As personal it can be, can you tell us more about your background ?
My journey starts as a child. I discovered painting coming from different ways.. one of these is meaningful to me and inspires me to create, it’s graffiti.
I started to paint a lot, first with abstract shapes, lines, colors and effects.. in order to assert myself in the artistic environment by writing my name.
My first exhibitions go back to early 2000 with the enthusiasm emerging from street art. At this time, I just got a master degree in artistic direction and I had to chose in between the dream or the reason. I would chose the dream. After meeting with Jean Faucheur and our sticking posters with the group « Une Nuit », I surrounded myself with friends called VAO to take a studio in Belleville forge. Exhibitions followed a regular rythm, first trips, residencies… I didn’t earn much money but it seems quite easily earned compared to the life I had. I was painting and partying, everywhere, all the time. I wanted to live experiences. Seven years later, I ended up living with L’Atlas in a new workshop in Lias. A new era. I became more meticulous, more serious, more professional. The dream became reality, time to think about new goals. It was six years ago. Today, I keep doing my way in the art world, throughout exhibitions and meetings… It’s fun, the more I get closer to my aim the more I feel like the road is long.
Life is a performance !
We notice a special interest for the movement through your work, what are the influences behind the primacy of action?
As a lover of different kind of production through art, I feel myself related to « action painting » and abstraction lyrique (American équivalent would be abstract expressionism). The feeling following this artistic activity can’t find any equivalence. The movement is prevailing and unique. It is, even inside an establish way, the human touch, transmission from the painter to the viewer through out times. A forever frozen moment. It’s this intimacy that concerns me.
For you, most of the time, action wins over the result, at which moment of the creating process do you chose to give priority to one before the other ?
The prevailing action over the result became a life philosophy to me. It’s where my production started.. I think that too much art history knowledge also as too much reflection found themselves a new concept to be part of the corporate art in France (contemporary art), confined in a reflection which is hardly constructive. I’m a conceptual painter, but the connection to the material matter is essential to me. I don’t think the idea is enough to be an artist and that the achievement is only about crafts. The action is tangible. It doesn’t cheat, breaks dreams and strength gains. It’s the way, experience brings maturity.
The result is determined by the balance between the idea I can have from the rendering of the tool used and the final rendering. Again, it’s in the action that I get pleasure to find contingencies that will give prestige to the result. It will be more or less acclaimed or hate, sometimes from the same person throughout times. Beauty is over in contemporary art, tastes change throughout concepts and process. Mine is to favour the unconscious in my creation, I’d like to think about the result before than after the action.
First lettering then you went to more abstract shapes, was it a logical in your process ?
My researches, since I work in a studio, go towards abstraction, I found more feelings. In the street, it’s different. The letters effect is not the same. But borders stay blurred to me. When does a letter become an abstract shape ? It’s where I have fun, finding limits while including new ones inspired by my journeys, coming back to my lines few times, scratching the canvas, creating volume, depth and pictorial vibes.
Let’s not forget that my idea is to paint by process where I let my subconscious speaks. It’s a state of mind in between trance and meditation, a therapy. (A little bit like Sam Francis at the time). The more I let myself spontaneously the more I let go, the more the painting will be performed (beautiful). Confidence is essential to me. As the calligraphist, I repeat my movement, I have to be sure not to think. Just enjoying the hazard coming from shapes.
Does the experience have any influence over your work ? How does it helps creation and reflects in your work ?
Experience influences my work through my being. Intellectually today, physical tomorrow ? I’m thinking about Hans Hartung that I love. Confidence comes with the time. Feelings brought by life had an influence over my paintings. I think back to break-ups that have been very rewarding from a pictorial view. I like that my painting is the reflection of my life. My serie called « Variations » is one of the best exemple. A line made ouf of movement summarize my psychological state by filling in the canvas. A kind of electrocardiogram of the significant event in the action.
Who are artists that had a major significance in your artistic research or those who have drawn your attention lately ?
I started considering painting when I discovered graffiti and artists such as Dondi and Futura 2000. Then, I got interested in art history and I found abstract expressionism and the New York School. From action painting to Franz Kline and to Mark Rothko’s plenitude. It was done. My art would go with these two movements. Following this, artists such as Bernard Frise, Simon Hantaï, Henri Michaux or Christopher Wool inspired me. Since four years, I really enjoy Korean painting, « Dansaekhwa » with artists such as Park Seobo, Chung Chang Sup, Lee Seung Jio, Lee Bae..
I also have a look on the future and I follow a lot people from my generation. Artists like KR, Pablo, Tomec, Erosi, Revok, they are so many.
We often talk about your research concerning combination / synthesis, can you tell us more about it ?
I started working on the synthesis from tags or more regarding to their energy. I wanted to transpose without reproducing canvas already done in the eighties.
Through this way, I realized that I could combine lights, feelings, frequencies surrounding with lines and colors.
The synthesis pushed me towards minimalism and then to maximalism. (reproduction of the same pattern on the whole area).
