Valérie Sonnier draws in old account books, giving herself clear and limited borders; her drawing is precise and meticulous – the slightest movement amongst the leaves of the hedges must be captured – and always confined within the surrounding geometric lines. The spectator is instantaneously plunged into her world, and yet her work remains timeless and foreign.
In this same garden, with just as much care and precision, Valérie Sonnier paints the roses. The series of large and imposing paintings is just as meticulous as her drawings; the leaves are almost pointillist in their precision, the roses bright red. In a quasi-obsessional way, over three years, she endeavours to capture the ephemeral nature of the changing seasons. The canvases, numbered and dated, all share the same title: You can take anything from me, except my roses. To lose, to remember past lamentation, abandon and defeat, to retain, or rather maintain, to protect, to stop, to keep, to contain; all themes that are in inherent in her work, themes that can of course be linked to family and that one might think worthy of a film, and that evoke, in one way or another, both intimate and collective emotions. Yes, if one refers back to the roses in the garden, their disappearance was lamented every year even before the house was abandoned and this apparent defeat, if one can liken their disappearance to a defeat, could indeed cause a sense of grief and loss; roses that could've been maintained, could've been contained and which, in turn, would've been retained and thrived on previous life. The roses are both vestiges of the past and present. Somehow these roses must be captured and contained within the canvas. They fill it entirely like an impassable barrier and yet, in spite of their imposing presence, they sometimes appear to vanish, just like the lines of the house. Memories become distant memories and, just as quickly as they appeared, disappear like footsteps in the snow.
Yet again film provides the reference that can be found in Valérie Sonnier's paintings, the title of this particular series alluding to dialogue in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast: "You've stolen my roses which I hold most dear to me. You're unlucky for you could've taken anything from me except my roses and the punishment for such a theft is death." One can't help but think of the enigma of Citizen Kane – more specifically of Charles Foster Kane who, upon dropping a snow globe containing a snow covered house as he falls to his death, utters the word rosebud. Yes, so often reminiscence is born through the memory of childhood, whether it be playing a game, the moment when one must turn ones back on the past or perhaps even that simple act of picking a rose and wondering what dramatic consequences it'll have.