One of the most meaningful lessons I ever learned in college was to study traditions and rules first, in order to question — and possibly break — them later. My fine art teachers were always steadfast in teaching us the ins and outs of classic techniques and the canonical artists we would be expected to know. But they were also great at showing us ways to subvert those traditions, question the reasons behind certain rules, and explore the ways we could insert ourselves into the age-old discussion of what art is. Ever since those days, I’ve had a great love for artists who question and examine the “establishment” of fine art, like Malu Stewart.
Image above: Pipe cleaner detail
Malu is a Chilean artist who studied at home and in London and found herself drawn toward Impressionist artists like Claude Monet. But rather than merely admiring those artists’ work, she set out to reinterpret it using everyday materials like paste and pipe cleaners. Her equally stunning pieces highlight the connection between craft and fine art, and make us look a little more deeply at the way we choose to elevate some types of art and relegate others to a different realm. I was so taken with her pieces before knowing what humble materials they were comprised of — and now that I understand how much work went into recreating them, I’m even more impressed. Read on below to learn more about Malu’s work. xo, grace
Artist: Malu Stewart
About: Malu was born in Santiago, Chile in 1962. She received her BA from the Universidad Católica de Chile and her MFA from the The Slade School of Fine Art in London. Her work has been shown across the world in galleries and museums.
Work: Malu’s most recent work focuses on the connection between everyday materials and formal/classic European artwork. By interpreting classic works of art from artists like Monet in pipe cleaners and paste, she asks the viewer to consider the traditional canon of “great artists” and the relationship between craft and fine art.
More: You can read more about Malu here, here, here and here.