Residency location: TBD
Valentin Rilliet is a visual artist born in Geneva who currently lives and works in Zürich, Switzerland. His main artistic practice currently focuses on painting. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (2020) and he recently obtained his MFA in Fine Arts at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (2023).
Rilliet’s work manifests as visual interpretations of mythologies, symbolism, popular culture and allegories. The compilation of personal and pictorial archives against the unpremeditated process of oil painting collides the narratives into magical realism, forging a connection between fantasy and reality as well as raising the question of authenticity in his cultural references. By combining fictional and documentary, a dialogue is articulated on the canvas, as a method to deconstruct, collect and contemplate the multiplicity of interpretations over a seemingly real —or fabricated— memory.
In the past two years, Rilliet has been exploring the visual exchanges between his Eastern heritage and the Western artistic canon he was brought up with, emphasising the cultural differences painting can embody. Exploring China’s history has become the core of his practice, a history that has been widely denied by his Western education.
In early 2022, he started a research project to further understand his use of historical references, ranging from personal archives, socio-political art, and popular folktales. This research is, in essence, an attempt to acknowledge the influence of Chinese history in his work and his personal upbringing as a mixed-race man, as well as confront it with a non-Western mentality.
“I hope to familiarise myself with the Chinese artistic landscape as well as open a dialogue on the question of transculturality. What differences and resemblances can we discern in the politics of identity that are discussed in the global art scene, but also locally? My goal is, through the naked eye, to situate my practice within a new framework of representation and attempt to disengage with the Eurocentric perspective that has influenced me thus far.
I wish to establish a connection with the local Chinese contemporary art scene, as well as gain a deeper understanding of its cultural legacy by directly interacting with the local artists. I am excited to navigate through the art communities and collectives, in order to investigate the local dynamics of artists’ representation and artistic effort.
During my stay, I aim to produce a concise body of visual work that will reflect my time abroad, as I re-question the possible parallels, contradictions and problematics between my Western point of view and China. I also hope to initiate discussions on the question of transculturality, i.e. the understanding and appropriation of one’s own history and identity, and what the global and domestic art market’s influence signifies in specific cultural contexts. Eventually, engaging with the Chinese art community will contribute to closing up the gap between my dual heritage, reconciling a certain disparity of cultures that is visible within my own practice.”