From the moment I met Julie Mimran, I could tell she was a different kind of artist. She didn’t seem dark or gloomy and didn’t show any of the eccentric qualities expected of artists these days. In fact, she was the total opposite: bright, lively and totally down to earth. I had in front of me a painter who has made portraits especially commissioned for Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Bono and Tony Parker.
We arranged to meet at Lululaboratorium, a new gallery space in the Wynwood Art District, which is known for 3 things: hipsters, good food, and of course, great art. In fact, for the past 10 years Wynwood has been the epicenter of all that’s new in the art world and is slowly but steadily becoming as influential and prominent as its homologous Chelsea neighborhood in New York City.
A young graffiti artist was stenciling the exterior walls in a black and white abstract pattern. Inside, the space was almost completely stripped with the exception of some mannequins with microphones for heads, and on the back of the room there was an antique chesterfield sofa surrounded by very rare artifacts and vintage relics, a couple of minimalistic, monochromatic bikes were being displayed on the right wing of the huge gallery, where costumers can purchase a work of art or a stylish pair of jeans. This is a concept gallery, and it is just what Wynwood needed if I may say so myself. Julie and I wondered around for a bit while the owner, Elie Akiba, explained to us his plans for the upcoming opening.
We finally sat down, and I learned quickly that this young French-born painter has been fascinated by pop culture since she can remember. Like any other 7-year-old, she was very keen on buying celebrity paraphernalia to build shrines in her very own room. However, she was not the type of girl to buy a poster and hang it sloppily on her walls; she knew something was missing. The self-taught young talent started to intervene her own posters with paint and collage until they pleased her aesthetic standards.
“I’ve always loved celebrities, but I found it inconceivable to buy a poster and just stick on the wall, and since there weren’t any paintings of celebrities, it was obvious to me to tie the two together”, says Julie with a heavy French accent.
JULIE MIMRAN. (L) Andi, (R) Coco.
Her love of art endured, and Julie enrolled at l’École de Création et Management (Créapole) in Paris, but she soon dropped out because, in her words, “it was not for me, it was too conventional, and I am more artistic”. However, her stint in art school was totally worth it because there she learned the techniques that would eventually take her art to the next level.
Using mixed media, Julie starts her creative process with iconic photographs, which she then adheres to a canvas and starts layering paint, resin and other materials to create dramatic effects. “I never know how a painting is going to turn out, it just comes naturally with every piece”, says the artist about her inspiration and fascination for celebrities.
JULIE MIMRAN. (L) Naomi, (R) Kate LV.
Each character she depicts in her portraits has a particularly emblematic quality, which Julie cleverly highlights. In the case of Coco Chanel, for example, she embroidered the logo with pearls, and Karl Lagerfeld’s iconic white hair is represented with natural fibers. In essence, not one piece is alike. ■