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Zoe Viles

Whether Zoe Viles creates images of butterflies in oil on a background of gold leaf, light streams pouring through tree branches in charcoal, or dream-like beings crowned in flowers, all of her work reflects 3 characteristics.

The first is a very subtle symbolism which permits each viewer to experience, according to individual interpretation and mood, an encounter with these creatures, a moment of joy, a vague uneasiness, in these holes of light the passage of the spirit into another dimension, a simple afternoon walk in this typical Normandy landscape, or a journey of the soul.


The second characteristic of Zoe’s work is an extremely refined aesthetic which, even if one is unaware of the hidden symbolism, enchants the eye, like the work of Chinese and Japanese painters of the past who were never ashamed to find harmony in shapes and colors , because for them the word ‘decorative’ was not an insult, but a compliment, the entire universe being an immense field of beauty depicting cosmic balance.

The third is spiritual: although the word ‘mood’ has been mentioned, Zoe doesn’t aim to express personal moods through her depictions of creatures or landscapes: she looks to translate the link, which, when the individual ego is bypassed, unites the viewer with the moth or the flower, this union revealing what is hidden deeply beneath the visible. That which is seen leads to the unseen, and with a perspective tempered with love and wisdom on the part of
the painter and the observer, big secrets are unveiled.

Ariane Buisset, author

Montgaudry, le Perche

Basse Normandy, France

ZV image
White Winged Phantom Oil on Linen 39x 39 Framed
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ZV Bosque Dawn
Bosque del Apache Dawn Pastel on Arches Paper 28x 36 Framed

ZV Autumn Joy
Autumn Joy Oil on Linen 48x 48 Framed

ZV Midwinters Daydream
Midwinters Daydream Oil on Linen 48x 48 Framed

SV Fragile Strength
Fragile Strength Oil on Linen 39x 39 Framed
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web ZV Hothead
Hothead at the Circusillyus Gouche on Arches Paper 13.75 x 6.75 Framed
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For years Zoe Viles has worked thanks to numerous grants for teaching and developing art and theater projects for the most part in New Mexico where she has lived intermittently since 1977 and during her years in France from 2003-2013 where she was inspired by the abundant nature, mists, and clouds.

She has worked with such diverse organizations as le Cirque de Soleil, Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute, and Theater in the Red and other Santa Fe theaters where she was engaged in many aspects of theater production .

Her artwork has been exhibited in venues including the Armory for the Arts, the New Mexico Museum of Art, Return
Gallery in Taos, and the Artists’ Gallery.
From 1995-2000 she lived in Rockport, Massachusetts where she had a gallery of her paintings and photographs and in
New York where she worked on fine art illustration and painting.

She returned to New Mexico in 2013 to, once again, immerse herself in and be inspired by this amazingly strange and
wonderful landscape and intense light.

Her inspiration for "White Winged Phantom" and "Fragile Strength":

“One afternoon while sitting in the white-washed stone, restored barn gallery where I had a show a few years ago, I became mesmerized by the efforts of a moth fluttering persistently against a window in its attempt to follow the light. The poignancy of that struggle touched me deeply, as it has so many times before, and I knew that I was going to have to pay painterly tribute to these amazingly beautiful creatures.For the next year my search for moths and butterflies was a sad one as they are so rare. I live in the countryside in Basse Normandie, France. So do many farmers, some of whom use tried and true organic farming methods, but many of whom rely on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and plant genetically modified crops which have all but wiped out the moths and butterflies. I’ve talked to a lot of the old people in the area who mourn the loss of this population which, due to the incredible natural fertility and the relatively mild climate of this region resulting in abundant plant life, used to be strong.

As I worked on this series in honor of moths and butterflies, all that they symbolize expanded and became more and more appropriate for our time which has presented so much that is so threatening on every level. In the paintings they often fly over the flat, mono-culture fields which, although quite beautiful, are the bane of their existence.
On another level, there are the myths and tribal beliefs, such as the soul taking on the form of a butterfly as it leaves the body, and what they represent psychologically: balance, transformation, the psyche itself. The exploration of how to represent these fascinating insects has only begun, for me. Their elusive, quick-silver ways are almost impossible to do justice to.”

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