‘The Tragedy of Landscape’ Artist Interview: Juliette Losq

Could you tell us a little about your background and what you have been up to recently?

I have been making and exhibiting work for the past ten years, since I left my job in the City and retrained at Wimbledon College of Art, having previously studied Art History.  From Wimbledon I went on to the Royal Academy Schools and have continued to work from a studio and exhibit since.  My first degree in Art History has been a definite influence – my Masters at the Courtauld Institute focused on eighteenth century British and French Art, and the landscapes that I studied have been a particular inspiration in terms of technique, rococo line, and exaggerated landscape forms.  Currently I am working on a series of small pieces for a two-person show with the artist Kate MccGwire, organised the curatorial duo Coates and Scarry.  These will be accompanied by an installation piece.  Both Kate and I make work that intervenes with spaces and objects, and seems to respond to organic forms.  I have been a fan of her sinuous feather sculptures for a long time, so was delighted to be offered the chance to show with her.  The show will take place in London in July.  See www.coatesandscarry.com for further details nearer the time and for examples of Kate’s work.

Losque- Gina Soden-21-(0815)

 Could you tell us about what the thinking is about your practice (any particular influences) 

In addition to rococo drawings and prints I am interested in artists who intervene with the past in  some way: in  many of my works, such as Nexus, featured in the Tragedy of Landscape show, I incorporate images found from prints, journals and newspapers from the Victorian era and beyond.  Other pieces include science fiction imagery.  I try not to limit myself to a particular genre or period, but use images that respond to and interact interestingly with the landscape spaces that I create.  Max Ernst’s etchings do this in a fantastic way, where he collages typical illustrations from Romantic novels / women’s journals from the Victorian era with strange Gothic and animal parts.

I am also interested in Japanese and Chinese landscape paintings, in terms of their use of negative space and the way in which a series of unrelated incidents or narratives can coexist across a unified space.  I recently went to the Metropolitan Museum in new York which has a fantastic collection of landscapes from China and Japan.  I was particularly interested in the use of multiple perspective in some of the landscapes, and how a landscape can dissolve and evolve from cloud forms and trees.  The use of specific tools and brushmarks to form a kind of language for a particular Chinese Master is also fascinating.

Losque- Gina Soden-27-(0850)

Could you tell us about how your works are made?

My work is built up in alternate layers of drawings, washes, and masking fluid.  I work across the surface of the paper building up an image in a similar way to the building up of an etching plate, working from the lightest to the darkest tones.  Once these have been washed and drawn in the masking fluid is removed and further details / overdrawing is added. 


Could you say a little about the work you have in The Tragedy of Landscape?

Polydorus is an installation incorporating a large, layered drawing and an ebonised Victorian corner cupboard.  The title references the story in the Aeneid where the Prince, Polydorus, is slain by his enemies.  Subsequently, the spears with which he was killed grow into trees and form a grove.  When Aeneas happens upon this site, hacking at the trees to clear them, they bleed and the dead Prince cries out to him.  Pachliopta polydorus is also a type of butterfly with distinctive red markings, presumably referencing this myth.  I wanted to evoke the idea of the bleeding grove both through the use of sanguine coloured ink at the centre of the installation, where the branches and trunks resemble veins and arteries, but also in terms of incorporating a painted bronchial tree inside the corner cabinet, which I originally chose for its anthropomorphic qualities (the eye-like mirrors, for example).  The cabinet is turned to face the wall in reference to the Victorian tradition of turning mirrors around or covering them during periods of mourning.  Additionally the cabinet’s  profile becomes reminiscent of the body of a butterfly when viewed in the context of the wing-like shapes formed by the large drawing.

Nexus is composed of a collaged landscape incorporating found images, including an octopus strangling a diver and a Victorian swimmer in distress, evading a shark (both from the illustrated Police news of the 1870s.  Although the original collage was based on photographs of a real landscape that I had taken, through the act of tearing and reassembling, then drawing from this, it has become stylised and fictitious, something it has in common again with fantastical rococo landscapes that were based on assemblages of corals, vegetables and leaves.