Continent Project 2019 Vol. 2

by BJ Panda Bear

Continent Project is an exhibition in Paris celebrating mankind, past and present, as a unified community. Pulling inspiration from John Donne’s famous poem “No Man Is an Island”, the various artists and the diverse mediums with which they work emphasize how we are all interconnected, in our humanity, our shared histories, and our shared planet. Taking place December 13-16 on the 111 Rue St. Antione 4ème, this exhibit will feature the work of 23 artists. In the second of 3 segments, we present a series of Q&As with the artists featured in this incredible project.

KORNEL ZEZULA

Kornel Zezula

Kornel Zezula was born in 1991 in Wroclaw, Poland where he studied at the National School of Fine Arts. His paintings depict frozen stills of portraits blurred by the movement. The artist paints only the figure of his subjects, immortalizes only the being, or at least his face.

Do you listen to music when you work? If not, why? If so, what music.

Yes, I listen to a lot of music. For me, painting is a spiritual act. I love to lose myself in my practice. Music  helps me to access my emotions, which is the key to my creativity. Sometimes I feel that the lyrics of certain songs are like spells that I cast on my paintings, giving them meaning, but sometimes I listen to instrumental music, and sometimes I need to work in silence. In fact I listen to many different genres, from classical through jazz to experimental and electronic. But to be completely honest, often I pick what I listen to based on my physical needs. To give me energy when I’m tired, and to slow me down when I’m too excited.

How do you decide what “moment” to immortalize in your paintings? What expression or emotion are you hoping to capture?

I’d call it a flash or a glare, the moment when it strikes me that a painting is right. It’s so inexplicable; it either is or it is not. Of course, I am constantly working to sharpen my senses so that I can better translate this sense of rightness in my next painting. It’s the reason that I paint. I never intend to capture anything. All the “situations” that I paint appear during the process of painting. I shape them, sculpt them. I dig until I find them. Sometimes I discover something completely different from what I was expecting. That’s the fun of it: I love to be surprised.  I think I’m always looking for some kind of beauty and sensuality.

Why is a unified and open Europe so important for you, as a person and as an artist?

I’m from Poland, and I wouldn’t have been able to study and live in France in different circumstances. I feel cosmopolitan. I like to be able to choose where I live, choose my own scenography. After all, I only have one life. I fell in love with France and I moved here. Sadly there are a lot of barriers in this world, and not everybody is as lucky as me, to have a dream and make it happen. We need to fight to keep Europe unified but not homogenous. There is a lot of beauty in all of the differences. However, in my artistic practice I don’t confront political and social matters directly. I just want to create, no matter the context. 


LAURA GARCIA KARRAS 

Laura Garcia Karras

Laura Garcia-Karras lives and works in Paris. She graduated from La Cambre in Brussels and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Laura Garcia Karras won the Marin Prize in 2018 and the Agricultural Credit Foundation Award and exhibit in Dubail with Or Cadre in March 2019.

Your process is both mechanical and gestural. How do these different techniques manifest themselves in your work? How do you  characterize your work? 

"Born, raised, educated in a social background that privileged word... I paint as a reaction to this conditioning."  

—H. Michaux, Emergences-Resurgences, 

"If I want to go by traits rather than words, that's always to get in touch with what I have more precious, more true, more folded, more mine (...) it's at this research I left"

—H. Michaux, Emergences-Resurgences.

Here are Michaux's words in which I find myself, perhaps more in regard to the gestural aspect of my paintings. Mechanics exist for two major reasons, it seems to me. It is because of these long hours of listening to the repetitive pieces of minimalism, it allows to conceal voluntarily secrets of painting, of painters of Man. I would call my painting a hybrid like any other creations today.

What role can the solidarity of artists play in helping to unify an increasingly divided world? Is it a good time to be an artist? A difficult time?

The solidarity that exists within an artist group or a group of people can generate a form of resistance against individualism. Art offers visions that can lead to disagreements and debates supposed to enrich a reflection on ways of life and thoughts, and can be committed partnerships or new models of art of living together or at least side by side, or simply art = beauty and that is always good in the sense that it solicits.

I do not know if there is a good time to be an artist. Artistic practice involves going through more or less painful periods of work. The search brings together successes but also failures. The artistic work requires to circumscribe permanently, to leave things aside to valorize others. An artist's career is unpredictable and often dizzying. That's what gives him his taste I guess.

Do you listen to music when you work? If not, why? If so, what music?

From 2012 to 2014 I listened to the music of minimalist Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Brian Eno ... every time I started to paint,  After a figurative register I started to practice abstraction. In the act of listening in parallel to gestures of application of painting notes and forms were ordered together. The systematic listening of the same songs allowed me to generate a personal shelving that still serves me today in my productions although I work mostly in silence.


LOUIS LE KIM 

Louis Le Kim

While painting and drawing non existent spaces, Louis Le Kim illegally explores underground spaces, power plants, petrochemical sites, steel, mining. With his photos, videos and objects taken from the site, he works on the realization of his works in his studio.

