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RÉTRO À LA FRANÇAISE
Majo Aguilar in Conversation with Juliette Ramos, Parisian Collage Artist, on her work inspired by French Nouvelle Vague
México City, May 27th, 2022
We express ourselves as we please. Some of us are talkative and others aren’t, some people enjoy making music and others do something more quiet, like writing. Modern life allows us to share what we enjoy with the world with just a click, people can show off their talents and discuss their passions with hundreds of others who might have the same interest and feel the same love towards the same things. Films and paintings have a strong, yet little known connection, but artist Juliette Ramos, owner of @juliette.retroparis knows how to portray it. Colorful scenarios and never-seen-before plots make Nouvelle Vague a time for filmmaking like no other, the 1960s spark of rebellion and change are captured in every story, from Truffaut to Chabrol, what these films made for future cinema is immeasurable. Here, we discuss Juliette´s collage work and love for her retro national cinema.
Juliette, thank you so much for the time. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
My activity as an artist is not really what I do for living, so I did art studies. I went to art school in France and then I started to work as a designer in advertising in London. I lived in London for three years and then I came back to Paris, and decided to create this Instagram page while Covid was going on. It had me thinking, what should I do? I wanted to express my passions. Since I'm very passionate about cinema, specifically French Nouvelle Vague cinéma, like 60s and 70s, and also arts since I went to art school and it’s related to my job, I had the idea to mix the french icons that I love so much like Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, with famous paintings that people could recognize. So I did that for myself because I liked it and one day some people liked it as well. They would start to say my work made them feel really good and I loved to hear that. So I kept going, but this is mainly like a hobby/passion.
So, you say you are very passionate about cinema, mostly French, and it’s an uncommon thing, at least to me, to get to know someone who loves their national cinema. Where I’m from people are not that passionate towards their own country's films. How did you become so interested in your own country’s cinema?
First of all, I would say French Cinema is quite something. Not to undervalue the others, but I think that specifically during the 60s and 70s, it was something new, it was something that was never seen before so they were precursors and unique to this type of cinema- so that’s what I really like. Also, it’s an era I never lived in, but I feel a kind of nostalgia about it, it’s a bit of everything, it’s not only the cinema but the people, the style, the mannerisms, the way of life, it’s a mix of everything that I really worship that era.
I know the Cannes Film Festival is being held in France right now. How do French people react to this massive event? Because besides being an art-dedicated festival, it is also a massive event.
French people that are not involved in cinema don’t really care about that because it's more like a thing for seeing and being seen- there’s a lot of money spent on this type of thing, it's more about the gossip, they go "Oh the dress looks nice" or "No, it looks sh*t."
I feel like these types of events are becoming hypocritical more and more, specially the César Awards, because they always speak on important topics like feminism or war but it gets mixed up and becomes weird, and you don’t even know anymore if they are saying those things only because they are in the spotlight, or is it really to pass a message and give voice to everyone? For example, a woman in Cannes appeared naked with "Stop Raping Us" on her body in reference to the war in Ukraine. I respect that, because sadly it’s the only way to be seen, so I understand why she did that.
I have seen some French films, and I think my favorite director is Eric Rohmer. I want to know who your favorite director is and what made you fall in love with his films?
I would say my all time favorite is Jaques Demy, but I also love Eric Rohmer, he is really unique and the way they say things in his films… as a non french speaker, I don’t know if you get the way they say things because I don't know if you can hear that, sadly, but it’s very unique, the way they speak. It’s not only the scenery, it is really good. But I’m actually surprised you know these directors because even in France I have met actors, I mean, not so famous ones, and I ask them if they like Rohmer and most of the time they don’t know who he is, and they are French and actors, and I’m really shocked.
What film by Demy made you fall in love with his work?
Definitely Peau D'âne (1970), it is a famous tale from Charles Perrault, and it is a very old tale, so he [Demy], transformed it into a movie, and after all it is a fairy tale- you know, fairies, princesses, kings, princes and all. So it is appropriate for kids, you know he is all about love and songs, but it is also for adults, it is so pure and beautiful. You are in a very magic world, it was his own world, his mind was creating something else and it’s refreshing. I would say his movies are always unique and beautiful and make you dream.
How do you decide what to mix in your artwork?
I like triptychs so I always work with the three posts that are lined- they should have the same color scheme. What I do is look into my photo library and see all that I have saved, then I look at paintings I also have saved and when I see then the idea that comes to my mind and I think about what could go well with which piece.
I think your country has a lot of icons, maybe the most famous female icons are Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot and male icon is Alain Delon. Who are the most iconic for you? Who are your favorites and why?
For actresses, I would say Catherine, Brigitte and Romy Schneider. They are my three favorites, they are very different, Brigitte is very natural and full of joy and passion. She won’t calculate, she is just herself, very natural. Catherine is more cold and will calculate things and be in very deep and strong roles, and Romy appears so cold and strong but she is so sensitive and broken inside with her life and background so in front of the camera they are amazing, and they are also very beautiful. In this era they didn’t change things about themselves like we do today, like the Kardashian era (that I really hate). They remind me of how there is natural beauty in everyone.
