Miss Van has become one of the most iconic artists of our generation. Beyond making a name for herself in the otherwise male-dominated culture of graffiti, her work has made a transcendental shift from gritty streets to pristine gallery walls. Bijou de Beau crosses the street to visit the gallery and find out more.

Beholders of Les Poupees – the thoroughly seductive characters created by Miss Van – can not help but be enthralled by these lascivious creatures, their overwhelming femininity and the pure eroticism emanating from their gorgeous frames. It’s been fourteen years since the original sultry-eyed Les Poupee de Miss Van first appeared.

Miss Van began painting in the streets at the tender age of 18, not with spray-can in hand, but rather latex paint and brush – as favoured by counterparts, Brazilian graff greats Os Gemeos. The year was 1991. The city, her hometown Toulouse, France. Toulouse is world-renowned for its graffiti scene, Miss Van and her accomplices back then (Mademoiselle Kat and Fafi), couldn’t have help starting a feminine graffiti movement in a more apt place. While the streets occupied her spare time, she was a full-time student completing a four-year degree in fine art.

Seven years on and with enough street-cred behind her, Miss Van held her first gallery exhibition at Galerie Diloy in Toulouse. By the time Parisian Galerie Magda Danysz had proposed to represent her, she had already exhibited in London and Rotterdam. She has since gone on to exhibit in Barcelona, L.A., New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Stockholm, Milan, Amsterdam and Anvers, as well as participating in prestigious group exhibitions alongside the likes of Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Swoon, Mike Giant and Takashi Murakami.

On querying the sensual overtures of her work, her response is simple – ‘I just enjoy painting my fantasies without censoring myself,’ she says.

Her buxom burlesque babes echo pure sexual frisson, though Miss Van is quick to point out that not all of them are vivacious pin-up girls – she ascribes them with varied emotions, ‘sometimes melancholic, sometimes arrogant, sometimes coy… much like us (girls).’ It is the sensitivity with which she conveys these feelings that is most laudable.

She has admitted to her beauties being semi-autobiographical, and although her work may have manifested in earlier years through her shocking pink hair and girly wardrobe, it has since steadily transformed to display her own emotional expansion, emerging from girlhood into womanhood and yet still oscillating between the two.Her newest body of work, which will be showing at Galerie Magda Danysz later this year,

explores a broader range of intensity and complexity of sentiment, from melancholic turbulence to the ambiguity and fragility that accompanies provocation.

The evolution is inspiring, beautiful and very real.

The now Barcelonan resident is venturing further afield, from curating big-name group shows and working on her first book, to exhibiting in Asia and South America. With the steady progression and unfaltering passion which encompasses this artist, one can only look forward to what her feminine evolution may unfurl. Though the gallery has taken precedence and the studio has offered a safer space to experiment, her provocative nature still revels in the thrill of the street.

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