What is the difference in your work between the imagined or painted space and the photographed space? What effect do you hope the contemplation of the spaces in your art will have on the viewer?

I’d say that the photographed spaces are a testimony about what is standing on this Earth today and to a certain extent they bring back pieces of it that you may not have thought  about, images of places where we may not or should not go.

These images could sometimes make you think about a peaceful place or a dangerous place, depending on what is in you’re mind. Nevertheless, they illustrate, in a way a timeless landscape that could give us warnings, like flashes of the future of our Motherearth, even if it takes place today.

The imagined spaces are a bit like dreams. I try to create an atmosphere — a sensation between anguish and serenity. These spaces are like assemblages of different experiences, between what lies in the depths of one's mind and a hard or soft reality. In a way they are not real. I hope they speak for themselves.

What role can the solidarity of artists play in helping to unify an increasingly divided world? Is it a good time to be an artist? A difficult time?

Is there any good time for being an artist and what is it to be an artist? The frontier between craftsmanship and a whole way of life is sometimes really thin. Today may be different, and also tomorrow, but even if our environment changes very fast, we are still as human beings as we were a million years ago.

Solidarity of artists of any kind could be a great thing, humanly and creatively. And synergy would make us able to pull apart from the huge masses and favorite quarrels between large groups of people, and then variety enables us to keep boredom at bay.

Do you listen to music when you work? If not, why? If so, what music?

When I paint, I often prefer listening to Podcasts, especially about geopolitics, or conferences by different academies in France, interviews etc. When I listen to music, I choose from a large range, these days from Nick Cave to Kurdish songs.


LOUIS MARIE  DE CASTELBAJAC

Louis Marie de Castelbajac

As an artist and entrepreneur Castelbajac has always used multiple mediums to convey his ideas.  His creative narrative began when he was very young in Paris, where he was exposed to a generation of contemporary artists during the 1980s.  He began to design at an early age and at 5 collaborated with Keith Harring,, (a family friend), on a series of drawings.

Your illustrations often use words—do you feel captions expand or direct the viewer’s interpretation of your work? 

I like to think of them more as a continuum of the piece, it's quite strange they come very naturally. Usually in abstract pieces, almost like a guidance to another world of explanation or non explantation. Like opposites but one at the same time.  Somewhat like a lizard to a sun...

What role can the solidarity of artists play in helping to unify an increasingly divided world?

This, for me, is one of the most important factors in partaking in art today. I think it has the vital role on incepting the subconscious with human universal truth, that we are now forgetting and being brainwashed to no longer believe. But I really think arts place today is not in the galleries or streets, its in everything. The ideal of not creating for consumptions needs but to create for truths, giving, societal and  poetic needs. 

Do you remember the first artwork that you encountered that made a strong impression on you? Describe the experience.

I think it must have been in the Louvre, the mystery of Caravaggio, the "claire/obscure" or later the works of Beuys, that challenge social truth in strong and beautiful metaphoric pieces. 



GOLIATH DYÉVRE

Goliath Dyèvre

Goliath Dyèvre is a designer. He graduated from the prestigious National School of Industrial Design (ENSCI- Les Ateliers) in Paris. The same year, he created his design studio. He has won several awards. His work has been exhibited in many museums in France and abroad. His regular clients are Hermès or EDF, R&D.

What are the benefits of putting such a variety of practices in conversation with one another?
There are multiple benefits from my point of view. The work (artists or designer) do not “compete” they “complete” each other. As a designer working on objects and space I would say that in a way it is more of an exhibition it is a “situation”.

What have you learned from a practice that is different then your own?

From artists I have learned that the world is not always about rational explanations, if you leave room for interpretation and appropriation then your work can have a second life on which you have no control and that's for me when things become interesting.

How does your work change in communication with the other pieces in the group show?

I’m not sure yet...but if we take “Les habitants de bois” (the inhabitants of the woods)  next to the sculpture of Damien Levy suddenly my question of functional object as a sculpture lives differently suddenly what is seen as a sculpture in a design exhibition is seen as an object next to this artwork. The context changes the perception of the object.


GUILHEM DE CASTELBAJAC

Guihem De Castelbajac

The 30-year-old son of Parisian designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Guilhem de Castelbajac is a  graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. His work focuses on contemporary portraits with a fashion perspective.

The photographs of classical sculptures invoke art history—how does this canonical element comment on contemporary art-making?

Art threw the ages has been a means of communicating important historical events; of depicting gods to worship, and of illustrating the power and importance of key historical figures. Contemporary art has become a comment on society, an depiction of concept and more so than ever a monetary investment.

Through this series I am in many ways attempting to lower this antique form into a contemporary version. By hyper sexualizing and vulgarizing these ancient depictions I am transforming the meaning and effect they may have to the viewer and there for punching them into contemporary art.The fact they are in a polaroid format scan and digitalized is a further illustration of going from a tangible authentic object into digitalized karaoke.

