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This Artist Invented a Millennial Answer to Old Master Works
A chat with Swiss Artist Romane De Watteville
Feature 31 Jan 2022
Image of Romane De Watteville credit Patrick Martin

Meet Romane De Watteville, an artist who lives and works in Lausanne, the picturesque city on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The millennial artist cites her smartphone as an important tool, painting contemporary figures of herself and friends, while looking back in art history for inspiration. Her paintings are if 17th century still life masters painted carefully curated film sets in the present day. Through her art she makes the viewer reflect on the role of the body in a society more and more marked by voyeurism. Hot on the heels of Romane’s successful show ‘Every Me’ at the Fabienne Levy gallery that will be on view until February 19 2022, we sat down with the Swiss artist to chat about her practice, inspiration, and dreams.  

When did you know that what you wanted to do is to become an artist ?

I don’t think there was a specific moment when I said to myself “I want to be an artist”. In the sense that I have always been interested in art and especially in painting. It’s more the result of a slow natural movement. As a child, my parents often took me to museums to see exhibitions and then I studied art history before entering art school. I gradually accumulated a whole bunch of personal iconographic resources and today all these accumulated references still feed my work.

Romane de Watteville, Fabienne Levy Gallery, 2021 Courtesy of the Artist and Fabienne Levy. © Neige Sanchez
… And Everything in Between, 2021

Do your family and friends support you on this journey?

Yes and they are important to me. The universe I depict starts from my intimacy, from my daily life, of which my close relations are part. The stories I tell in my paintings are nourished by these relationships.

Explain as a newbie the characteristics of your work in 3 sentences?

Prints, clothes, skins, images and reflections…These are recurring elements that I use as a playground to tell stories. They can be mine or someone else’s.

Romane de Watteville – Motel by the Shore, 2021

Are the models of your work friends of yours?

As I said, the stories in my paintings come from my intimate life, that’s why they often have the form of self-portraits. When I paint my loved ones, it is because I want to tell their stories, in a re-staging of our relationship. I also like that everyone can project themselves as models. It’s a game of looking and being looked at.

Can your works be regarded as millennial still lifes?

In a way, I can understand you saying that. I have the feeling that the body has perhaps replaced the object in the still life idea. The smartphone is not for me the subject, but a tool, from everyday life, which allows to refocus the games of glances. It is a gesture that is more related to questions of the history of painting, like a form of mannerism.

Image of artist Romane de Watteville alongside her work

What role does interior and furniture play for you?

I like to build compositions that enclose my characters in sensual and emotional spaces. The interiors and furniture play a role of iconographic elements, they allow to create fantasized places, often inspired by hotel rooms or movie sets.

Romane de Watteville – Just Can’t Get Enough, 2021

What 3 design/interior pieces would you love to own?

I don’t know, but I don’t need to own a piece to paint it. I just love to imagine an infinite number of decors.

A lot of your paintings show young adults in their homes. Do you enjoy spending time at home or after the pandemic are you keen to spend time outside of the house?

Yes, I love my home, but I’m a cancer. So, maybe it says it all.

Goals for 2022?

« Yes to all »

You can find out more about Romane De Watteville via her website: romanedewatteville.com/

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