Artist Spotlight: Leonore Bienert

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Hi Leonore! We are super excited to have this conversation with you. Could you tell a few things about yourself?
Léonore in the studio, courtesy of the artist.
My name is Léonore Bienert and I am 23 years old. I am from Brussels; Belgium and I’m currently living and studying in Ghent.

I am mostly a painter. But I like to work with different materials like wax, pencils and so on. Sometimes I found myself making sculptures and installations, so I rather don’t put myself in a box.

At which moment did you realize you were an artist and decided to pursue this career?

Léonore in the studio, courtesy of the artist.

I always have been interested in art and in making things by myself. When I was a kid, I used to make my own dolls and could spend hours making an entire world for them from scratch. But I really started drawing and painting more intensively in my 4th year of high school when I went to an art school in Brussels.

I think I only really saw myself as an artist about a year and a half ago when I started my master’s in fine arts. That’s when I knew I really wanted to devote my life to making art.

How do you go about ideating your work and then realizing it: what is your creative process?

Most of the time I start with an idea, a reflexion, I have by talking to friends, watching a movie, listening to a podcast, etc. I make a few studies or drawings before getting to painting. A painting leads to another and there are some symbols that repeat themselves and I try to explore this repetition. I have an eye for detail and a sensitivity for colour which makes my way of painting precise, attentive, and rather delicate. At some point, it happens that I forget what I’m painting and get lost in the small particularities of the subject.

At the moment, I’m in a shared studio at my school. I am always working at different paintings at the same time. In this way, because I work with a lot of layers of oil, one painting has time to dry while I’m working on another one.

I create because it has always been the easiest way for me to communicate. I have never been good with words. I know what I want to say, and I put it in an image. I can create my own language by doing so. It is also a more subtle approach to express myself because at the end everyone interprets the work in his own way.

I also see painting and drawing even as a kind of introspection. I am so focused most of the time when I work that I just start to forget about the rest of the world. It is exhausting and peaceful at the same time.

Besides I’m just simply passionate about art and painting brings me a lot. It is very exciting. Every step of the creative process makes me go through a lot of different emotions.

Léonore in the studio, courtesy of the artist.
What are the works you feel are exemplary of your research?

I am working around my own experience of what it means to be a woman today. My art is really related with my reflexion about my role and position in the society. Most of the time there is a message, a problematic I want to transmit with my paintings. My goal is to make anyone reflect with this message.

Intimacy is also a theme that you often can find back in my work, what intimacy represents for me and how I experience it in my everyday life.

Léonore in the studio, courtesy of the artist.
What creators inspire you? Any names you can tell us?

I am inspired by so many contemporary artists such as Alice Neel, Jenny Saville, Catherine Opie, Chloe Wise, David Hockney, Neo Rauch, Ellen Alfest, etc. But also, by old masters like Turner, Raphael, John singer Sargent or Rembrandt. When I lived in Bologna last year, I went regularly to the Morandi museum. He is an artist I really look up to. Morandi has a way of handling colours that is extraordinary. Further I really admire the work of Lucian Freud, one of the best portraitists I have ever seen. More generally, my work is inspired a lot by all the strong women in my life.

Artwork in the studio, courtesy of the artist.

What is the central concept to the experience of creating your work?

I’ve always tried to break with this passive/active relationship artists have with models. I like them to be more involved with the work, so relationships with models have always been interesting experiences to me. Seeing their way of interpreting a project, like my Period Boobs series, made me very proud. I asked them to take a picture of their breast while being on their period. The purpose was to take a photograph of themselves in a position in which they would feel comfortable in their body. A picture that would embrace the physical changes that our body, and in this case our breasts, go through during menstruation.

Now I am still in this kind of protective and comfortable environment that an art school offers. I can just focus on making works and talking about them without having this pressure of making a living out of it. So, I’m not confronted with the commercial side of the art world that much. But I think finding my place as a young artist in the art world today will take a lot of effort.

At an exhibition, courtesy of the artist.

What is your relationship to art collectors? What do you think makes them interested in your work?

Why is anyone interested in art in general? That is very personal. For me it’s about making the viewer relate and reflect with the message he sees in the work. My paintings are my way of expressing thoughts and reflexions; that makes me part of something bigger than myself. I believe that is a feeling the audience and collectors are interested in.

Léonore in the studio, courtesy of the artist.
What are the projects you are currently focused on?

For now, I am especially focusing on the graduation show of my last year of master’s. All the other projects are secret for now ;)

Written by
Jagienka Parteka