A quirkiness that creates joy

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We visited Antwerp artist Loïc Devaux’s exhibition, Recent Paintings. His colourful large-scale works are inspired by the American Dream, colour, pattern and design. Loïc is a collector of beautiful objects and hopes his paintings can bring happiness to people. Through loaning out his paintings, the organisation Kunst in Huis helps Loïc’s visual world of contemporary pop to be seen and shared.

Hello, can you introduce yourself?

My name is Loïc Devaux. I’m 26 years old and I’ve lived in Antwerp my whole life. I have always been interested in comics and cartoons, anything that is vibrant and colourful. I have always drawn a lot and that’s why, from an early age, I was advised to go to art school. I spent my whole time in high school without any idea of what I was going to do. Then I got to know about my favourite artists. I started experimenting and painting and that’s how I arrived here.

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Was it always painting for you or did you explore other disciplines?

No, actually I hated painting until I found out about some of my favourite artists like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. They were artists who showed me that painting doesn’t have to be about painting realistically. That’s what I hated, dabbling with a brush and struggling with small, detailed work, that was not for me. I work with oil sticks, like big crayons of oil paint, on large scale canvases. They allow me to make refined work, but still create a painterly effect when you see them up close.

What are you inspired by? What’s your subject matter?

I started with biographical paintings including portraits of friends, family and myself, then people I admired, athletes, musicians and eventually the designers who designed the objects that I collected. The first painting of this series is called MVP which stands for Most Valuable Present, a thermos from my grandfather. This was the start of a whole collection of vintage thermos flasks; I now have around 60 or something. I like to visit thrift stores and find gems. What inspired most of these works is very much iconography, things that are very recognisable: sports, fast food and breakfast. 

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You also seem to like patterns?

I used to paint a lot of patterns. As you can tell I’m very boldly dressed, very colourful. I used to wear a lot of bright clothing and get laughed at. I put these frustrations into painting. Blowing them up and turning negative into positive, making people laugh. There’s a quirkiness that creates joy.

Could you tell us about your cooperation with Kunst in Huis? They loan out art as well as selling it?

Yes, I’ve been with them for two or three months. They have nine of my paintings and last time I checked eight of the pieces were already lent out. So it’s nice. I’ve seen they have a gift card for Christmas, so you can give someone a painting for a few months. It’s making art more accessible to people. As you can tell, most of the paintings are very large-scale. I’m also an overproducer, I have a whole series already in my head and then end up making ten or fifteen paintings, so I have a few pieces sitting in tubes. So, Kunst in Huis is very convenient, they have a large crowd and also cater to businesses, offices,hotels and places with bigger walls. It’s great because now more people will see my work. 

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If you could borrow a piece from any artist from Kunst In Huis for your apartment, who would you chose?

I’d pick the work of Guillaume Bijl who’s known for his installations. He turns galleries, museums and art fair booths into a casino, laundromat or travel agency. It makes you question the everyday. At the same time, there’s a certain amount of kitsch in his work which is also the case for my most recent paintings.

Tell me about being from Antwerp.

Antwerp has encouraged me to go big. It’s a small city, which can be limiting, but it also encouraged me to break out in a major way. I’m not sure if it’s shaped me so much as an artist, In my original paintings based on friends and family you could spot some references to this city. I really look up to artists here like Ben Sledsens and Rinus van de Velde, but in general, most of my influences come from the United States. The American Dream took over. I have a love/hate relationship with this place. It’s where I know everything and everyone, but at the same time, my work is not necessarily for the more traditional people here.

So what is the dream for you?

It’s basically just being able to do what I do now: have a show on a regular basis, being able to do what I like. At the same time, I’m happy with the smaller things in life. Finding nice objects and being able to paint them, that’s what I call happiness. 

I have another show coming up where I’m going to show some smaller works. I’m planning to zoom in on some objects and create a play of lines and shapes.

Finding nice objects and being able to paint them, that’s what I call happiness

<div class="editorial-banner"> <div class=“editorial-credits”> @loicdevaux / @kunstinhuis <br/> Want to make the end of the year even more magical than it already is? Then an art cheque is the ideal Christmas gift for under the Christmas tree or as a New Year gift. After all, with an art cheque you bring a little magic to your loved ones, family and friends at home. It allows you to lend art to someone's home for 3, 6 or 12 months. Moreover, you support home-grown artists this way. <br/> kunstinhuis.be </div></div>

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