About men, I think I like Jean-Paul Belmondo because he has something crazy about himself, he did all his stunts himself, like Tom cruise today. When he was young he used to play more subtle and serious roles and he was also amazing, very unique. I also love Alain Delon, because he is so handsome but also because he had a very rough life in which he wasn’t very appreciated as a kid so it built his very strong personality that gives to him some mystery. Like Brigitte Bardot, they took him because he was himself, in his first role they told him, "just stay as you are, do as you are." I would pick this five.
Collage by @juliette.retroparis
La volupté, Madeleine Lemaire
Collage by @juliette.retroparis
BB pour Ghislain Dussart
Birth of Venus, Botticelli
𝐶’𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑙𝑎 𝑛𝑢𝑖𝑡 𝑞𝑢’𝑖𝑙 𝑒𝑠𝑡 𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑢 𝑑𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑖𝑟𝑒 𝑎̀ 𝑙𝑎 𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑖𝑒̀𝑟𝑒 ~ 𝐸𝑑𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑑 𝑅𝑜𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑
Collage by @juliette.retroparis ✨
Edouard Cortes, Belle Epoque Paris
"I would say French Cinema is quite something. Not to undervalue the others, but I think that specifically during the 60s and 70s, it was something new, it was something that was never seen before...it’s an era I never lived in, but I feel a kind of nostalgia about it, it’s a bit of everything, it’s not only the cinema but the people, the style, the mannerisms, the way of life, it’s a mix of everything that I really worship that era."
I agree with you about the women of this era, they were so classy and I love that about them.
Yes! That’s the word to describe them, they were classy in their manners and the way they expressed themselves. But there are very bad things about this era, and I would not want to live in this era, because women had no rights. It was very beautiful aesthetically but awful to live in. Of course there are negative things, and we are very lucky to be in our times. About the Kardashian stuff, I was referring to this story with the Marilyn Monroe dress at the MET Gala. For me it was a nightmare, how could she have the audacity to think she could- I mean it’s history, the dress is not only a dress, it is a work of art, it needs to be in a museum. It’s like if she would buy Versailles and go "Oh, it’s my summer house now," as crazy as it sounds. Marylin was an icon too, I was very shocked.
Are classic French films influenced by other art?
Definitely. Jaques Demy, that’s why I love him so much, was a perfectionist. Everything he did, the colors, the choice of the scenery, the songs… Everything was art, music, photography, dance, everything. For example when there were a lot of actors singing he would have them do playback to professional singers. His most famous movie, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), was for him like a little Matisse. He got inspired by Henri Matisse to do all the scenery, the paper on the walls- and it was very colorful and he used the patterns Matisse used. As well as in Peau D'ane, he used a lot of painters and artists, he was inspired by a famous artist of the era, he was a contemporary artist that used blue shades and even blue people, so in the film you have this weird vibe where people are painted in blue. Very Artsy.
"Jaques Demy, that’s why I love him so much, was a perfectionist. Everything he did, the colors, the choice of the scenery, the songs… Everything was art, music, photography, dance, everything. For example when there were a lot of actors singing he would have them do playback to professional singers. His most famous movie, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), was for him like a little Matisse. He got inspired by Henri Matisse to do all the scenery, the paper on the walls- and it was very colorful and he used the patterns Matisse used."
There has always been this stereotype of the french girl, I think almost every country has a stereotype for their women. The “French Girl” is always very classy but at the same time melancholic. Do you think that Nouvelle Vague films influenced this stereotype?
Sure. It’s a very interesting question because I had never thought about that. But you’re right because the very famous vibe that people have, even nowadays, about French Girls is still vintage. There are so many brands, many in Paris, that sell retro styles. This time period spread an image to the world. To be honest, French girls are not like that, it’s just an image. It’s quite flattering as a french woman, but we are annoyed about the reputation that we have of being rude and always being upset, and being very bad with tourists, which is kind of true, we love to complain a lot. And we are also tired of the reputation the french have of being unfaithful, it’s not true.
What do you think Nouvelle Vague did for actresses nowadays in your country?
I don’t think it’s specifically Nouvelle Vague that would do things for women, but just men and patriarchy and society that makes us always below them, and earn less money and everything is harder for us. But I feel it’s getting better because if we compare the 60s and today, it’s way better. Everyone can be seen in the movies, like trans and non-binary people, everyone can play a role. I think it’s a very good evolution but it’s still quite hard for women because there is a huge difference with old actors, who are still famous and have very good roles, and with women, when they reach a certain age you don’t see them very often in the movies unless they are very famous. There’s still this huge gap.
Collage by @juliette.retroparis
Jean-Paul Belmondo et Françoise Dorléac dans L’homme de Rio
de Philippe de Broca 1964
Nymphéas, Claude Monet
What film would you like to suggest to our readers?
Since it will be summer very soon I will suggest La Piscine (1969). As well as A Plein Soleil (1960), Also And God Created Woman (1956) and Le Mépris (1963), that one is a little more artsy and when you asked if cinema is related to art, it definitely does and can be seen in this one, it’s very nice to see that one in summer. The last one… César and Rosalie (1972). I could continue for hours! One last one with Belmondo would be L'homme de Rio (1964)
Thank you so much! Keep the great work with your account I love it.
Thank you! Bye.
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