Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’m currently working in South of France. Cannes to be precise. I’m self-taught and started painting in 1998. It happened in a rather brutal and instinctive way. It’s as if the act of painting had always slumbered in me and suddenly I let it express itself.
Before I started painting I spent my early years on a skateboard and I think it is a logical continuation to have slowly left the skateboard to express myself in a different way.
I entered an art school, but I quickly realized that it didn’t suit me. I was in a hurry to paint and maybe a little arrogant.
Motivated by action, more than theory, I have experimented a lot by nourishing myself with the work of my elders. Like Jean-Michel Basquiat who had a powerful impact during my first years then Donald Baechler and later Christopher Wool who led me to abstraction. That’s funny because other artists help you reveal who you really are. What they show you first of all is that they have tried something new, free and unique and that they have succeeded.
I have therefore developed a unique practice that borrows so much from painting, collage and printing. a wobbly practice based on my lack of virtuosity and emphasizing error, failure and surprise. So I spend most of my day reorganizing chaos.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I don’t really remember a special moment because when I was young, there was art books at home and lithography on the walls. I was more interested in skateboard graphics and counter culture at that time.
The thing is that I consider many common and banal things to be art. It’s more about how we look at them and how we decide to use them to transform them. If you enter a supermarket, all these packagings, it’s art for me. When you walk in the city all these architectures, urban decay, unstable balances, these movements, the things that fade and the things that are revealed.
What do you like most about working where you do?
It is a combination of several factors. First the light of the South of France, then the fact that I live in the city, because architecture inspires me enormously.
My studio is at the corner of busy streets and at the same time it is an intimate place, so there is a strong contrast between inside and outside. I like the idea of using what is around me to translate what is inside me. To play with what is plural and what is individual.
And at the same time there’s no separation between my life and my studio life as I work in my flat. For me, the real luxury is to have space, time and light to create. That’s what I have.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
It is something of the order of ruin, abandonment, decrepitude and lack. All this sounds very sad but not at all.
In fact I find it very poetic when man’s ideals are confronted with the reality of nature and our environment. If my paintings looks unfinished it’s because it is necessary for me to leave spaces vacant, spaces of freedom where the imagination of the viewer can express itself. In short, there are finally only two fundamental principles to which I am committed, balance and harmony.
What is your process like?
As a human being you like to have control over as many things as possible, it’s reassuring. On the other hand, as a painter you soon realize that the first idea is only a motor to start a painting. What matters is the path and not the destination. I am still planning future paintings and every time I come back to my studio everything changes and nothing happens as planned. What interests me is not what I know or imagine, but what I discover, what I feel.
On a technical level, I do everything to minimize my control and often my intentions fade away and my intuition takes over.
I developed a technique of transfer on canvas, using matrices that act as buffers. The result is always imprecise, imperfect and surprising. In fact, I create problems to better solve them.
What is your studio like?
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
I recently discovered the work of Raoul De Keyser through the work of Richard Aldrich. There are similarities in their approaches to painting that the critic Raphael Rubinstein called Provisional painting. It referred to painting that looks “casual, dashed-off, tentative, unfinished or self-cancelling.”
This definition can be applied to my painting. That’s really what I’m looking for right now.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
Be organized. It’s really odd for me.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
No, I don’t have a day job. But occasionally I do short time missions (like working for Director’s fortnight during Film festival) and it feels good to break out of the routine and get out of the studio.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
In my early days, it was really Jean-Michel Basquiat who paved the way for me. When I first saw his painting, I was captivated by the freedom that comes with it. There is such a strength in his work that it is accentuated by the spontaneity of childish drawing.
For me it meant: “It’s fragile, it’s flawed, it’s unique. Freedom exists, at least in painting”.
You can’t really talk about mentoring, I was too young and too far away to meet him, but his work accompanied me.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
If you really have something to say, both unique and true. You feel that deep down, say it. It is in part the artists who help those who suffer to live, who propose something other than the norm. Books, paintings, music, films save people.
To be honest, younger, I had no idea of the commitment it took to be an artist and to continue my practice as long as possible. You have to constantly juggle money and it’s often survival. But it’s a bit like when you start renovating your home. You’re always very optimistic and then things get complicated. But things have to be done otherwise people are unhappy, and, anyway it’s the same with life, you always have to adapt.
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
unfortunately my region is not very rich in creative people. I spent all my teenage years with a bunch of friends and my friends are still there, around me. But to create I am rather lonely. However, I really like team spirit and committing myself to a project together. But not for the painting.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I spend as much time as possible in the studio, which is a little more difficult now that I am a 17-month-old father. I work during the day because I am sensitive to the quality of light and I really have no difficulty starting to work, from the moment I look, I start making connections, thinking about possibilities, trying, experimenting. It’s a little harder to get out.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
I really don’t have enough experience in art school to talk about it. As in any education, it seems to me that there is good to be taken. It also depends on the quality of the teachers, the relationships and how they encourage young artists without selling them dreams.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
So many things!!!!!!!!
Seriously, between the questions about my own work, the concerns of survival, the doubts, the organization to find the best ways to show my work, it’s complex. The most difficult thing for me is probably to get rid of preconceived ideas about the art world and how it works and to find my place while keeping my integrity.
How would you define “success” in art?
If, through art, you get to know yourself better.
If you can evolve and progress in your work.
If, from time to time, everything intertwines and works in harmony.
If, on a material level, you manage to live off your art, even modestly.
If, your work inspires those who see it.
If you can share it with as many people as possible.
And even if only one of these assumptions concerns you, I think we can talk about success.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
I had the chance to exhibit my work at the 107 Foundation in Turin, a beautiful and spacious place where natural light enters through the ceiling. I was able to show 25 paintings, including very large ones.
But in the end, many exciting things happen every day in the studio, they are more ephemeral and less quantifiable. These are key moments when everything balances out and we take a step forward.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
Not yet. When I was living in Paris, I used to organize workshops with young children and it was a great experience.
What are you working on right now?
I have worked a lot on large formats. At the moment I have reduced the sizes a little and this allows me to experiment a lot more.
I am working on this series of medium formats in pastel colours, a little faded. I work with fragments of canvases, studio residues, failures, sketches.
These are creative impulses, unfinished things that I will connect with each other. It is therefore mainly an assembly work.I’m looking for the link, the points of attachment in order to recreate a unity.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you very much for reading this whole text and thank you for the questionnaire. It’s always amazing to see how hard some things that seem clear in the head are to express when it comes to writing.