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Saigon Artbook Presents: Laurent Judge

Due to high demand, the release party for Saigon Artbook’s 3rd edition will be held over two days at Lê Công Kiều Station starting this evening. For those unfamiliar with the project, it is a quarterly book launch comprising mainly unseen works by innovative artists living in Saigon and its surrounding areas.

I went to meet one of the three artists featured in the upcoming edition, French painter, Laurent Judge, in his new studio to talk about his artwork featured in the book.

He has made 12 new paintings for the Saigon Artbook, although, he clarifies that “actually I think that 4 of them were older paintings I made years ago and I re-painted on them, added some parts and even changed their entire structure.”

When I showed my surprise that, in a way, he was willing to ‘delete’ his own paintings instead of working on a new canvas altogether, he explained that “I let the paintings live, so I might change them later, let’s say ten years or so. It’s like a person.”

For Laurent, his artwork changes and evolves with him, “I have done so many jobs, projects, sports and so on in my life, but I never continued them. I do not know why. Painting is the only thing in my life that I have always done constantly and I have always found an impulse, an interest towards it.”

Asking him to talk about his inspirations or about the meanings behind his painting is always tricky since he would rather have the viewer attach whatever they feel and see to each piece; music, his own imagination, cultural icons and symbols are mainly the starting points for the artist’s compositions - “Sometimes, for example, I make a story about symbolism which is true but then I like to introduce opposite elements to it. My approach to the work is serious but then I might add something crazy, silly or a bluff.”

The style of his work in the upcoming show is “mainly abstract, very colorful and cosmic. My style has changed during the years, I started as a graffiti artist and, although I still follow some graffiti aesthetics, I would say that it has naturally evolved into something different. Probably, in the future, I would like to experiment with more figurative types of work or even sculptures.”

I asked him if there is a piece that he prefers or that he is more attached to, “Lighting Bolt is probably my favorite because, despite being quite pleasurable to the eyes in terms of colors, it is very rich in detail and you can travel through the story. When I started working on it, the initial structure was very simple but then I started to add compositions onto it and I sort of got lost through the journey.”

Laurent’s art is distinctively intense where objects, people and symbols belonging to both the real and to the imaginary worlds exist in a realm made of decisive colours brushed across the canvas.

It seldom happens that an entire collection by a single artist can capture the viewer’s attention with every single piece on display; but I found this to be true for Laurent’s paintings. The intensity and multi-layered details, references and concepts enclosed in each piece force you to stop and really look at what is in front of your eyes. 

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