Abigail Ogilvy Gallery had the recent pleasure of speaking with Paris-based artist Jamie Romanet about her artistic influences. Through personal anecdotes, Romanet reflects on childhood memories that have developed into the soulful, honest paintings she creates today.
Abigail Ogilvy Gallery: What is your background as an artist? What sparked you to become one?
Jamie Romanet: My grandmother was an artist, and from a very young age she gave me a paint brush and oil paint and just let me get to work without any interference. She regularly took me to the Wadsworth Atheneum, and she exposed me to artists like Alice Neel, Jacob Lawrence, Milton Avery and Helen Frankenthaler.
I have a very clear memory of being a child and sitting in her living room sorting through a book on the meaning of lines. There was an undulating line, like a slowly mounting hill which was said to mean loneliness. I decided to paint this line, using the small square format and three block colors. I chose each colour with great intention. It looked a lot like an Etel Adnan painting, whose work I’ve only just become familiar with these last couple years. I was very satisfied with this piece and proud to represent in paint an interior feeling. So, what I am getting at is that I have always been an artist. This urge to represent my feelings in paint has always been there. Becoming one, or living it, is a choice I make everyday when I set up my paints and sit down to get to work.
AOG: What is your favorite reaction from people who view your art? How does that reaction influence your pieces, if at all?
JR: I really appreciate if people tell me my work is touching, or soulful. I interpret this as honest. I think honesty in art work is very important. Paint doesn’t lie, and insincerity can be evident in work. There are many abstract paintings that are soulful or honest, like Agnes Martin’s work for instance or Ilse d’hollander. I hope people do not say soulful because it’s figurative, but rather because the paintings don’t look contrived. That would be the antithesis of what I am aiming to do in my work.
AOG: How does your background of poetry and geography influence your work? Do you ever write your own poetry to accompany a work?
JR: I studied Geography because it encompasses everything related to the land, its features, its inhabitants. I am a curious person and I have an appetite for learning. I remember saying to myself while pursuing these studies that it would make me a better artist.
Poetry, like painting, is something I have been doing since I was a young girl and couldn’t even spell. My first poem ‘whe’ (why) was a series of questions asking an unknown source why all the troubles where happening in the world.. poverty, jail, cruelty. I write from time to time when it strikes me, but I read poetry every day. I find it very soothing and calming and it definitely has a great influence on my work.
AOG: If someone who was unfamiliar with the art world were to see your work, what would be the one thing you would hope that they learned from seeing your pieces?
JR: I think there is a consistent melancholy that comes through in my work and that it speaks about loneliness, and also empathy. I think if someone unfamiliar with the art world were to simply hear this experience then I would be satisfied because then that would mean we are in communication, which is my aim— This is how I am feeling, how are you feeling? With someone who is more familiar with the art world, then I would want to discuss some of my influences like Marisa Merz, Miriam Cahn, Henry Taylor, or Alice Neel. But with anyone, I hope we just get to discussing spirituality and art. This very important and instinctual urge we all have to use material to communicate about our human experience.
AOG: What’s next for your work?
JR: A couple of months ago I read the poem ‘The Pulse of Morning’ by Maya Angelou. This is a wonderful poem, that I take great comfort in. It has inspired a great deal of ideas mediating on the word ‘pulse.’
To view Jamie Romanet’s works in person, visit Abigail Ogilvy Gallery in Boston, MA.
Blog written by Holly McConnell