Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies

Last updated:

Yes, the title of this interview is raw and provocative. Here it is again: ‘Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies.’ This phrase, cheekily borrowed from artist Lucie Mercier, refers to her self-portrait that offers a close-up view of Mercier engaged in a sensuous act. Mercier cleverly uses ‘pussies‘ as a metaphor in this piece, which refers to her paintings that predominantly focus on women. Mercier captures herself in an intimate moment with fruit, depicting herself with her lips pressed against the bright yellow flesh of a mango.

The painting, rendered with meticulous attention to detail, highlights the textured qualities of both skin and fruit. The candidness of the subject matter stands out, distinct from a posed sitter. The subject’s closed eyes and slight furrow of their brow, amidst a backdrop free of distractions, hint at a private moment of pleasure between women, resonating with the essence of queer love.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
Lucie Mercier
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier

I prefer to show the complexity instead of being too literal. I get my inspiration from women; I listen to them, read their books, watch their movies, and other things they create

Lucie Mercier

Based in France, Mercier is redefining the gaze and emphasizing the significance of a woman’s world. She playfully challenges the traditional male-female dynamic in the artist-muse relationship, offering a thought-provoking perspective.

Mercier, a graduate of the architecture school in Lille, France, shifted to painting in 2021. Her work delves into themes of feminism, mental health, and empowerment, questioning the representation norms of the female body.

The themes Mercier explores are deeply personal and significant to her. They shape her outlook, her relationships, and dominate her conversations. They inspire her, and this inspiration is what she seeks to share. Mercier invites viewers to perceive the world through the female gaze, aestheticizing everyday life with a political undertone, infused with the joy of sisterhood, power, and feminine rage.In her upcoming March exhibition, ‘I’m Just A Girl,’ at BrusselsBallon Rouge, Mercier draws inspiration from No Doubt’s 1995 hit ‘Just a Girl.’

This song, emblematic of female empowerment and a critique of gender stereotypes, resonates with the theme of her exhibition. ‘I’m Just A Girl‘ showcases Mercier’s ‘simple utopias’ – delicate portrayals of moments suspended in time where emotions such as sweetness, anger, and a poetic essence intertwine. The focus is on the multifaceted female experience, ranging from reflections on other women to shared moments, encompassing romantic, sexual, spiritual, and introspective connections.

Mercier’s work tells the story of a multifaceted girl through ‘girly’ moments that are candid yet personal, fun yet serious, with a keen emphasis on the play of light and shadow, reminiscent of classical portraiture. Her brushwork is smooth yet deliberate. Encountering Mercier paintings means embracing her perspective – the female gaze – where the woman is both artist and muse. This is how she sees the world: a woman sharing her privacy and emotions, representing herself as a subject rather than an object. Mercier’s work evokes the senses, drawing the viewer into a shared moment of tactile pride and vulnerability.

We managed to catch up with Mercier ahead of her exhibition at Ballon Rouge to learn more about her practice, inspiration, and more.

Hi Lucie, could you share with us your journey into the arts and any influences or moments that propelled you toward an artistic career? 

Lucie Mercier: Art was never an option for me. I grew up in a family where it simply didn’t exist. Yet I have always been creative and productive, mostly drawing and writing of, which has resulted in a huge amount of archives and sketchbooks. I started to study applied art, then moved to design, and then finally architecture school – which I graduated in 2017. After several bad professional experiences and during the healing process of depression, I followed the recommendation of my therapist and started to paint for myself at the end of 2021. It quickly took a significant place in my life until I quit my job in June 2023 to be a full-time artist.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
yes, most of my paintings are about pussies, 2023
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier
After years in architecture, you shifted to painting. How has your architectural background influenced your approach to painting, particularly in spatial composition and structural elements in your works?

Lucie Mercier: Architecture impacts both my work visually and my working process. The aesthetic of representation in architecture like photography and rendering are influenced by technical drawings such as sections and elevations. These drawings are very orthogonal and it has a strong impact on the way I draw and I take pictures. My freehand sketches are very imprecise and I like it, but for my paintings I use a ruler, I create false perspectives and draw perfectly symmetrical objects… this is undoubtedly influenced by years of working on Autocad (technical drawing software). Also, during my studies, we had to create images that represent our projects and show their future uses.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
The Last Harvest, 2023
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier

We were doing collages on Photoshop to apply materials, objects and people on a white model. I think it was a good exercise to tell a story with one image that helps the viewers to project themself into something that doesn’t yet exist. Graphic design was not taught at school so I learnt everything by myself and was always digging for new inspirations. I was also making images for my friends after my exams. It was by far my favourite part, and I still use this method today for my paintings’ preparatory drawings.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
Self Medication
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier
Building on this, your practice explores themes such as politics, feminism, mental health and empowerment. Could we delve deeper into your practice, your inspirations, and the significance of these themes in your work?