Why is a unified and open Europe so important to you, as a person and as an artist?

Europe is the birrhofmuch of civilizations we know it, this the second time in history this continent is united; the roman understood the strength diversity has under one law, and tho it came to an end it was whilst it lasted a great period in advancement in all ways. The EU does not try and homogenizes cultures as in America it only gives a frame work for all thrive. The three main ways of advancing society are threw war, religion and commerce; and only the last is truly desirable therefor making this easier is logical and vital for growth and competition with other super power. Unity is strength.

How do you feel education has informed your practice? Where has it created limitations?

Education in a greater sense is a framework, a delimited field on which to play. The greater the learning the bigger the field; this does not mean that individuals use the entire field of thought and expression but it is there. This framework is imposed and founded on half truths and unless one is brave enough to question facts the field set does not grow stagnating through life. As an artists there tends to be a drive to go outside: creativity is an ether that burns slow which is fed by dreams, emotion and knowledge. This is why they have such an important role in society, not just for presenting difference but for showing the way for others to allow them selves to journey further. It all comes down to choices and the greater one educates himself the more choices he allows himself to have.


JÉROME ROBBE

Jérome Robbe

Jérome Robbe’s work can be defined, in a large sense, by a research of possibilities of materials of painting. He considers the accident created by the material of painting and its various components, as an adventurous field of experimentation and a landscape in its own right.

Is it important to you that people understand the processes behind your art, rather than just appreciating the end result? Or can the final piece stand alone as well?

The use of the mirror in my work is directly related to the viewer. This one faces the painting is found in turn, actor, image and contemplator of the environment which is reflected there. For me, a work must be appreciated just for what it evokes for the person who recognizes himself through it. It is not always obvious or necessary to put in words about feelings. I am a painter, in this I propose an emotion served by the material on its support. In no case do I wish to impose my thought. Nevertheless, I play with ambiguous materials and I like to deceive the viewer. What we see is not necessarily what is. In this certain will only see a shiny object or an automobile body moreover. I like this idea that a simple thing in appearance should not be stigmatized at first glance and especially when it comes to art, the time for reflection deserves to be taken in order to go to beyond his own beliefs.

Do you listen to music when you work? If not, why? If so, what music?

I indeed listen to music while working. Sometimes live broadcast on the radio, history, literature, society… that allows me to escape or think of something else when I am in a phase of relatively laborious preparation on my projects. But during my painting phases, I almost always listen to the same music, the same records of Johnny Cash or Elvis, in a loop, for 14 years. Their music fascinates me and are completely part of me. It’s part of my practice. I know all the songs so much by heart that they allow me to concentrate and stay locked in my bubble, without really listening to them. It's an obsession.

When do you find it the hardest to focus on your work, and why?

The hardest moment for me is the morning, I'm not at all an early bird and I struggle to get out of my daydreams. The outside world attacks me and it takes me a long time to succeed in isolating myself in my bubble. People, cars, social life, the sounds of the city are anxieties. I like the nightfall, hearing the last cars passing by, knowing that most people are going home, and I'm outside, outside of this rhythm, outside of this world. I am alone.


JULIETTE DE FERLUC

Juliette De Ferluc

Ferluc is a French artist. She works on copper focusing on the observation of the living in mineral elements. An experimental study through chemical processes aims to catch the return of the metal in its primary composition. The oxidation of copper allows her to explore the expansion of the matter. Since her first encounter with the ore in Chile’s copper mines, abstract landscapes are created through this alchemical conversation.

What did you find so inspiring about your encounter with ore in Chile’s copper mines?

My work on copper was first translated into ‘design’ with the creation of a furniture installation, COMETE 0.1, that made me want to go further for the first time. This trip to Chile to discover the mines was a real surprise for me. I wasn't expecting the color at all. Since my childhood I have been fascinated by the pigment that I used to work in painting in my studio. I was very frustrated to have to mix it up to fit on a canvas. I felt like I was turning off the light and I never thought I could be a painter. The discovery of the natural pigmentation of copper ore was a chemical revelation for me. As if I had finally found the link between object, material and light. Since then, I never stop experimenting with the extraction, by oxidation, of this fascinating pigment on 99.9% pure copper plates.

What is your interpretation of the title of the show, “Continent Project”? What about the John Donne poem appearing in the program –“No man is an  island…”

"Continent project" is a title that speaks of the Earth and therefore of material. I like to imagine painting views from the sky. When I started working with large formats, I had to imagine a different way of painting because my artworks had to stay horizontal so that the oxidation of the metal could be created over time. I had trouble seeing what I was painting. Today, I paint these formats suspended by a harness from a pulley system and observe my continents like an astronaut. This new perspective gave me the impression of painting a new Earth with its seas and oceans.
What touches me in John Donne's poem is the human dimension of the material Earth and the telluric approach to human interactions. This is precisely what the exhibition is about: Mankind's tectonic.

What is your plan for 2019?

Explore the 6th Continent.