Continent Project 2019 Vol. 1

by Flaunt Magazine

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 first of 3 segments, we present a series of Q&As with the artists featured in this incredible project.


COSTANZA CANALI

Costanza Canali

Costanza’s photography is an oneiric observatory. In her pictures we meet beings flying over a world of reverie and in a silent and timeless atmosphere. The will of Costanza’s work lies in the impalpability of emotions and into a penetrating confidence and faith.

How do you find a psychological connection with your subjects? Is this an intimate process?

Costanza Canali: I used to take pictures of people with whom I already have a sort of connection. I’m particularly interested in those who are less aware of themselves, or less aware of “that detail” that springs my attention and curiosity. Whenever there’s not already a spontaneous connection with the subject, I found myself imposing my honesty. This is the best way I’ve found to establish a bond with the subject. Being the most true to yourself is the key to arise out a genuine portrait, or a meaningful story. If I do, the subject will follow. You can’t wear a mask for too long if you have someone who is perfectly incorruptible in front of you. Trying to please is the worst  thing you can do. If the gaze is focused and personal, the picture will be layered and interesting. But I also think there’s not a single standard recipe for interaction. There are too many variables into the process of the portraiture to perfectly define it: time, history, personality, my mood of the day, the place I am.

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…”?

CC: CONTINENT (n.) 1550s, “continuous tract of land,” translating Medieval Latin “terra continens = continuous land” from Latin “continuous” present participle of continere “to hold together, enclose.”

Continent is a metaphorical human circle. Human and artistic circle. It is not only a group of talented people. Every person that participated in this show is linked to at least one of the other participants. We are connected by a vision, an experience, a passion...passion for humans, passion for rigor, passion for materials, passion for a method, passion for a specific vision. It is always a different purpose that moves us, but each one of us is seeking something with a great intensity and every artist holds the other, increasing the strength of the exposition.

In the same way, this poem is a metaphor for unity and common identity. It talks about affinity, of belonging to a cosmos of consanguinity. If the artist could be naturally considered an individualist living in his imaginary world, art is nothing is you can’t share it.


DAMIEN LEVY

Damien Levy

Ruins and their use are a solid source of inspiration for Damien Levy. His sculpture practice includes for one part the construction, and for other part reparation, transformation, reactivation. Gesture and materials are diverted in order to transform the raw materials into a sculpture, an installation or a video.

Why is a strong community important in art, which is often a very solitary mode of expression ?

Damien Levy: A strong community is important because it allows you to share your views, works and techniques  with each other. It is a good way to create an emulation that can lead to the creation of group show or collaboration between artists. I think that having a strong community is almost essential!

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

DL: I was only 6 or 7 years old. It was an interactive sculpture by Jean Tinguely presented at the center Pompidou. It was a huge machine looking like a big engine in which you could throw tennis balls and then see them travel in the mechanism. Of course I loved it and it made me rethink what can or cannot be art.

How do your satellite sculptures fit in to your framing of spiritualism, machinery and the idolization of man?

DL: My work about satellites tries to talk about assemblage. It is a mix of machinery, lights, wood, concrete, steel and tries to speak about a dystopian world. In those sculptures that I call "dead machine" or "satellite" I am interested in representing some kind of icon or totem of an industrialize and science oriented world. My sculptures work like a glitch in the process of designing a machine that can, for example, fly or land on another planet. I call them "dead machine" because they are only a representation of what could be. The fact that they don’t actually have a functionality lead them to be sculpture and try to evoke surrealism. As for their name "Satellite" it refers to their particular form which seems sometimes rogue and strange. It is also because satellite can have many purpose from military use to observation or communication and this mix of purpose make them an interesting thing to work on and let me use a variety of materials and techniques. They are some kind of symbol of the achievement of technology and dreams of mankind and therefore a subject that interest me.


ENZO CERTA

Enzo Certa

Enzo Certa, born in 1989 to a Franco-Italian family, after studying art history and polychrome painting restoration, he decided to devote himself exclusively to painting. He later finished studying at Beaux-Arts in Paris in Tim Eitel's studio.

What are your feelings on the Parisian art scene here in 2018? What do you hope would change, if anything? What do you hope stays the same?

Enzo Certa: To me, the Parisian artistic scene should make peace with figurative painting. Hostility toward this media is slowly disappearing but some institutions, artistic residencies, or contemporary museums of arts in Paris and moreover in France still don’t really like to exhibit contemporary figurative painting. To me, painting is a kind of quaint media, which weirdly makes it a really contemporary practice.

