Solenn Heussaff unveils new paintings, talks about her art and critics

Vernise Tantuco
Solenn's exhibit 'Our People' features 25 of her paintings, plus her cowhide carpet collection and furniture collection in collaboration with Our Tribe and Philux

SOLENN HEUSSAFF. The actress launches her first art exhibit featuring 25 paintings and furniture, rugs, clothes, and jewelry that she designed. Photo by Vernise Tantuco/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – After 3 years of painting and weeks of teasing bits and pieces of her work on social media, Solenn Heussaff unveiled 25 of her paintings to the public on Friday, April 8. (READ: Solenn Heussaff opens first art exhibit, ‘Our People’)

When the actress spoke to the members of the press during the private opening night on April 7, she explained that the long wait was because of her line of work and schedule.

“I can’t paint this for one hour, if I paint, it’s gonna be the whole day or like, a long stretch. So it’s hard to find time with my schedule. But finally, after 3 years, natupad and pangarap ko (my dream has come true),” she said.

'OUR PEOPLE.' The crowd at Solenn's Heussaff's art exhibit opening night. Photo by Vernise L. Tantuco/Rappler

Our People, which can be found at Pineapple Lab, Makati, features faces – some that Solenn or her parents have photographed during their travels, while others were made up by the actress, loosely based on her friends.

“I like people in general, I love going out on adventures, I love traveling, I love meeting and tasting different cultures as well. So you’re gonna see a lot from Africa, Myanmar, Chiang Mai, Somalia, a little bit from all around the world.

Vernise L. Tantuco/Rappler

“For me, I’m really drawn by how different people interact with each other and depending on their surroundings. But I love faces. As you can see, it’s all faces actually,” Solenn explained. “And because I hate doing hands and feet. That’s more why,” she added, joking.

Solenn’s paintings are on sale from P56,000 to P257,600.

Aside from her paintings, her exhibit also features her embroidered cowhide carpet collection, in collaboration with Our Tribe, and her furniture collection, in collaboration with Philux.

Vernise L. Tantuco/Rappler

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<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”6″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:31.3888888889% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BD6CRcJiM3F/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>Designed these chairs with Philux. The Cumbia chair inspired by my argentinian adventures and filipino lifestyle. Accacia wood with metal details, cow hide cushion hand embroidered by Our Tribe. #SolennxPhilux #SolennxOurTribe @_philux_ @ourtribe_ph #SolennArt</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A photo posted by @solennheussaff on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2016-04-07T17:06:14+00:00″>Apr 7, 2016 at 10:06am PDT</time></p></div></blockquote>
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During the opening night, Solenn and some of her guests were wearing clothes and jewelry designed by her and Mia Arcenas. Solenn’s pants had one of her paintings printed onto it, but she said she designed different fabrics for the collection as well.

SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS. Solenn with her friend, actress Lovi Poe, at the opening night of her exhibit. Solenn's pants and necklace are from a clothing and jewelry line she designed in collaboration with Mia Arcenas. Photo by Vernise L. Tantuco

“I just wanted this [exhibit] to be an art experience, nothing too strict, and square, and serious,” Solenn explained to Rappler in a separate interview.

The furniture and rugs are up for sale now too, while the clothes and jewelry will go on sale after their fashion show at the end of the year.

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<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-conversation=”none” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>.<a href=”https://twitter.com/solennheussaff”>@solennheussaff</a> &#39;s fiancé Nico Bolzico and brother <a href=”https://twitter.com/erwanheussaff”>@erwanheussaff</a> are here to support her too <a href=”https://twitter.com/rapplerdotcom”>@rapplerdotcom</a> <a href=”https://t.co/fplziSK4Ex”>pic.twitter.com/fplziSK4Ex</a></p>&mdash; vernise tantuco (@verntantuco) <a href=”https://twitter.com/verntantuco/status/718033743902978048″>April 7, 2016</a></blockquote>
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On being an artist

While Solenn, an actress and TV personality, isn’t as well known known as an artist, it doesn’t mean that side of her has been dormant. Solenn took up fashion design at Studio Berçot in Paris, and makeup in Ecole Fleurimon (also in Paris) and Make Up Forever Academy. (READ: Solenn Heussaff opens first art exhibit, ‘Our People’)

Her experience when it comes to painting, she said, comes from years of art classes she took as a kid. “Every Saturday with my friends, I did tapestry, I did pottery, I did different types of painting, with oil, acrylic, silk painting, there. And then I just continued til the age of 18,” said Solenn in an interview with the press.

