Daisy de Villeneuve, artist and writer, on a painting she bought in Mexico
GB Tell me why you chose this.
DdeV I chose it because I like naïve artwork and I love Mexico. I loved that trip especially. I bought a few of those paintings from the flea market and I wish I’d bought more. I love colour and I use lots of colour in my work so it was just really appealing to me.
GB Did you meet the artist?
DdeV Yes, I think it’s a father and son. I wish I’d bought much more from them. I don’t know what it’s painted with, acrylic maybe and it’s about 8 inches tall.
GB What’s going on it?
DdeV They’re getting married and he’s wearing a wrestler’s mask.
GB Why’s he wearing that?
DdeV I don’t know. To be funny…?
GB Do you think that’s to appeal to tourists?
DdeV Maybe but I thought it was cute! I don’t know if this art would appeal to tourists. He didn’t know that I was an artist but I wanted to buy them all for my artist friends. It’s signed and he has works online but they’re more expensive.
GB Do you think you found it more beautiful because you were there, in Mexico? Would you still find it beautiful if you saw it in Camden market?
DdeV That’s a really good point! I probably wouldn’t! I’ve never thought of that before! But then when other people bring things back from holidays I always like them. Although I collect ‘I love’ mugs so I ask people to bring them back from different places. I’ve got I love Guatemala, I ‘heart’ Kurdistan, all sorts.
GB So is the naïve beauty in your painting different from the kind of beauty you might find in something from, say, renaissance art?
DdeV I like folk art. I can appreciate a renaissance painting and I get it, but for me naïve artwork is more appealing so I look at a lot of outsider art. That’s what I’d collect.
GB Do you try to keep your own work quite naïve if you feel it’s becoming a bit too sophisticated?
DdeV My work has always been quite childlike and naïve. I’ve always drawn like that. From my first book in 2001 to my second book in 2003, I ended up using different felt tip pens because I found a better brand. But after two years you can see how the line is more graphic. You can see that in the first book it’s more scratchy and raw and the hands aren’t so good. You can see that now it looks crisper.
GB Are you conscious of beauty in your work? Is it something you strive to achieve?
DdeV Yes. I think about style and colour, about complementary colours. I don’t need the people to look individually beautiful as long as the end result is beautiful to me. It doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.
GB Do you think that there’s a lack of beauty in the contemporary art world? Can serious contemporary art be beautiful?
DdeV Everything I like art-wise appeals to me because I think it’s beautiful or pretty. It’s a really big thing for me. I’m very attracted to that.
GB Do you think that’s partly why you’re drawn to fashion too?
DdeV Well my parents were both in the fashion world and I studied fashion at Parson’s, so I have a fashion history and I work with a lot of fashion brands. I feel like I’m in the middle of fashion and art, or rather on the outskirts of both.
GB Do you think that universal beauty exists?
DdeV I would imagine so. Look at lightening or rain at nighttime. I love driving into Manhattan from the airport when you start to see the skyline. I love that feeling so much. I don’t have that feeling for any other city.
GB So do you find man-made things more beautiful than natural things?
DdeV Well, we used to live in West Sussex and the view from my bedroom window was the Downs – but the New York feeling is a rush. Maybe that dates back to watching Fame when I was little. I lived there and it has a buzz and an energy I don’t get from anywhere else. I find clothes beautiful. But I find people beautiful too.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
DdeV For me, beauty is very classic. The painting is stylised and colourful and naïve. And there’s an element of mystery because I don’t know what it’s all about and I’m not from Mexico. Like the mystery of the New York skyline.