Majestic and Iconic Paper Cut Silhouettes of Tribal Men and Women by Valentine Louafi


Valentine Louafi is a French graphic designer and paper cut artist based in Aix-en-Provence, Southern France. Her studies were based around 2D animated movies and furthermore her thesis encompassed the representation of silhouettes, especially transcribing expression and body movement and the use of positive and negative contrast between the two. Her work has always been drawn to this type of representation due to the delicate and powerful nature of the silhouette and also its simplicity, while evoking endless depth and meaning. Her most recent works, entitled the “Gold Serie”, focuses on the majestic and iconic portraits of men and women with body modifications from worldwide tribes, mostly from Africa, which hold a near and dear place in her heart.


My actual work is not strictly silhouette-like, but I like playing with light and shadows, the sharpened lines and outlines, struggling to find the perfect balance between positive space and negative space. It makes me realize how the positive space needs the negative space, how light needs shadow, to reveal and release what already exists but what is needed for the two to be born. – Valentine Louafi


Valentine’s technique mostly consists of paper cutting because it satisfies the existence of the perfect gesture, the required patience, precision and risks in only having “one shot”. If there is one wrong cut with the blade, you have to do it again. (Surma, Mursi, Dinka, Padaung pictured here.) The paper cut outs are framed in a shadow box, between two pieces of glass to make them float and allow the shadow to be projected onto the metallic gold paper background. Also the reflections and shadows fill the negative spaces and colored the skin constantly changes in an infinite amount of golden tones depending on the point of view.


Light and transparency give power and delicate uniqueness as well as deepness to the subject, magnified by the golden symbolic texture, which highlights the feeling of dignity, pride and beauty from these faces. I would like the viewers to feel the ancestral wiseness and sacred connections with these people, feel the cultures, to feel connected with them while just observing how quiet and respectful they are. Maybe believe the utopic idea that we are all one and able to reach the universality in the diversity that lives in every being. – Valentine Louafi


The “Gold Serie” will be exhibiting at the Brick Lane Gallery, London, from 7th to July 17th 2016, so be sure to check it out!

images courtesy of Valentine Louafi

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