Union Gallery is pleased to announce In The Field of Semolina, with a new body of paintings by the New York based French painter Margaux Valengin, curated by artist Liam Scully
Scrolling my Instagram feed was where I first encountered Margaux’s work, quite a special piece. A tropical palm, unfolding atop an off-white canvas, the image reminded me of spending time in Queensland, Australia. Upon visiting the work at the RCA degree show, I was struck by the confidence, the simplicity and compositional excellence. The paint ratio to canvas, the placement of colour, the convergence of abstraction and figuration was just right. Margaux later explained the principles of composition, the circular unravelling of the palm, somewhat paid homage to the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Much has changed since the minimal palm tree painting, a fantastical, surreal and sometimes bizarre series of canvases have emerged. Voluptuous, fruit laden women, howling wolves, panting dogs, flowering hibiscus and fornicating couples are just some of the rich imagery arising from this year alone. While the painter’s intelligence for line, colour and composition remains - we see Margaux’s draftsmanship come to the fore in these new works; not in a boastful way just completely necessary. A feast of squash, onion and turnip, carrot and watermelon, are executed in the lushness that they rightfully deserve.
We have talked our mutual admiration for Picabia, Chirico’s unfashionable late horse paintings and even record sleeve artists such as Jim Warren and Mati Klarwein. Where the latter two may be categorised as ‘Mass Market Kitsch’, I think it is important that as painters we can draw from whatever excites us, or feels urgent.
The fundamentals for human survival, food, shelter, security, love, laughter and social belonging are all themes that could be attributed to these new paintings, reminding us that a society dependent on the world wide web is increasingly volatile. Clearly Margaux feels a necessity to paint, a compulsion to communicate in the universal language of images. “Strength, growth, love, cleansing, peace, femininity, masculinity, a sense of swimming, a sense of floating…” are some adjectives Margaux has expressed for the work in this exhibition. If the function is to cleanse, then in a post-Trump, post-Brexit world, increasingly saturated in negativity I feel cleansed while taking time to look at Margaux’s painting.
Margaux Valengin, b.1992 in Péronne, France, currently lives and works in Brooklyn New York. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2016 with a Masters in Fine Art after completing her Bachelors of Art in 2014 at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium.