OPEN DOOR CONVERSATIONS WITH ZOÉ NUMAN
Interview by Naomi Ho
Photos by Audrey Wang
“I only consider all my paintings as ‘try-outs’. I’m like:“Oh, I’ll just try this and this.” I think, I’ll always be feeling like this, it’s a constant try-out. They are not all the same style or the same techniques. I like it.”
My name is Zoé. I’m half French, half Dutch but I’ve only lived in France. It’s been five years I’ve lived in the Netherlands. What can I say…? I came to Maastricht because I was studying. I studied at UCM in Philosophy and Arts. Yeah, anything cultural that I could find in my curriculum, I wanted to mix those two. And now I’m working for two years at the bar (Take Five). It’s been really nice and really interesting. And I really needed that after my studies, because I was like ‘I need to work’ or get more into the ‘real-world vibe’, to grow-up a bit also. That was needed, I think.”
I really like colors. I’m really obsessed with like, really bright colors. You see it, it’s not even like I think about it so much, but for me I really try to take the light. It’s…yeah, if it turns out bright, it’s because I try to make it really light. And I also, for some reason, also my father said, never paint with black. Only certain touches or ending touches, it’s a bit like white. I mean I use white to make it lighter and everything, but black, I also tried it. For example, if I use black to make something dark, it easily becomes a bit dirty and that’s against my idea of light, so I don’t really like it.
I have also quite a restrictive palette of paint, like colors of paint I use. I use two types of yellow, two types of green, two types of blue, one red, and a white and that’s it.
With painting, I started with University, actually. Because my mom bought me two tubes of super cheap acrylic paint, like one white and one blue and a square canvas like this, and she was like: ‘Yeah, I bought you this, you know, maybe you will like it.’ At some point, I was like I might as well try it. And I started and I really liked it, so maybe she had a good idea.
Both my parents draw and my father also paints. So I was always in a…surrounded by drawings or like always could draw…they had all different materials, like paints or crayons. There was always paper at easy reach and when I was small I used to draw a lot.
Sometimes I have really pure ideas and then I’m looking for images or I try to take images that go with this idea. And then, for example, I went to Spain with my uncle and my aunt and that’s where like all this summery things come from. But I was also, really into wanting to paint the sun and the sea and I had the occasion to go there and I just looked around a lot and I had situations I like and I try to take pictures thinking that I will paint. But, I mean, also I could not paint in that place, it’s mostly practically speaking, it’s easier. So, yeah, I came back with a lot of pictures.
I first wanted to be a hairdresser. I cut my sister’s hair and my hair…yeah, I really like cutting hair. Umm…and then I wanted to be a veterinarian because I really like animals. And then in high school I was like, “Fuck this, I want to be an artist.” But then, I know, because my parents were also independent, so I also know it’s not super easy. It’s not the easiest road, but I’m like, “I’m young, I don’t really like…it’s fine.” It’s the best idea, but I have to say I also really like that I have a bit of balance with having to work with people. I also really like it (working at the bar) so…I wouldn’t want to do that for the rest of my life, but for now, it’s a good balance. Maybe if I had a bit less…if it was a bit more balanced, like equal between the two. Because I’m working, yeah, more at the bar but it’s ok. I’m quite happy with how it’s going.
The light…even if I close the windows…it’s still a lot of light, because my place now is really, really dark. Also my kitchen is really dark, with a blue floor so it gets quite, heavy at some point. And here (the studio) I feel it’s really light and…it’s also lighter for my mind, I have more headspace. To also try, like, really, just do it without being annoyed or whatever. I like the space because it’s big and it’s just for me right now.
Music is really important. Because if I don’t have music, it’s too…it doesn’t help me in feeling chill. (laughter) I’m a bit anxious; I tend to be a bit thinking a lot but then if I have the music, also I get into it and also some music really influences the vibe. So, for example, for this, I also like to listen to warm music, or a bit surfer music, yeah it fits into, my whole…world. Cause it’s really like tropical, and having this kind of music is really putting me in that space.
And also sometimes when I need a bit of distance, I dance. Or I, yeah, I like to dance to relax a bit, thinking about something else, and then I go back.
Now that I have a summer studio, it’s a bit different. But when I was still doing it (painting) in my kitchen, I would paint a lot at night or in the evening, with my shitty lights. (laughter) But yeah, because then its really calm and its easy for me to concentrate. And that’s why I like here too (her studio) because I’m easily a bit bothered or distracted when there is a lot of noise or people walking and talking. So during the day at my place, it would also be…