“Multifaceted” the latest exhibition at The Untitled Space, showcases the work of French artist, Faustine Badrichani. The exhibition, curated by Untitled’s EIC, Indira Cesarine, opened on June 9th, and will be on view until June 30th, 2022. This marks Badrichani’s first solo show in New York City as an artist represented by the gallery. She was previously in several group exhibitions presented by The Untitled Space including “True Stories” (2022) and “Art4Equality x Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness” (2021).
Having worked with a variety of mediums throughout her career, Badrichani focuses on acrylic paintings on paper and wood panel for this exhibition, as well as oil pastels and the traditional technique of cyanotypes. Her talent and repertoire of techniques are as multifaceted as the women she depicts in her artwork.
At the core of her practice, Badrichani aims to convey the multifaceted nature of the “everywoman,” relying on complex abstraction of female figures, intricate lines creating shapes, negative space, and a signature color palette of blue hues. A self-taught artist and a mother of three, Badrichani recognizes the importance of owning and loving your body in every stage of life. She renders her work from live models to capture the organic beauty that only comes from real women.
In “Multifaceted,” she utilizes both large-scale paintings and smaller studies to illustrate the themes of femininity, intimacy, universality, and the female form. The anonymity of her figures convey the essence of womanhood, contrasted by the intimacy revealed by their nudity. This push and pull is central to Badrichani’s explorations, making her work visually compelling to every viewer.
The Untitled Magazine sat down with Faustine to discuss the development of her career, where she finds inspiration, the importance of femininity in her practice, and her new solo exhibition with The Untitled Space. Read on for our full interview with her below.
How did you get started in your career as an artist?
It actually took me a while to settle down as an artist. After working for a few years in corporate jobs, I took a leap and decided to dedicate myself to art, and was naturally expecting things to be smooth and just pretty linear. Of course, that did not happen. It took me at least 5 years to figure out what I wanted to paint/draw, why I was doing it, and to really become professional and dedicated.
When my last daughter was born 4 years ago, I decided I would make one drawing a day, every single day. I did this for 365 days, and got to show my work at the end of this journey in a gallery in Paris. That’s really when it started for me. Drawing (and then painting) every day for a year helped me find my style.
I realized then how I was always going back to painting women, how I enjoyed playing around with colors and coming up with color palettes, and how creation was grounding me.
Have you always wanted to be an artist? How long have you been exhibiting professionally?
I grew up in the countryside in France, and I was always the creative one of the family. I was always making land art with whatever I found in the fields around our house, making little clay sculptures from dirt, and just drawing. But then I chose a different path.
When I started working in London, something did not feel right for me, and I started attending evening drawing classes at Central St Martin. It wasn’t until 10 years after this, in 2019, that I actually started showing professionally in Paris.
How did growing up in France influence your artwork?
I grew up in Provence, in the countryside, and that definitely still plays a role in my work, especially as I still spend time there every summer. The sunlight in Provence and the landscapes are very unique, and my work (especially in my previous series “D’Abord la Mer”) has been a quest to showcase that special light.
My body of work, “La Mediterraneé,” is directly inspired by my childhood in Provence. Although I don’t paint landscapes, I do feel my paintings have this vibe of slow life, of epicurism and enjoying the moment as you are, living it versus intellectualizing it.
Moreover, growing up abroad and then moving to a new country has made the issue of identity more central in my life. Are you where you come from? Are you where you live? How to combine both of these elements in one identity – does it matter in the end where you’re from? The idea of identity is more central to my latest series presented this month at The Untitled Space.
You are currently based in NYC – how do you find living in NYC affects your style?
It’s really hard to tell what’s imputable to living in a specific place, and what just stems from growing up, aging, and going through different life phases. I have been living in New York for 12 years now, which is almost my entire adult life. I have changed, and so has my work.
One thing is certain though- living in New York (and the US in general) has been liberating, and allowed me to embrace a career as an artist. The American Dream is still very real, and I do get the feeling here that everything is possible, and that I can be whoever I want to be. In that sense, I don’t know if I would have embraced a career as an artist had I stayed in France.
