Oakland has this young and dynamic energy that makes art projects possible.
Was there a deciding factor related to art in your choosing to live in Oakland when you came here for an extended stay from France?
I moved to Oakland for personal reasons, but I was really glad to end up in this city and be part of its art scene. When I arrived, I was immediately impressed to see how artists and galleries where organized. There was something really organic and vibrant about it. The people seemed very supportive of their local artists. To me, Art Murmur’s success and expansion is a good illustration of that. Many times, in less than a year, I would notice some new artwork in the street, randomly meet the artist, see his artwork in a collective show and finally go to his solo show. That’s magical! Oakland has this young and dynamic energy that makes art projects possible. If I had to compare it to France, I would say that in Paris things go much slower. I know many very talented artists that do not have real opportunities to show their art. It’s too bad.
You were in the US for a few years and recently returned to France. Can you tell us what/who were the greatest influences on your art while you were in the US.
It is difficult to precisely identify who influenced my art in the past years. Whether I’m living in France or in the US, I see a lot of paintings or installations that I like on a weekly basis now that a lot of artists show their artwork on the Internet via various platforms. I discover talented artists regularly, from all over the world. It certainly influences my work, but more as a whole through recurrent patterns, than individually.
What methods and mediums do you use to product your art? (stencil, stamps, spray)?
I got into art by making stickers. The idea has always been to draw images and stick them up everywhere to share them with a maximum number of people. Therefore, from the very beginning my art is tied with the idea of repetition. Every time I draw an image I think about how I can reproduce it, and because I like to have fun I tend to explore new techniques to do it.
In Paris I used stickers to represent insects. I was just using stencils and spray paint. While I was in California, I developed these colorful little bodies. I used a stencil for the silhouette, and usually painted it with acrylic. Then I drew the inside parts with a small black marker. Making sticker that way is my very favorite thing. I also have a Gocco. It is a very small silkscreen machine that I use to make stickers sometimes.
People often ask me if my hand made stickers are printed, or stamped. After a while I figured it was not a bad idea. Last winter I cut out different body parts in linoleum, and I created a stamp set: a few bones, some hands, some organs, a heart… I ended up with about eighty pieces that I used them to make figures on paper for a collective art show.
You have titled some of your work Teratology. Can you define that term for us and explain how it relates to your figures and robots?
When I started to make my small guys on stickers, the whole point was to find again this feeling I had as a child, opening a book without understanding any of the signs inside. Now that I can draw people and read, one of the mysteries still remaining to me is how we are made inside. I wanted to do the internal parts using this feeling of ignorance. I know where the heart and the brain are, but I still picture the rest as a bloody mess of meat and bones. That became an excuse to place some abstractions inside a figurative shape.
Teratology is old name given to the study of abnormal formations on the body (Elephant man would be a good illustration of that). Sometimes it is called the science of monsters. When I first heard that word I liked the contrast between its serious scientific status and its freak-show illustrations. To me, there was an odd tension there, something wrong. All of a sudden a woman with a beard would be called a monster. I thought that matched perfectly with the ignorance I wanted to use, so I started using this word. Later on I made a zine and called it Teratology.
I am very curious about the representation of human bodies in the media. Nowadays people transform humans and create a new kind of monsters, trying to follow an aesthetical ideal. This creates abnormalities and nonsense bodies that exist only in pixels but not in reality. These pixel-people do not have fat anymore, their proportions are off, they do not age, sweat or get tired. One day I will update the Teratology concept and make really thin bodies out of plastic. I will call that Photoshopology.
The advantage of representing human looking figures is that I have the freedom to make them do whatever I want.
You art centers around singular figures with their internal organs and bones exposed as though we are seeing through an x-ray. Sometimes the stickers have a message. But mainly we are seeing lanky figures leaping, jumping, walking… Can you tell us about them? What you are trying to convey? We are wondering if you were influenced by the figures in the 1973 French film the “Fantastic Planet”?
One of my challenge was to play with images that are both repetitive and unique. These figures are made following the same process, so I do not have to sign them but you can recognize their similarities. Because the black parts are hand-made, every sticker is unique. The advantage of representing human looking figures is that I have the freedom to make them do whatever I want. Therefore, I made more and more stencils to have a variety of body positions.
Some friends talked to me about the Fantastic Planet. They also told me that my work reminded them of the game Operation or the show Slim Goodbody. I did not know the movie or the TV show but it was fun to discover them.
You did a piece at The Special Delivery Show last Fall in Berkeley depicting a science lab setting with figures popping out of test tubes and being analyzed. Can you give us some insight into that piece?
Special Delivery was a really well organized art show. People at Endless Canvas did such a great job putting together all these artists in this amazing space. I am really glad I got a chance to participate to it.
When I paint, the process can be as important as the result. So I decided to represent this idea on the wall, for Special Delivery. The two green figures were the Teratologists / the fake scientists. They were trying really hard to create some kind of magic potion. After playing with their tools and formulas, they ended up with a color-changing-liquid. A liquid of life that got out of control. All of a sudden small creatures started to pop out of the bottles and jump all around the lab. Perhaps I secretly wish I could open a tube of paint and have one of these figures already made jumping out of it and laying on the paper!
Are there any upcoming events or developments you want people to know about?
I am working on a series of life size figures on posters. They were fun to make and I hope I will be able to find nice walls for them.
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