! Moreover, one can guess, at the back of the workshop, an old entrance to the Chapel, now condemned.
“This place, she tells us, is perfect for my job. In a way, it is my home, a cocoon. During the week, I am hardly bothered by passers-by. On Saturdays, however, the workshop becomes more of an exhibition space.”
Indeed, apart from the canvases and the material present on site, one can notice a certain arrangement of objects chosen in order to create a singular atmosphere specific to the history of the artist. You will notice, here and there, cups, deer, a white horse or, even more, old perfume bottles, empty for a long time. Yet, paradoxically, these empty bottles release a past rich in emotions and stories.
“These objects, she adds, do not stay here for decoration: they correspond to me and inspire me in a genuine way. “
Born in Brive, Laurence has a unique background: at 17, in a Catalan tourist hotspot, Laurence was noticed by an agency for being a professional model. From there, an intense life, rich in adventures and travels, will be realized. She will have her pied-à-terre in Catalonia, then in Paris, but will logically return to Spain for a large part of her life.
“I was a little fed up with Paris, even though my activity made me travel a lot. I had always kept in touch with Barcelona. I love Spain, the friendliness of the people, the simplicity and the living environment. There is an authentic sweetness of life there! “
The first real click, in relation to her future passion, she confides to us, came in Paris. The revelation occurred while accompanying a painter friend to the National School of Fine Arts near Saint-Germain-des-Près.
“It was love at first sight to see the artists working, she explains, in these different rooms, all was magic and full of the stories of the greatest artists of our time. “
Laurence even remembers the smell of turpentine.
However, at 21, the aspiring artist did not yet feel ready to take the leap because, although she drew and painted from time to time, the time had not come and her work demanded a lot from her. She nevertheless took painting lessons at the Louvre in an idyllic setting overlooking the tuileries. She also began to paint more often portraits of a child with dark eyes, where purity and naivety, she tells us, mingle. Back in Barcelona, she also took painting lessons. Then, when it was time to quit her model job, Laurence ran an antique shop where she could also exhibit and sell her paintings. However, the story follows another twist. Because, it was on the occasion of a friend’s request that another click occurred. He asked her to paint his young boy from a photo and, without knowing why, this boy turned into a girl. Colors and tints have naturally emerged: gray, blue, faded pastel pink or, even more, black. This character has imposed himself repeatedly and yet he was never the same.
“The characters, she says, are never the same: they have different first names or titles. Gradually, I became attached to her. And, even if she came back, she did me good! “
These young girls represented also refer to a specific time, that of the 1920s, when the artist admits a preference, in particular for the expression of a certain joie de vivre but also for her female figures such as Colette or Coco Chanel. However, even if we can speak of nostalgia, it is never, according to the artist, marked with sadness or backwardness. No. On the contrary. It is an almost mystical connection to childhood and to the world of its own. It’s like smelling a scent that plunges us back into a poetic and joyful world that we once felt. An old perfume from an attic where one would find, for example, one of his old toys or one of his old dolls.
In any case, Go out Brive strongly recommends that you take a look near the Chapelle-Saint-Libéral, and, of course, near Laurence’s studio. Finally, we will meditate on this quote, in our opinion, appropriate here from the writer K. Le Guin: “The creative adult is the child who has survived. “