Working in Harmony: Koralie on Her Latest Show "Indigo Blood"
The French painter Koralie has had a long career of conceptualizing spirituality, inspiring herself and others through vibrant patterms and an integration of traditional designs with her rich color palette. While her work visually has changed, she doesn't seem to think so, she explores similar concepts but with different results, all feeding into the same organic truth. Her latest show Indigo Blood, at Jonathan Levine Projects, may seem like a departure to others, but upon further investigation, it's a reconceptualization and deeper dive into the world of diverse human traditions and spirituality. On the eve of her show closing this weekend, Koralie chatted with us to discuss this new body of work and her intriguing life.
It feels like this new show is a huge departure from your wheatpaste and street art style of work. What is the thought process behind this new work? Did something inspire this shift?
It may sound like a big change because I went from a rather narrative art to a more abstract art, but to me it isn’t really that big of a jump. My Geishkas (a combination of geishe and matryoshka) that I painted for 12 years in the four corners of the world were inspired and realized by mixing different origins and elements, both traditional and contemporary, and I hope to create multicultural harmony. I’m attracted to the aesthetics of rituals and traditions. People always put a lot of energy, love and beauty into places of worship destined to venerate gods or spirits. This is why my work is more and more directed towards the world of worship and spirituality. I create works that mix beliefs (religious buildings, animistic installations ...). So, basically my inspiration and my message is still the same but I integrated the notions of worship and nature. As for the form, I stayed focused on symmetry, repetition, and patterns. Little by little I integrated my technique of stencils, which I have created and define as a new language of creation: each stencil is an element of my score from which I compose different original patterns, some kaleidoscopic, rosettes and palm gardens, honouring nature.
My husband and fellow-artist SupaKitch lived in New York, then Paris, and today we live in Biarritz, France at the edge of the ocean. We have always lived where we wanted and where we thought we could find the most inspiration and energy to create. Before I needed the energy of the city, live “in the heart of a locomotive,” and recharge my batteries sometimes in the countryside. Today, I need the energy of nature everyday, open spaces, and recharging myself in the city. I need the support of the city to paint walls, but I need to create visuals inspired by nature. Today, culture and nature are inseparable from my work.
What have your last few years been like? Have you been traveling a lot?
I traveled a lot because it's my first source of inspiration, but I also worked a lot on refining my new artistic direction. I felt the need to evolve, to tell things even more in depth. It was not easy to give up an image for which one is recognizable, while keeping her personality.
I traveled, I read, I observed, I took a step back from my work, I analyzed my experiences, I recalled my memories and I evolved my inspirations. I listened to my emotions, my instinct, I looked for something without knowing what, I looked in different directions, I searched without finding, I tried, I failed, I went into different stages of creation but I learned, and I understood things, and the ideas arrived little by little, until I found myself. I tame my ideas, to extract their essence, find the rhythm, and to construct an abstract image, that only I understanded, in universal language. I can say that I traveled a lot physically, but also spiritually, and the balance of both put me on this new creative path.
What's the thought process behind your choice of a color? Is it an easy process or do you get hung up on a decision?
As in a kaleidoscope, I want observers to let their vision wander on the canvas, their eyes moving from side to side, they do not know where to look, they feel hypnotized. I want to give the illusion that the patterns are moving, a kind of kinetic art but static thanks to the patterns but also by the choice of colors. The eye of the spectator flows naturally, following the path that colors and patterns create.
The hues and associations between them cause different sensations depending on the personality of each. I am looking for color balance by intensity and quantity on the canvas. I often use blue and green, the palette is very wide and they are soothings colors reminiscent of nature. I’ll use touches of pink, yellow and purple for brightness, however, I almost never use red as I do not like it’s aggressiveness and it's difficult to combine.
I start with a background color that inspires me, that touches me the most in the moment, which is typically a dark and natural color. Then I create my palette from this base. I have to find the right balance between "too many colors" and "not enough", dull and bright colors, dark and light colors, warm and cool colors. I superimpose the darkest to the brightest, to create depth by contrast and to bring life to my painting.
Do you have a routine to your work or is it sporadic?
I like to have a routine when I work but also break that routine when I want.
I work a lot, every day of the week, and I alternate between times of research, reflection and preparation, paint on canvas or murals, etc. I find this productive because it yields a more immediate result, more concrete. Yet the steps before painting are just as important because everything is built and I can then "let go" on the canvas or on the walls. This method allows me to be reassured by the work upstream and more instinctive when I start painting.
I especially like the times when I can combine painting and travel and I love when I get the opportunity to paint murals with SupaKitch. As soon as we combine our worlds it immediately tells a story. We are identifiably different but our universes work very well together. It is important for us to keep our identity, our own style and not get lost in one another, to be complementary. When we work together, we create a harmony between our two universes. It is very enriching to mix our styles, to answer each other, to communicate on the wall.
How do you think of your work in the context of the internet era? You've described your work as mixing elements of different origins, do you think the universality of the internet has changed that portion of your work?
With the internet and the influence that people from different countries have on each other I’ve seen aesthetics, tastes and influences become more uniform. My inspirations come from the folklore, the customs, the traditions and the original aesthetics of a country. But I want to anchor this work in the modern world to make me understand and open me to my contemporaries. Virtual travels on the internet distort the idea of discovery. You have to use the internet to do research, like going to the library, not like traveling. The inspiration comes in the reality of the travel, the physical displacement counts as much as we will discover.
What things lie on the horizon for you after this show?
This exhibition allowed me to immerse myself in a work that I have been exploring for a long time, I opened many doors to my new ideas, to new messages, to what I wanted to tell, so I will proceed to work on this project. I will continue to promote my short film, and I am writing and producing the book that will complete the exhibition and the film. I will deepen the themes of the process of creativity, the relationship between man and nature, as well as notions of cycle, ecology and spirituality. The project Indigo Blood still in progress ...