What is your plan for 2019?

EC: Next year, while I continue to work on my paintings, I would like to start working again on my performance projects. I’m actually building suits and armors in paper maché. They’re made to be worn and act with. I think it will be my challenge next year to achieve these different projects after years of focusing more on painting.

Your implementation of figurative and impressionist techniques is prevalent in your work, yet modernized. How does this classical style communicate to modern audiences?

EC: While painting, I always have a lot of books next to me. Ancient paintings but also classical, baroque, contemporary paintings, abstraction or even comics and fashion magazines. There is no bad source of inspiration and none should be regarded as sacred. I’m not especially trying to be modern or contemporary while I create. I think this is how a piece can be surprising. Looking too often at only one era or one media can be draining.


FRANZ & FRITZ

Franz & Fritz

Franz & Fritz is a stage design studio founded by Davy Magal and François Beuchot. The studio brings knowledge of luminous materials into home interiors, creating obviously useful luminaries and bringing a certain emotion and theatrical lighting.

How do you go about creating a visual experience that reflects a product or brand with their own visual identity?

Franz & Fritz: Like every design, we have to transpose codes from a certain place to another medium. If the function is unique, the form can be changed and plural. This allows us to sculpt the lights in our own way and still talk about brand and concept. It was that that guided us to create lights. Leaving the world of order and creating our own universe mixing the influences from the stage and event to create emotions through the nature of the light.

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?

F&F: It’s certainly easier to be an artist now than in 1200. But we often mistake art, design and marketing. It’s a pity and doesn’t really help our world to stay unified. We should be more concerned about the emotions we deliver to others than likes or views that others give us. Art is a strong a powerful solution to spread messages and dreams. It has to be protected and enhanced by the artists.

What is your plan for 2019?

F&F: Keep going! We are working on a new light side by side with our light and set design activity. We are also preparing an installation for January.


MARIE PERRON

Marie Perron

Marie began her career as a stylist then devoted herself to illustration for the women’s press. For Continent Project, Marie Perron has painted a series of diptychs, oil on canvas, that she called Insularity. She let the subjects and the landscape talk each other, between the inner and the outer scenes, creating a confrontation between situations of isolation and moments of connection.

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…"

Marie Perron: I spent a whole year on a wild western French island where islanders call France “ le continent".  There, I measured to what extent one can resist isolation, and how one can stay connected to the rest of the world.  On an island the decor is limited, very familiar and paradoxically the power of the elements (sea, sky, light, wind) lead to a wonderful connection with the universe. It’s that dialogue between the body and the landscape which built the weft of my series of diptychs  “Insularity” The Continent Project is, for me, an occasion to resolve part of my insularity experience and isolation obsession.

You began your career as a stylist. How is that visual training incorporated in your paintings?

MP: The question of style remains a big part of my creation.  I pay attention to the decor and the ambiance I create by matching specific patterns, printed fabrics, and colourful furniture. 

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

MP: I remember being flabbergasted in front of one canvas of the series ‘S. mit kind’ by Gerhard Richter.  The painting depicts a young mother, holding against her naked shoulder, a baby wrapped in a blue duvet, a modern Holy Nativity. The small painting overwhelmed me because of its simple execution, luminous and blurry brushstrokes, a feeling of intimacy conveyed by the narrow frame, and delicate pastel shades.  It was such a condensed version of righteousness, and such a pure depiction of love.


MARINE BRAYNAERT

Marine Breynaert

Marine Breynaert’s vocabulary is made of raw lines, industrial history and precious materials. Trained at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and having passed through the textile and fashion worlds, Breynaert has managed to combine her different legacies and empowered her style to develop a consistent, strong and composed series.

What are the benefits of putting such a variety of practices in conversation with one another? What have you learned from a practice that is different than your own?

Marine Braynaert: “Imagination is the sum of two memories.” I really like this sentence of Gaston Bachelard. The miscegenation is fruitful, that’s for sure. Imagine 24 works born out of the spirit of 24 contemporary artists who add up. From this encounter can arise only a new and singular proposition. Very exciting.

What is your plan for 2019?

MB: Since my beginnings, my work has continued to evolve. This is still the case today. I feel an urgent need to move towards more radical pieces, to free myself from the classical forms of the object. Naturally, I feel the need to split my work in two, with, on the one hand, a permanent collection of everyday objects, and, on the other hand, editions of more experimental pieces.