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<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”6″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BCuVZdKCM5W/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>Solenn the Potter haha . So difficult pala but i want ro come back for classes!</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A photo posted by @solennheussaff on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2016-03-09T07:31:04+00:00″>Mar 8, 2016 at 11:31pm PST</time></p></div></blockquote>
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She added that she also took classes on topics like nude art and still art at the Ayala Museum.

“I love painting just for me, it’s the part of the day where it can just be myself in front of a blank canvas. No one’s gonna tell me if it’s nice or ugly, because art is subjective, so what is beautiful to me probably isn’t to someone else. And I also love the way that people interpret it different ways,” Solenn shared.

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<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”6″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:29.9537037037% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BBVFKGrCMwI/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>After almost 2 years in the making, my exhibit will dinally happen this year. I cant wait. #PeopleOfTheWorld #SolennArt</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A photo posted by @solennheussaff on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2016-02-03T15:36:46+00:00″>Feb 3, 2016 at 7:36am PST</time></p></div></blockquote>
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She has received criticism, though, particularly from her mother, who she says is her biggest critic. Others have commented that the lighting in her paintings isn’t even – “they’ll know that it doesn’t hit certain faces when it should be.”

“But I think if someone doesn’t like it he won’t come up to me and say, ‘I don’t like it,'” shared Solenn. “So most of the people that commented, they have positive things to say.”

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<blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned data-instgrm-version=”6″ style=” background:#FFF; border:0; border-radius:3px; box-shadow:0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width:658px; padding:0; width:99.375%; width:-webkit-calc(100% – 2px); width:calc(100% – 2px);”><div style=”padding:8px;”> <div style=” background:#F8F8F8; line-height:0; margin-top:40px; padding:50.0% 0; text-align:center; width:100%;”> <div style=” background:url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAACwAAAAsCAMAAAApWqozAAAAGFBMVEUiIiI9PT0eHh4gIB4hIBkcHBwcHBwcHBydr+JQAAAACHRSTlMABA4YHyQsM5jtaMwAAADfSURBVDjL7ZVBEgMhCAQBAf//42xcNbpAqakcM0ftUmFAAIBE81IqBJdS3lS6zs3bIpB9WED3YYXFPmHRfT8sgyrCP1x8uEUxLMzNWElFOYCV6mHWWwMzdPEKHlhLw7NWJqkHc4uIZphavDzA2JPzUDsBZziNae2S6owH8xPmX8G7zzgKEOPUoYHvGz1TBCxMkd3kwNVbU0gKHkx+iZILf77IofhrY1nYFnB/lQPb79drWOyJVa/DAvg9B/rLB4cC+Nqgdz/TvBbBnr6GBReqn/nRmDgaQEej7WhonozjF+Y2I/fZou/qAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); display:block; height:44px; margin:0 auto -44px; position:relative; top:-22px; width:44px;”></div></div> <p style=” margin:8px 0 0 0; padding:0 4px;”> <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BD55Y6aCMzB/” style=” color:#000; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; font-style:normal; font-weight:normal; line-height:17px; text-decoration:none; word-wrap:break-word;” target=”_blank”>Mi amore always there to support me 🙂 love you bebito!!</a></p> <p style=” color:#c9c8cd; font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px; margin-bottom:0; margin-top:8px; overflow:hidden; padding:8px 0 7px; text-align:center; text-overflow:ellipsis; white-space:nowrap;”>A photo posted by @solennheussaff on <time style=” font-family:Arial,sans-serif; font-size:14px; line-height:17px;” datetime=”2016-04-07T15:48:37+00:00″>Apr 7, 2016 at 8:48am PDT</time></p></div></blockquote>
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Even with her exhibit up and running, Solenn shies away from the title “artist.” “There’s so many talented people out there,” she explained. “I’ve seen… Art Fair [Philippines], super amazing, the people are so talented, and it’s not supposed to be a competition anyways, but I’m still – there’s just too many good people out there that I don’t want to be called an artist. For me, it’s a pastime. And if people like it and they wanna buy it, then why not?”

Solenn’s Our People exhibit is open to the public from April 8 to May 8 at Pineapple Lab, 6071 R Palma Street, Poblacion, Makati. – Rappler.com

Vernise Tantuco

Vernise Tantuco is on Rappler's Research Team, fact checking suspicious claims, wrangling data, and telling stories that need to be heard.