Lucie Mercier: These topics are very important to me and are bound to my daily life. They influence my outlook on things, the choice of my loved ones, the topic of a lot of conversations, what moves me, and what I want to share. I talk about it using intimacy and images with different layers of understanding. I prefer to show the complexity instead of being too literal. I get my inspiration from women; I listen to them, read their books, watch their movies, and other things they create.

Moreover, your work aims to reframe the female body, transitioning it from being perceived as an object to being recognized as a subject, challenging conventional representation through the female gaze and redefining nudity. How do you navigate this transition in your work, and what are the critical visual or thematic elements you employ to facilitate this shift?

Lucie Mercier: Simply because this is how I see things, I am a woman who shares her privacy and feelings, so I naturally represent myself as a subject rather than an object. I show my pride and vulnerability. It is also how I perceive those who surround me. I guess this is what happens when people express themselves subjectively. It’s the diversity of gazes which is interesting. I can see beauty in a body without sexualising it because, in this society, I was taught to take care of others’ bodies.

I invite the viewer to see through my gaze – but changing people who perceive us as objects is not my main goal. I do it because we need more representation. Practically, it means that I attempt to figure out feelings or sensations. It’s not easy to show senses like touch or taste with a visual object but I try to do it with details, close-up and a very subjective point of view and framing.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
Those girls who love nature, 2023
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier
Your paintings capture everyday life with a unique vernacular perspective. How do you choose the daily elements to include in your art, and what process do you use to transform these ordinary aspects into messages with deeper political or social meanings?

Lucie Mercier: I think I was just tired of not seeing enough images that appealed to me so I’m trying to create them, thinking about what I needed to see when I was younger. I choose past, future, or imaginary moments that speak to me because they are funny, beautiful, or painful, little things with deeper meanings, or I build a picture to portray the memory of a feeling. What makes them political is to show them publicly, using art to represent topics considered irrelevant for too long.

Sometimes, you can resist simply by existing, even more if you are part of a minority. What looks universal and banal for us might be considered as never seen or subversive for others. Honestly, I don’t work a lot on the images; most of the time, I draw what I see in my head in one simple sketch. The image comes first, the explanation afterwards.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
Polly Pocket II, 2023
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier
Your upcoming exhibition, “I’m Just A Girl” is inspired by No Doubt’s 1995 hit “Just A Girl”, featuring a series of works infused with punk feminist politics and aesthetics. Could you tell us more about the essence of the exhibition and the story behind its title?

Lucie Mercier: I don’t know this movement enough to label myself as punk. This particular music came back to me as a meme on the internet. It depicts the feminine complexity, a mix of anger and cuteness. “We are fighting, but at the end of the day, we want to lay in bed and do our nails.” But it’s a joke among women, where we can be vulnerable knowing we will find mutual support and sisterhood.

I think it fits with my paintings, which play with contradiction or show little things with deeper meanings. Like the song says “Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite, so don’t let me have any rights” or “I can’t do the little things I hold so dear, Cause it’s all those little things that I fear”. Injunctions are so numerous that there is no need for much to be considered as rebellious.

Considering the artistic process is non-linear and often cyclical, how do you keep your creative drive thriving amidst the distractions and external influences of the outside world?

Lucie Mercier: My problem is mostly the other way around. I have hyper fixation phases in which I need to develop strategies to keep myself within the “outside world”. It’s even more intense now that I work alone at home, with absolutely no one to impose a schedule. I make a to-do list to remind myself to open my mailbox, pay my bills, buy food or watch a movie. My life is full of adventures and very unpredictable, and this is where I get my inspiration from : the love I receive, the internet, the horrible news, grief… I have way more ideas that I have time to paint them. I’m still learning to not fight this rhythm but to accept it as a part of the job.

Lucie Mercier: Yes, most of my paintings are about pussies
Logic coco, 2023, acrylic on paper, 65 x 50 cm.
Image courtesy of the artist and Ballon Rouge
© Lucie Mercier
Looking to the future, are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you are particularly excited about? Are there new themes or methods you wish to explore in your work? 

Lucie Mercier: For now, my main goal is to be able to have an atelier or a bigger place to live and work, which is not easy in Paris. Then I’ll be able to paint on canvas and do bigger formats, with oil painting maybe. I would love to do art residencies. I am not worried about inspiration, and I’m curious to discover what I will paint in the future.

Lastly, what significance does art hold for you? 

Lucie Mercier: Art saved my life. 

https://www.instagram.com/lubie3000/

ballonrougecollective.com

Lucie Mercier: I’m Just A Girl opens on the 16th of March until the 18th of May, 2024 at Ballon Rouge

©2024 Lucie Mercier

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop
PERRIER® + STARCK® Limited Edition