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Valentine Pavageau’s Effervescent Universes

Words:

Edd Norval
September 20, 2021

French collage artist Valentin Pavageau’s retro-inspired universes look like celestial landscapes borrowed from iconic movie posters and illusory art. Combining stark colours with a tangible feeling of vastness and foreboding, the artist perfectly captures the sense of being lost in a galaxy far away.

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Transporting us from the comfort of our chosen viewing location (likely wherever we have a smartphone), towards an environment completely alien, yet vaguely familiar, Pavageau’s nostalgic and melancholic images lean on myriad cultural cornerstones, whilst remaining completely independent of any one in particular. 


There’s something psychedelic and interplanetary about the Frenchman’s works, like they’re stills from an experimental 70s music video or a poster for an avante-garde jazz festival. That’s to say they’re extremely evocative of another time and place, without going into exactitudes on exactly when or where that is.


Doused with a healthy dose of mystery, these images ebb and flow between historical periods coming from the use of colour, tone and imagery. Infused with a contemporary sensibility through aesthetics that will set post-internet pulses racing, a philosophical lo-fi vein runs through the illustrations too, stirring notions of the YouTube playlists made for meditative times.

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Loneliness and isolation - eternal subjects - preside thematically over the contents of each. This inherent sadness lends to the images being interpreted with a narrative overlay. Within this framework can we begin to imagine what happens before and after these perfectly curated images are captured. What we're seeing is a snapshot in time that offers a trailer towards the whole story. 


It’s likely that Pavageau is inspired by science-fiction in some shape or form. Many of the images are reminiscent of the genre’s heyday several decades ago, where new technology enabled directors to explore in ways they’d previously been unable to. The sense of wonder that felt from watching those films is present in these images, where lone figures cut a curious shape against various unique backdrops.


Utilising minimal components, we are able to imagine the most detailed narratives, inexplicably linked to our own experiences attached to the various styles that the artist uses as his well of inspiration, all expertly woven through these unique designs. 

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