Do you think that artists collaboration had played a significant part in your practice ? (You share a studio with L’Atlas but you also, in the street art world, crew, etc.)
Collaboration in between artists is very important if you think from a spiritual outlook. We often feel lonely, troubled about knowing if our art arouse and will arouse interest and enough enthusiasm to be preserve and restore. It’s in this way, that it’s required to exchange our thoughts and celebrate our success. To be recognized from the peers and its community is more important to me than few sold paintings.
About making art with others I’m more sceptical, apart from some projects with Steph Cop for Marrakech Biennale in 2016 or L’Atlas with whom we share our reviews to create four hands canvas. It’s mostly complicated to share than compete with others. Artists have strong egos, it’s not always easy to deal with.
You’re often related to the Graffuturism movement, do you accept belonging to a movement ?
I don’t consider myself in any movement, time will tell. I believed in the beginning of Graffuturism because I thought that Street Art (Which was at the beginning only twenty artists from all around the world) became a niche where everything and nothing comes. Unfortunately, it quickly became the same thing. These movements, starting with artists coming from graffiti and manage to have a reflection to appear on a new level, they always get tainted with arriviste artists who only do shapes, no background, no content.
Do you put yourself any limit with the use of medium ?
My only limit is their use. As a self-taught artist, I tried many things. Mostly succeeding but sometimes it doesn’t work out, mostly with time. It helps me for their use. Today, I keep searching but I don’t mind calling a specialist to learn how to. It’s important to know your ability. The sense of direction of a tool and the importance of being helped can be useful.
I started to paint with spray twenty years ago and it’s still my favourite one. An extension of my being. Painting without touching the medium is an unequalled feeling to me.
What’s your opinion about artistic practices being established in museums or big institutions ? (Moreover yours in urban landscape).
I’m for acknowledgement of artistic practices from institutions, in museums as long as in public spaces. But also, I’m a defendant for wild actions, illegal most of the time. Risks assumed and the speed accomplishment give some kind of romantic feeling. Don’t forget that action stands before the result for me. In cities, people needs to escape, art is a good attempt for this. I think about the happiness I feel when I walk by and see graffiti since I’m a child.. It changed my life.
Institutions follow the art market today. With the rise of speculation around street art, we can expect to see street art around us more and more. It has already been exhibited at Grand Palais, Palais de Tokyo and Centre Pompidou if we think about Paris.
It’s the way of all artistic practice and all artists. After it becomes cycles. There will always be young people who will break the established barrier so that art won’t only be institutional. Art is generational, everybody has its own.
The idea of a vandal doing a tag, is it still something or did it become a fantasy tied to the practice ?
We can’t cheat with painting and less with tag. It’s easy to know who does what, just need to go in the street. So I would say no ! It’s not a fantasy. Then, I’m further less addicted to it than others or even younger ones. Writing my name through an illegal way brought me where I am and I want to remain honest with it.(I don’t speak about the pleasure of doing it).
The reality is that it brings a strength to my workshop practice that I lose if I don’t come back to it.
Also, you’re a musician, does it find its own meaning in your work or can you tell us your view about this ?
I have always been fascinated by music ! It’s the easier art to enjoy, no need to make it intellectual. We feel it physically.
Everybody will tell you their opinion on a tune or a music style, it will be different for painting… Thus, to play it as an autodidact is pretty hard. I had to find the right instruments to manage how to play one. Back to early 2000, music was mostly produced from computer. Bored of working with this tool throughout my graphic design studies, I had a look at music shops in Pigalle and considered different options. I decided to buy myself a first machine (sequencer, rhythm box, synthesizer). I found it fascinating to work music directly. Feeling electricity becoming frequency, wave, note.. Without noticing it, these researches are influencing my painting in an abstract quest and come to fulfill my character. I will never stop working on these two. I often say that my arm works thanks to my heart as a metronome transcribing my feelings. I paint my inner music.
What are your projects or collaborations coming around, any news ?
I still work on few different series of paintings, some of them will be on display soon, some other will wait few years. Now on display, it’s at LOO&LOU galerie in Paris, then starting January 18th next to L’Atlas at COX galerie in Bordeaux. In February, at Brugier Rigail Gallery for a group show and then in spring in Germany for the Urban Art Biennale.
For collaborations, Olivade fabrics will produce three patterns from my creation and also I have editing projects with wooden floor and carpet.
Few books, lithography and serigraphy are also coming.
Do you have any dream place where you would like to exhibit or to work ?
I feel myself really close to Asia and even if I already shown my work there, I think that at the moment, my heart would guide me there. Otherwise, New York and Paris stay the best place to get the new trends and get inside the art world.
What is ART for you ?
Art is the ability to transform actions and matter into reflection. Questioning and uniting people about the world surrounding us. Art is one of today’s religion and the big exhibitions are the Mass where everybody gather looking for answers and mysticism.
But for me who is into action, it’s above all a balance and a therapy. My reason for being.
Interview by Fiona Vilmer, writer specialized in contemporary art.
Photographs and text courtesy of the artist.