NICOLAS D’HAUTEFEUILLE

Nicolas d'Hautefeuille

Nicolas D’Hautefeuille’s paintings are often composed of collage and imagination and are made on paper supports, with freshness in a stylish and spontaneous gesture. His curiosity for the human and his psychological acuity pushed him naturally towards the portrait. He draws his sources from magazines and from the everyday life.

Are you more inspired by the emotive details or the physical peculiarities of the subjects in your work?

Nicolas D’Hautefeuille: I would say that it is the part of fiction that can emerge from an attitude, a face, or a look that inspires me. A fiction that I tell myself in my head before I start working concretely. This can start from a detail like the branch of a pair of glasses or a haircut, but most often it is an attitude, a movement in the model, that gives an impulse, the desire to do something. This impulse is only a starting point, because then all this is transformed by the concrete effect of color and drawing, and I often land quite far from my starting scenario.

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

ND: I was in an amphitheater at an art history college during a course on the romantic movement in the 19th century. The professor projected a slide of a work by Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856) called  La Toilette d'Esther (1841). It was a shock because Esther was portrayed  in the guise of a beautiful blonde, bare breasts and arms raised, in a lascivious pose surrounded by maids.  In this picture, the framing is tight and the flesh of Esther is white; she stands out in a dark and vaguely oriental decor. The erotic character of this work hit me. My ears got heated and I became all red for a minute. Fortunately, nobody saw me because the slides were projected in the dark, which creates an atmosphere conducive to the imagination.  I was 22 years old and this is the age at which Chasseriau painted this work. I did not think that we could create so much trouble with a still image. I discovered without realizing that art was not just a pretty thing that belongs to culture and that we study, but something that can trigger emotion. I later found this impression by seeing the paintings of Eric Fischl (American, 1948) in 1994 during his first exhibition in France at Daniel Templon Gallery. These are works that magnetize you, that you would like to touch, to lick.

What is your plan for 2019?

ND: In 2019 I will stay focused on the portrait. I am a receptionist in a hotel in the suburbs of Paris. A few months ago, I started making painted portraits of travelers staying at the hotel. I paint after my service and I expose the portraits at the reception. Customers are challenged by this artistic approach in a hotel. Some recognize themselves and buy their portrait. I started this project this year and I would like to continue it in 2019. I decided to make 150 portraits in this hotel. The portrait is a good way of expression for me. It forces me to work quickly and finish the paintings.


PAULINE GUERRIER

Pauline Guerrier

Courtesy of Galerie Perpitch & Bringand

Photo by Adrien Thibaut

Pauline Guerrier is a 27-year-old artist who lives and works in Paris. She expresses herself through drawing and sculpture, installations, performance, and video with work featured at Art Paris Art Fair, Art Geneva, PAD, but also during Parcours Saint-Germain-des-prés, Villa Datris and Domaine des Etangs. Pauline Guerrier is represented by the Perpitch and Bringand gallery.

What are the benefits of putting such a variety of practices in conversation with one another? What have you learned from a practice that is different then your own?

Pauline Guerrier: I work with multiple techniques in the creation and I am fascinated by ones I can not control. I like listening to others’ experiences, and when they explain their work and techniques. This kind of event is unifying dialogue between the works, but also between the people who create them. In the case of this exhibition, we share the same space, which then becomes a course, a story, a world, in order to bring the viewer in a total immersion. 

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?

PG: I think there is no good or bad time to be an artist because the question of “becoming” does not make sense. We have it or we do not have it from the beginning. Artists in all the arts are federative of poetry, dream, and questioning. It can make some invisible fact visible, show another side of the world. I think that art can be federative of tolerance, an awareness of the wealth of men and the world but also show these aberrations and its atrocities. Artists reveal the world as they feel it with heart and soul. They talk about what pierces them and questions us. By all these actions I think that the artists help to unify the men because through the art there are no more borders, no more islands, no more territory, but one and only continent.

There is a deep connection to a primal spirituality seen in your work. What do the ancient traditions and ritualistic forms that you invoke in your work have to teach us in 2018?

PG: They have nothing to teach us since we already have that in us. Man has always been full of magic and spirituality. Beliefs are as old as humanity, they are there to give us hope, to help us to hold, to accompany us, to guide us and to free us. I try through my work to invoke this magic that exists in beliefs and to propose an escape, a gateway to magic and poetry. These works evoke impalpable worlds, and each one can interpret them as he wishes.