In the build up to our Winter Exhibition we catch up with French abstract-expressionist Aurelie Freoua who is on a journey to paint pure emotions and express intensity through colour, shape and movement.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
My father paints, so I have always been attracted to the medium of painting and I have always felt strong emotions when I have gone to see exhibitions. This medium speaks to me; I used to paint when I was sixteen and then four years ago I spontaneously decided to buy some brushes and a canvas; I began to make my feelings visible through abstract and expressionist ways. Painting started to be a kind of vital need.
At what age did you leave Paris? Did you notice a big difference between the art scene there and the one you experience now in London?
I came to London five and a half years ago. When I was in Paris I studied mathematics applied to economics, so I was in a different type of mood there; I didn’t pay as much attention to the life of an artist then as my life was different. When I came here my life changed totally, I looked for a studio and left my previous life behind to become a painter and to make as much art as possible. So, my reference in the life of an artist is in London, but one day maybe I will go back and will be able to compare.
You studied maths and economics before undertaking your education in arts. Do you find your painting practice to be a liberation from the objective world of maths or do those logical and formulaic structures influence the methods you use as an artist?
Actually I mostly try to represent ideas and a lot of emotions through my paintings. My main challenge is to obtain a visual representation of our unconscious. We have a tendency to think that mathematics doesn’t involve emotion, but I am trying to show that the link between mathematics and art is strong; indeed, they are both looking for truth, beauty and absolute, and are both trying to approach the infinite. Even if these two ways of expression are different, they have a lot of common points; the notions of space and time are also shared. I like to highlight the philosophical intersections between two worlds that people think are opposites. That’s why I often represent geometrical shapes such as spirals in my work showing the feelings of evolution, growth, the infinite etc.
The approach of colour in my paintings is very strong too; colours can express so much intensity in the way they meet and communicate on the canvas. I try to represent this world of colour.
Your work appears very free flowing. How do you know when your work has reached completion?
I have different ways of working: when I improvise on a canvas, I feel that I am discovering something spontaneously without any previous thought. I like this unique feeling improvisation. There are many stages; first I just make colours and shapes play freely on the canvas and I let the colours lead me. Sometimes, figures appear and I try to emphasise them. Then, I try to reach the equilibrium and balance of the painting. At some point I feel a harmony; if I make any more brush strokes I could destroy everything, so there is a delicate and subtle instant because I have to find the right moment to stop. It is important for me that each of my artworks has a specific meaning.
So there is no objective point that you reach, it is something inside you and you only know where it is from practice.
Yes, for me you have to practice to understand.
You have exhibited in New York, Paris, London, and more. How do you find the experience of travelling abroad to exhibit?
I really like travelling abroad because you discover new cultures and a new way of living. You learn how artists live in other countries and it’s amazing to show to a different audience. It gives you confidence and is a good experience. Travelling to New York in May this year was great as I could observe the art world in there which is non stop and really alive. Going back to Paris last year and again a few weeks ago to show my work was very emotional too because it’s my home city.
Every travel has a kind of meaning and intensity for me. I always look forward to travelling in other countries. Maybe in South-East Asia or South America one day.
Where do you hope to be artistically in ten years time?
I hope that I will be able to represent most of the ideas I have in my mind, on huge scales; I can express more ideas and concepts on a big scale. I want to feel that I have totally improved my artistic practice. I want to continue to experiment, to develop my techniques and the emotional aspect of my work through sculpture and mixed media as well. I need more and more to express my vision in 3Dimension. I have started to play and explore with different materials like wood, found objects, clay and everything. It’s a personal goal as I am trying to be satisfied in my practice and happy with my realisations. I’d like to explore new geometrical shapes and go through mathematical concepts like the Fibonacci sequence, the golden ratio, prisms, and to keep going deeper.
So you want to keep that mathematical connection and explore it further.
Absolutely, prime numbers, magic squares, theories relating to infinity etc.
Looking at art like a science explored through emotional methods.
Yes, because I am passionate about colours and I am trying to create vibrations on my canvases.
Okay, one last wild card question: what is your favourite colour?
Colours alone look so different than when surrounded by other colours.
If you had to say...
It has always been red since I was child, because of its intensity, warmth, but in a way I have a lot of passion for yellow and its own light.
Anything else you want to say?
In my MA show I was trying to place chaos (my abstract expressionist practice) and order (my geometric method of representation) face to face. In the ‘order’ paintings, we could notice a bit of chaos and it was called "Chaotic Order". In the ‘chaos’ paintings, there was a bit of order so it was called "Ordered Chaos"
And these are the works you are exhibiting this December?
Exactly, I will exhibit the spiral paintings highlighting these feelings of evolution, growth, and order.