I found it very stimulating to be in New York, meeting artist friends, sharing this life with other fellow artists, being able to navigate the art industry, and having access to galleries, artists, and other creatives.
What challenges have you faced developing your own style as a self-taught artist?
That’s a very interesting question. I think it’s been great in one sense, as it’s very liberating- every subject, every style, was an option. But also, it’s taken me a lot of time to actually find my style and narrow down what I wanted to express.
Now, 10 years in, I feel it’s really a chance for me, I am not conditioned to judge my work in one way or another. I feel I can do anything, and I feel like my style is recognizable easily, with the way I use lines, shapes, colors. That would not have been the case had I been in a school that taught me what rules to follow in visual arts.
What mediums do you enjoy working with and why?
My background is really rooted in drawing. I started painting only after many years of sticking to drawing. In that sense, I am still loving working on paper more than anything else. A lot of my paintings even now are still made on paper.
In terms of actual materials. I think by now I have probably used them all. From acrylic, to all kinds of inks, oil painting, and even cyanotype, enamel paint, etc. I also did a lot of sculptures at one point, and was really loving direct plaster.
To me, the material is just a tool. When I start a piece, I know what I want it to look like in the end and just choose accordingly.
Why is using live models important to you and your art?
I have always drawn from life, and it seems like the only thing I know how to do now. I started going to life drawing sessions at Spring Studios, and when I felt confident enough, I started having models sit in my studio. I am more of a “muse” person. I have a couple of models I absolutely adore, and I only work with them.
For example in my latest Solo Show at The Untitled Space, 90% of the paintings are made with two models, Anais or Jeunesse. The reason why I prefer drawing from models is that I feel the lines are always better. The final piece is always a lot stronger, and more realistic. Most of all, there is more sensuality and sensitivity than working from photos.
During the 2020 lockdown, as I was out of models, I started painting self-portraits, since I was the only person available.
Your work is very inspired by the female form – what drew you to that subject?
It seems very basic, our bodies are how we are in the world, but they’re the first envelope, they’re the limit of what is me and what’s the rest, and they’re also the root of our emotions.
I have become more interested in my own body over the past years, as I have been pregnant, then breastfeeding, then losing weight and energy. I got into yoga and did a teacher training where I had hours and hours of anatomy. Through those changes, the body really became my only source of inspiration and the only thing I would paint.
Specifically, I am very interested in woman’s bodies because they’re so mysterious, complicated, and full of contradictions. Through the representation of women’s bodies, I can talk about so many different themes: intimacy, strength, power, happiness, freedom, but also vulnerability, anxiety, etc.
To me, a woman’s body allows a play between what is intimate but also what is universal to women, and this exploration is endless. There are endless ways to present the female form- it’s been rendered since art exists, and yet, I always feel inspired to show it differently, in a unique way.
How do you explore femininity through your work?
The exploration of femininity really is at the root of my practice. This exploration is endless and I will probably never fully understand it. There are as many definitions of femininity as there are women in the world, and even one’s definition evolves with time and life experiences.
To me, femininity is the way I am in the world. In a sense, it means embracing the fact that I am a woman and loving it, and being in harmony with my body. I do feel that this definition is apparent in my work. My silhouettes of nudes are never sexualized, or objectified. The women in my work are here for themselves and by themselves, detached from anyone’s opinions.
What other artists have inspired you or influenced your work?
As I never went to art school, I feel my artistic culture and knowledge is actually very limited, and in that sense, it’s hard to say what other artists have inspired me. My work is a lot about sensations, and very intuitive because I have so little artistic background. I haven’t really intellectualized my practice.
I am a huge fan of Matisse’s painting, “La Danse.” The women in this specific painting are in some ways close to my own women, as they are by themselves, nude, detached from any opinions the viewer may have, completely free and being how they want to be.
Lately, I have also been a huge fan of Jenna Gribbon. I absolutely adore the way she depicts intimacy, and though her approach is very different from mine, I relate a lot to her work and the subjects she tackles.
What color palettes inspire you?
