How did it start? What made you choose walls as a place of expression?
I am not sure as to when a start occurred because that implies me having to think of an end. My compulsion is never ending. Let’s say I woke up in the middle of it all, hearing testimonies from my family, teachers and anyone that had known me personally, about my always obsessively drawing and being reclusive for long periods of time. Somehow these observations have shaped my critical questioning of the inward world that I have grown to investigate and is one of the key premise of my art making.
To stay within the parameters of the question my start began from ever since I have consciously known myself and every day I seek to arrive at new levels of conciseness. In a sense, I start every day.
Walls are what we build as society. There is the race wall, the immigration wall, the economic wall and my favorite one: the home wall. The home wall in which we ironically feel so comfortable and attached to – willingly hiding or convincing ourselves that the notion of the home wall may be in actuality an illusion, a state of mental imprisonment set to trick our awareness of the free self. Why not a wall to express oneself? It is there; our imagination brought it into existence, it can be seen by the masses and interacts with them. It is not rambling with academic self-importance, it is just a space that can be transformed into an out of space dialogue, and with some luck inspire others to think about their inner space.
Your murals are multidimensional works, involving painting, on-site sculptures, and animations. They have relief and seem to have a life of their own. How do you constitute a piece? What kind of experiments do you like to conduct? Are you foreseeing new things you would like to try in your creation process?
Yes, my works take on multidimensionality. Quite frankly, I am restless and a bit impatient: there is an uncertainty that I feel when I set out to create a piece. It is a feeling that sometimes I pay a lot of attention to and that is almost always why I in-cooperate animations into my work. I can take these uncertain moments and transmute them into a form of critical departure within the structures of my artwork. My work has that appearance of life beyond its self, because I try to leave myself out of the process as much as I can and allow things to come and go. Maybe that is why, in my animations, there always seems to be characters walking inside of houses, leaving doorways and a restless pacing back and forth on the landscapes. I develop work mainly from dreams, books that I have read or random contemplations. But mostly the development process starts within the very actions of making a piece.
I experiment a lot on materials and their combinations. At the moment I am fascinated by charcoal and reprocessing canvases that I have painted into 3 dimensional characters, using flat screens within the body cavity to place the animated sub-world response to the made object. I am always longing to try new things – that is how I stay grounded. For instance, I would love to transform a very gigantic space and create a massive project room installation of works where things seems to come to life, something that will leave indelible marks onto the viewers mind and soul, something to satisfy a piece of what I truly feel my art can manifest .
Your creations are a dream-like world, with unreal and magical characters, somewhat dark and mystified, that seem to be part of an underground imaginary. What are you exploring? Is fantasy the main driver of your inspiration?
Unreal, dream-like and magical all speaks to me in an interpretive manner. I grew up reading about the Egyptian Mythologies, the Mayan Mythologies, to name a few, but what has always puzzled me was the fact that evidence of these cultures has – and to date – a physical visual “fact-to logy” which renders them in a location, place, time and form. I am confused as to the meaning of the word “mythology”. To me it can be perceived as myth (meaning: involving supernatural begins) or logo (meaning: a subject of study). One can take that in whatever way one chooses.
I make visual art and what interest me the most is how myth and facts plays a very pivotal role in the constitution of self-discovery and future aspirations of expression. My work explores these ideologies and masks their meanings within the figurative patina of the work birthing new questions.
Maybe, yes, fantasy is the main driver of my inspiration, but I refuse to acknowledge that fantasy is something made up because one has never seen it. To do this would discredit the essence of my imagination and I love to stay in the respect of this self-indulgent belief and the “fact-to logy” that continuously constructing upon its self holds a secret to my work, which is rooted in the human and animal condition.
Are those characters part of a story or are they delivering a special message to the viewer, whoever it might be?
My ideas are composed to function within a continuous introspective cycle of fragmented stories and notions which motivates their own response and actions. It must be this way and I am still discovering things about its form, its function, its non-function and so on. I see myself as a storyteller playing with symbols and figurative elements in order to foster a unique lexicon of ideas that somehow seeks to educate me about things of the supernatural realms. This is the only place that I can make art from. The viewer I cannot speak for, but it is my hope that something is left behind to be decoded and enjoyed by the viewers.
Tell us about your creation for the KAdE and the way in which you worked to achieve that result.
The mural installation at the Kunsthal KAdE was a very special commission. Sometimes things just come together to create the perfect atmosphere in order to evolve. On this project for the very first time, I discipline myself to keep a sketchbook throughout the entire process of its creation. It has been challenging for me because my style is just to go in and attack, that is the way I approach work on the streets. Been that the show was inside the museum space it allowed me to slowdown my thinking patterns and see the development from multiple points of reasoning. I must admit it was a very seductive feeling to work with. The installation took shape with a concept that I have being playing with – titled “Batmen and Bow Ties”. Here is a link to the studio visit (https://vimeo.com/40960100). This concept would take care of the piece rational. It is always a nervous feeling producing a piece that is almost a hundred feet in length and two stories high, but as I mention I feel comfortable in the realm of uncertainty.
It took me four days to complete the installation with its 3 dimensional charters and animations mounted into the solar plexus of the giant figure. Although it seems that it happened very quick, time went by really slow for me… Even though I had a sketchbook for this project on which I had worked almost a month on predevelopment, I never finalized what I was going to put on the wall, so I am just as surprised as everyone with this piece.
You have been working in several cities around the world, lately you have been living in Mexico, went to Liverpool and the Netherlands for a residence. Is the urban environment and rhythm a crucial influence for your work?
What are your plans and projects next?
I am not too aware of my environments as a main source of influence; I think that locations and places will naturally find their way into any artist work. What I do pay attention to is the connection to people in places I have traveled – myself being a bit of a reclusive; I always enjoy people in concentrated amounts. I believe it is healthy or so I was told. Rhythm plays a part yes. I like discovering new things simply because I hate routines and big cities really bring out a side of me that I like to observe, I see myself in layers and it can be fun to play with it. Liverpool has been an emotional ride for me because of the nature of the project that I did there (Art Connect) – a community based art project, and also because of its location and history of being an old slave port. So, every turn, every view, stirred up something inside me and at the same time brought me great understanding and resolve. I will never forget Liverpool: that´s for sure, the coolest place on the planet for me.
My Mexico chapter has come to an end. I am off to a new city and the world of potential is great. I do not know what to expect but I will always hold the sweet memories of Mexico with me. It is truly the land of the Mayan and I have learned so much there. The city has taken me in as its son in more ways than one.
My next project is to create my dream world project room on a superhuman scale on all levels.
By Clelia Coussonnet
Headline picture’s credits : Wendell McShine © Wendell McShine