An Artist’s Legacy As Told Through Bronze and Glass
Alliance Française de Singapour and REDSEA Gallery present Val, A Legacy, bringing to life the enchanting bronze and glass forms of late artist Valérie Goutard, as part of the French Excellence programme.
For an established artist, it’s one thing to be recognised by one’s full name, and another to be well-known simply by a nickname, a shortened form usually reserved for family or lovers. The sense of pride that professional recognition gives to people are processed a little differently for them; the familiarity their work reputation brings about is a testament to the devotion these artists have for their craft, and moreover, a display of how a type of warmth usually reserved for their most intimate circles is carried into and celebrated within their respective industries or areas of specialisation.
Val, short for Valérie Goutard, is a prime example of an artist whose entire life embodies a romantic kind of spirituality, possessing an almost innocent bewilderment of the world that emanates this still-pulsating warmth. Before the French-born sculptress passed away due to a tragic motorcycle accident, she was a child of many cultures, growing up across South America, Africa and Europe, before settling in Bangkok in 2014, to pursue art.
She took this constant displacement in her stride, her love of being a foreigner reflected in the way her magnetic bronze works draw in its viewers like bees to honey, a mirror of the humanity that it was made with and is currently reflecting — piercing yet sensitive, foreign yet familiar, her lanky figurines inspiring curiosity in perspective and emotion.
To top it off, she is entirely self-taught, intuitive with a stroke of brilliance that saw bronze coming together with glass as a gift to the art of sculpture in itself. After all, her love of the patina-laden material led her to plant her roots in the only country in the world that has managed to keep this ancient artisan industry alive.
Despite being a natural at this trade, the late artist only got her break after participating in the Shanghai Art Fair in 2010 and the Jing’An International Sculpture Park Project with her first monumental sculpture, “Urban Life”. In the years following this critically acclaimed performance, she put on even more exhibitions and public installations all over Asia and Europe, creating sculptures that are the signature of her creative and sculptural vision.
A particularly notable mention that showcases her love of the environment and making her art a part of it is “Ocean Utopia”, a collection of bronze and marine concrete structures fixed on the seabed of Koh Tao in Thailand. What was once barren and filled with what Val describes as “ugly” structures is now brimming with life, the flourishing of corals, anemones, shellfish, and other sea creatures transforming the space into a sanctuary. Put together just a few months shy of her tragic death in October 2016; this remains to date one of the most significant projects from under her care, put together by her husband Frédéric Morel — who is also the mastermind behind this show — in an ode to their shared love for diving.
More recently, in 2022, her artworks were featured in an institutional exhibition as part of the off-exhibition of the Venice Art Biennale. That’s the gravity-defying impact she continues to leave behind despite leaving us at such a young age. We’re blessed to have so many pieces of her brilliance and love of natural rhythm, space and patterns left behind and accessible thanks to her husband and the ever-expanding art landscape even today.
Held concomitantly at Alliance Française de Singapour and REDSEA Gallery, from 12 October to 18 November, Val, A Legacy, part of the French Excellence programme, will showcase never before seen works as a tribute to the late artist and her.
This article was first published on mens-folio.com
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