Laure Prouvost (b. 1978)

Mirror Paintings, a Story of Reflection - Cloud

Image from Mirror Paintings, a Story of Reflection - Cloud by Allen & Overy
Year: 2014
Material: Oil and mixed media collage on metal, mirror
Dimensions: 60 × 60 × 45 cm

Laure Prouvost represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2019 with the project Deep Sea Blue Surrounding You. Using video art, installations and paintings, she transformed the French pavilion into a “surreal, liquid universe” for which she received praise not only from the international press but also from the large numbers of people who lined up to see her work. Deep Sea Blue Surrounding You is the artistic, fairytale-like account of the diverse journeys people take in their lives. These can be personal developments such as growth and maturity, but also very specific journeys from A to B, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes out of necessity. The guiding principle in the installation is Prouvost’s own journey from a Parisian suburb to the beach of Venice, where she literally washed up like a refugee who has just crossed the Mediterranean. In Venice, the term “reflection” quickly arises. The viewer is presented with a Hieronymus Bosch-like mirror, with mythical creatures and burlesque jokers first. But when Prouvost’s odyssey ends on Lido Beach, the harrowing reality kicks in.

The work Mirror Paintings, a Story of Reflection – Cloud is also a reflection, literally even, but of a softer, poetic variety. Prouvost’s image is grounded in a surrealist tradition that is different from Hieronymus Bosch’s, and more like that of his Flemish colleague René Magritte instead. Not only does Magritte almost seem to have a patent on clouds, but he also has a fascination for the paradoxical relationship between language, image and perception.

With Cloud, Prouvost proves to be a worthy heir to Magritte. The work comes from a series of Mirror Paintings. It’s a small installation that is attached to a wall above eye level and can therefore only be viewed from below. The texture and colour of a cloud are painted on a metal plate, which is placed horizontally against the wall. For the viewer, the painting itself can only be seen through a diagonally placed mirror in the form of a cloud that hangs above it, connecting the mirrored cloud with the painted cloud. Two separate objects together create one illusion. Its implementation is as simple as it is effective. The boundary between reality and fiction is blurred. For a moment you can let your thoughts run free, and you can almost hear Magritte whispering “Ceci n’est pas un nuage…”