The Misshapes: Lola Dupré Makes Surreal Collages of Dogs, Cats and Cultural Icons
“I am very interested in the idea of turning a warped mirror on popular culture.”
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Beyond scotch and Ewan McGregor, you may not associate works of art with Scotland. So when Glasgow’s Lola Dupré began creating bizarre and beautifully grotesque portraits of historical and pop culture figures, many took notice. Her work has featured larger-than-life personalities from Prince to Aristotle to Jean Harlow — all exhibiting distorted proportions created with little more than paper and a pair of scissors. (Her collages, made from magazine clippings, require painstaking work in order to make art this intricate, precise, and inventive.) She has also collaborated with such global brands as Nike and Burton, and been commissioned by publications including Vogue, Flaunt, New York Magazine, and the New York Times.
No matter if the subject is shown with multiple eyes, a spiky tongue, or 12 legs, Dupré brings a sense of flair and intense detail to each piece she creates. Using movements in art history to reconfigure the faces of politicians, celebrities, and other renowned members of our society — past and present — Dupré wants the viewer to confront what, and more importantly who, they view as successful and worthy of attention. “I am very interested in the idea of turning a warped mirror on popular culture,” she tells me. Of course, sometimes that mirror is pointed towards those most deserving of our affection — as is the case with her muse and cat, Charlie.
How did collage become your medium of choice? Were you inspired by other collage artists?
I always messed around with collaging when I was a child, but I suppose I have been making collages full time since about 2009. I was very inspired by Jean-Paul Goude, David Hockney, and Hannah Hoch, among others. I also found visual artists including Hieronymus Bosch, Leigh Bowery, Moebius, Bridget Riley, Otto Dix, and Lousie Dahl-Wolfe very inspirational when I was a child.
Much of your art uses portraits of famous people. What draws you to a particular subject — is it purely aesthetic or is there something deeper that you want to capture and express through your art?
I am very interested in the idea of turning a warped mirror on popular culture. I think working with images that are very recognizable is really interesting because it gives the viewer this strange, almost atavistic perspective immediately.
Animals, of course, feature prominently in your work. Have you always loved animals and found them inspirational or was Charlie the impetus for that?
I have always loved animals; I lived in the countryside with lots of sheep, donkeys, cats, and dogs around. They have always been very inspirational. Charlie is just the animal I have worked with the most — 37 portraits and counting.
Did you plan on doing a portrait series of Charlie, or does he just never cease to inspire you?
I never intended to make so many portraits with Charlie! I made one and the process was so interesting and pleasing that I could not help making more. He is very inspiring; he has a lot of attitude and very expressive features.
Does Charlie sit well for a portrait?
Sometimes! Recently it has been getting harder, perhaps because it’s winter and there’s less opportunity for photos in good light. He spends more time curled up, asleep.
Please walk us through your process, from idea to execution. Where do you source your collage materials?
It changes a lot from piece to piece. Sometimes I take the photo myself or I source a photograph online. I used to use magazine clippings, but I prefer to print my own material these days. I work on wood panels — a good solid surface to work on, which never curls and buckles. I print and cut up some pieces and move things around until I’m happy. Sometimes I am following a plan in my head and sometimes I let the collage take a new direction if something feels right.
I love how Charlie appears to take a good look at all your work. Has he ever had an interesting reaction, like been scared of a collage of an animal with a dozen eyes?!
Not really, to be honest; I think he is too cool to notice. Really, it’s like he looks right through them. He does look at them sometimes, calmly and solemnly, but he never seems impressed. I think he has bigger things to ponder.
I’m seeing elements of Surrealism, Cubism, and Dadaism. What is it about these styles/movements that you are so inspired by?
I am always just aiming to recreate some of the images in my imagination. These movements and others are inspiring because they were part of my education and life experiences. They’re useful tools.
Tell me more about Charlie — What’s his story (How did he come into your life)? What is he like?
We adopted him when he was eight and he is 12 now. We could not find out anything about his life before us, but I think it might have been a bit difficult. He was rather antisocial and grumpy when we first got him but he is much more relaxed now. For the first year, you could only really touch him gently on the forehead or he would swipe you with his claws. Now you can touch him on the belly while he waits for his food. He relaxes in a sunny window and likes to go outside and prowl around the local area. He has no other cat friends; they are all enemies.
What is your life like outside of your work?
We used to travel a lot in Europe but have been stationary in Scotland for a few years now. Currently, we live in the countryside, so we do a lot of walking and exploring the mountains, forests, and coastlines. I love spending time in nature and it is certainly very inspiring for my work. I love looking at mosses and slime molds in the forest, contemplating the tiny and the massive, their similarities and differences. We are hoping to move soon though, looking forward to a change in scenery.
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Avery is a writer and producer. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. When she’s not at her computer, you can find her reading, practicing her Greek on Duolingo, and delving into the Sex and the City discourse. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their cat, Chicken, who rules with an iron fist.