Color palettes look so easy, but it’s actually a lot of work to come up with a limited palette that works. Sometimes it just feels like pure luck, and there is no magical recipe.
I use only a very limited number of colors: for example, “Silhouettes/Blue” only has two colors, blue and white! I never use more than 5 colors per artwork. That’s what works for me- it just seems that I could not handle more.
Your debut NY solo exhibit just opened at The Untitled Space – can you tell us about the inspiration behind the collection?
I started making this body of work with one idea initially: I would paint one woman in the same position, from different angles, and show those intertwined silhouettes with a limited palette.
I called the first one of them “Multifacette.” It was a way to show the same person from different perspectives, visually. Metaphysically, it was also a way to talk about each woman’s identity, the different ways she presents herself to the world.
This series is really about identity, and at the same time, it’s about decomposing the essence of character. Ultimately, it allows me to dig deeper, and create a decomposition of the essence of femininity.
I then kept exploring this theme and the same idea of the intertwined silhouettes, but without keeping the same position, creating artworks that look almost like mosaics. I like how people can spend a few minutes in front of each piece, trying to figure out what’s going on, what arm belongs to whom, etc.
I have been playing with the use of lines and shapes, where sometimes the shape creates then line, and sometimes the line creates the shape, ranging from figuration to abstraction.
Do you have a personal favorite artwork in the show?
My favorite piece is “Silhouettes/Blue” (featured at the top of this article). First of all, it’s my largest piece ever, so it’s really a big step for me, and I had so much fun making it. My model Anais, who I have been working with for years and who now lives in France, was in New York for a few days.
Though I had an idea of what I wanted, she really worked through my composition. Everything was so fluid, and the intertwined figures came so naturally during our session. It was a pure moment of artistic bliss.
I have also used a color palette that I love, with burnt sienna tones and blue hues. Blue has been central to my work in the past three years, and I am very happy to show a very blue piece in the show.
How do you convey a universal woman through your art, and why is that important to you? Many of your figures are faceless – why do you choose to keep them anonymous?
This play between intimacy and universality conveyed by the woman’s body really is central to my practice. I seek to connect intimacy and universality.
My characters don’t have distinct features or identifiable faces, and their skin colors are for the most part not even connected to skin color as we know them. This allows me to showcase women as a universal entity, an essence of womanhood. And at the same time, their nudity reveals their intimacy. Those women are “everywoman,” each of them both unique and universal.
What are you looking forward to most from your upcoming solo exhibit?
I am just genuinely happy to put my work out there, and that both people I know and people I do not know will be able to see it (in real life, not on instagram). My two models who are in 90% of my drawings will also be able to come, and I am very excited for that too!
Has your work or vision of women evolved since moving to NYC?
I have been in New York for a long time now – 12 years – which is most of my adult life. I came as a young adult, and since then, I got married, had kids, became an artist, and painted thousands of women. So for sure, my vision of women has evolved a lot, but it’s hard to tell what’s imputable to NYC and what’s just about me aging and going through womanhood.
My own body has evolved, and so has my relationship to my body, and that had a great impact on my work. Conversely, becoming interested in the woman’s body through my art has made my own body more central to my life, and made it more interesting to me.
I grew up as the only girl with 3 brothers, and until I moved out of my home, it felt like I did not have a body, or at least a feminine body. We never talked about our bodies at home. It was not something interesting, and my siblings could not relate to what I was experiencing.
What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment as an artist so far?
My upcoming solo show in New York is a big step for me. Over the past three years, I have been mostly successful in France. It is where I have a gallery and where most of my collectors are located.
This exhibition allows me to have a stronger presence here in my hometown, in this country that is mine now, but not where I am from.
In France, I started selling my little drawings from my year of making one drawing a day. Then, I expanded to bigger paintings, different bodies of work, etc. As of now, a lot of people in France have my pieces in their homes.
Just thinking that so many people have something I made in their home, that they can see when they wake up over their bedside table, in their secondary houses, in the hallway when they go check on their kids, in their living room when they have friends over- this makes me feel very lucky and brings me a lot of joy.