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Valérie Belin: All Star

For this series, All Star, Belin utilizes the fantastical world of vintage comic books as the inspiration for multilayered portraits that are both visually and psychologically complex.  To create the works, Belin first styles and photographs her models in dramatic lighting reminiscent of film noir.  Then, selecting from an extensive collection of vintage comics, she overlays the image with the chosen comic cover before further abstracting the pictorial surface with her own graphic patterns.  Bursting in from the background, the worlds of the comics interweave with the texture of the portraits to create a sophisticated composition in which variations of movement, line, depth of field and scale are all combined within one surface.

The series continues Belin’s investigations of the ideas of surface, beauty, artifice, and disorder that have become consistent themes in her practice; however, in this new body of work she takes her considerations further to explore the disarray of not only the physical but also a mental world that is chaotic, saturated, and obsessive.

Borrowing from the tradition of pop artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Belin utilizes graphic and exuberant comics as a source for greater psychological exploration.  Ranging from the empowered story of Super Girl to the dramatic passion seen in the image Confessions of the Lovelorn, each comic tells a different story and supplies an alternate narrative for the woman pictured.  Belin imagines these women in a reality apart from, yet connected to, the fantastical realm of the comics, and she likens the spiraling composition of imagery to the flurry of ideas and imaginings within the women’s minds.  

Through her combination of the darker film noir depiction of the model with the glowing idealism of the comics, Belin constructs a new genre where the distinctions between polar ideals such as good and evil, right and wrong, and joy and despair become more elaborate and ambiguous.