Solenn Heussaff holds no false pretenses.
Though her first art exhibit is currently taking place at Pineapple Lab, Solenn is quick to clarify that she is in no position for bragging or grandstanding. “I’m not gonna become BenCab,” is one way she puts it.
“I don’t want to be called an artist. For me it’s a pastime.”
Barring her tendency to downplay her creative powers, Solenn’s background is reasonably rooted in the arts. Since childhood, she studied medium after medium—pottery, oil, acrylic, silk painting—until she was 18, before moving outside the discipline of fine art, having taken up Fashion Design in Studio Berçot, and continuing her education in makeup and body painting at École Fleurimont in Paris.
When she does find the time to paint, she enters a state of total focus. “I can’t paint for just one hour. If I paint it has to be the whole day, or like a long stretch,” she says. “I won’t even eat food. I’m gonna be in front of the painting.”
Her show, “Our People,” is a product of Solenn’s travels and her dedication to her craft, comprised of portraits meant to transport viewers to far-off places, from Myanmar to Vietnam to Somalia.
She cites Paul Gauguin, a French post-impressionist who came to be known for his unique approach to color, as an influence in her work. But one must wonder if her background as a makeup artist informs her approach to portraiture. The faces she paints don’t strive for realism, but are expressive regardless.
“Our People” does not pretend to establish itself as the next big thing in Philippine contemporary art. That was not the intended effect. But it is, nonetheless an impressive exhibition of how various subjects and their expressions are contextualized by their place and conditions. It is a show aims to move whoever is willing to be moved, as the subjects of each piece have moved the artist into the act of creation.
“Our People” runs from April 8 to May 8 at Pineapple, 6071 R Palma Street, BGY, Poblacion, 1210, Makati.