Viewing Ciou’s work is akin to sipping effervescent poison - an intoxicating mixture of wonderland and nightmares.
Ciou (pronounced see-you) has an uncanny knack for combining the playful innocence of youth with the deeply somber stirrings of death. Her ghoulish angels frolic amongst perky skull flowers, bat wings and happy demonic trees, all while cheerfully serving morbid demise on a gilded platter. It is arresting to view the juxtaposition of her girls, bunnies and squirrels gleefully prancing in metaphoric graveyards seemingly oblivious to their own pain and suffering.
Her work is a mixture of acrylics and inks often composed upon a collaged background. He backgrounds are created with a wide variety of ephemeral materials including aged dictionaries, medical and science texts, vintage nature annuals and even vinyl records.
Wake Up the Dead, 2009
A Forest, 2009
Ciou has been exhibiting internationally since 2004, and in 2009 she had her first solo show “Nymph” at the Kochxbos Gallery in Amsterdam (where she is also represented). A notable 2010 exhibition, “Mysterious Flowers,” was at Roq la Rue in Seattle. Many of the artworks from the show may be viewed on the Roq la Rue blog (including artworks still available for purchase).
In the past, when Ciou had more time, she often made one-of a kind plush dolls.
The cover and inside of the book “Chat Siamois” plus a few special treats. (image courtesy of her good friend Jessica Louise)
Ciou at a book signing creating incredible personalized illustrations for her very lucky fans.
An in-depth review of the book and a few of Ciou’s various projects can be found on artist Barbara Canepa‘s blog Vendusa. An additional review can be found at M Arte Live. “Chat Siamois” can also still be found on Ebay and through Amazon.
Other publications featuring Ciou’s work include the book “Sweet Illustrations”…
The magazine “Hey”…
and Issue 61 of Elegy (to name just a few).
Ciou’s studio is rich with visual inspiration. A lovely studio visit with many more photos can be seen at Rough Dreams.
Preparing for her current exhibit “Black Parade” at KochxBos Gallery Amsterdam. (photo courtesy of Rough Dreams)
Artwork for the current show “Black Parade” at KochxBos Gallery Amsterdam.
Artwork for 2010 solo show “Mysterious Flowers,” at Roq la Rue.
Ciou is currently exhibiting her solo show, “Black Parade” at KochxBos Gallery in Amsterdam. The exhibit is only open one more week, through April 30th, 2011 — so if you are lucky enough to be in Amsterdam, please hurry to catch the show before it closes!
KochxBos Gallery Amsterdam
Eerste Anjeliersdwarsstraat 5
1015 NR Amsterdam
Tel: 020 – 6814567 (06-22240808)
Contact Hans Bos / Esther Koch : email@example.com
Poster available for purchase from the show.
Gallery owners and curators, Esther Koch and Hans Bos with Ciou at the opening.
A special exhibit t-shirt for sale and one of the many graphics painted on the wall for the show.
Below are a few more paintings from the show.
Ciou is a part of the group show “The New Lost Generation” at the Mondo Bizarro Gallery, in Rome, IT. The show runs thru May 19th.
Ciou was kind enough to grant an interview. Below are a few questions I ask everyone, plus an excerpt from an interview with Philippe Pourhashemi.
What artists or creative person has influenced you?
Frida Kahlo, Diane Airbus, Camille Rose Garcia, Mark Ryden, Gustave Doré, Takato Yamamoto, freaks, tattoo artist, my boyfriend Sebastien Nassiet Saldubehere, he is also a painter.
Not including other artists or art, what inspires you?
I love collecting animal skeletons, nature, lowbrow, primitive art, religious art, Japanese culture, taxidermy, pin ups, cemeteries, carnivals and circuses, mysticism, horror movies, seventies memorabilia, specialty Bambi toys and vinatge toys, tattoo, cemetery…. and a lot of things, my eyes are open wide all the time
What is the part of your process you enjoy the most?
I enjoy all the process, so it’s hard to answer, love to draw and paint. It’s all my life, always thinking about new art, and always doing, so it’s just pleasure to do it.
If you were NOT an artist, what would you be doing?
I think I will be a musician because I am so in love with music. I learnt to play the piano in the age of 6 . That’s why I can’t draw or paint without music, I can listen hardcore, new wave, stoner, punk, indepop or rockabilly… I am a music geek .
An interesting interview was contucted by Philippe Pourhashemi. Below is an excerpt or you may read the full interview here:
Philippe : How would you define your style?
Ciou : Recently, foreign critics have associated me with lowbrow art. It’s an American movement I feel totally comfortable with. I share many references with these artists, such as rock music, tatoos, comics, B horror movies, as well as Mexican culture, el dia de los muertos and Posada’s etchings. Still, my work has always been strongly influenced by Japanese culture. Hokusai’s work has always fascinated me, as well as Japanese drawing and representation techniques. I love this culture, because it’s intense and extreme. I like to define what I do as “Nekro Kawai”.
Philippe : Your images are tender and cruel at the same time. How do you explain such duality?
Ciou : I work on these aspects, because I feel that they reflect life. I’m very interested in vanity. Representing the skull -which is one of its most famous forms- is necessary to stress this idea. My characters evolve in a context that is hostile and wonderful at the same time. Dreams and nightmares overlap. The women I choose to represent in my work are strong, close to nymphs that are in harmony with nature. I want to express strong emotions, which we normally don’t voice or keep hidden inside. I take these feelings and give them a stage.
Philippe : What are the traditions and cultures you feel attracted to, besides the ones you’ve already talked about?
Ciou : There’s always a strong narrative element within my work. I like telling personal stories, through which feelings find a second life. The viewer is in a position to appropriate it or draw parallels with his or her own story. I always intend on putting women at the forefront within my figurative work. It expresses all kinds of feelings, violence, softness, magic or fear. It doesn’t matter what they are or where they come from. I just have to show them.
You may view a great deal more work and stay abreast of current event’s on Ciou’s website.
Thank you for your time Ciou!