Debo Mouloudji is a Franco-American figurative artist.
She has a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design, and has studied painting/drawing at l'Académie de la Grande Chaumière, l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris, and the Art Students League of New York.
My work is about people and their stories. I tell stories visually, untold stories, stories that aren’t stories, stories that are emotions, secrets, lies, truths. Every person is a story, every person is ephemera, every person is connected to every thing that ever lived and ever will live, and everything that is.
I paint from life exclusively. Painting from life is a practice in presence, for both artist and model. It forces the model to be within themselves in their truth, and for me to be present with them, opening myself in such a way that I become a channel. The energy of our interaction becomes a part of the painting; do they like being looked at, are they open or closed? In this state I am emotionally perceptive without having conscious understanding of what I am perceiving, but the paint picks up the emotion, the expression, the life within the span of time of the pose/painting.
My interest in comparative mythology, specifically primitive mythology, informs my work. My practice is grounded in “traditional” medium and subject, because figurative painting connects us to our earliest tool-making ancestors. From ceremonial hand-axes to Paleolithic cave paintings and all that lead from there, I see how art originated as a spiritual practice.
Painting a person is a spiritual experience just as the cave paintings were made for spiritual/ritual purpose. Having developed, and continuing to develop, the skills of painting and drawing has gifted me powers of transcendence, vision, mind reading, the magical experience of coming to know someone through painting and how their truth can appear on the canvas. It is as if the hand eye connection is a shamanic wand/tool/staff that allows me to see into a person even though my conscious mind sees only paint.
My work is meant to feel alive. The figures in my paintings are intended to be the most honest, most humanising, expression of the individual. I want the viewer to feel that person, to be in awe of them, in love with them, in fear of them, aroused by them, anxious because of them. Each painting is an anthropological study of the individual, a visionary intimacy in both the physical world and in the picture plane, where truths about the sitter shine gently through in the stillness of paint.