Inside the Studio


Favorite material to work with?
I do mixed media. I work on canvas (rarely on wood) with acrylic because of its rapid drying time, which is well suited to my mindset of “no time to lose.” I use oil pastels over acrylic, and sometimes incorporate spray paint and stencils in the final work. I also use painted craft paper and fix it on the canvas with wet paint to get the most integrated media as possible. I then scratch some part of the paint over the canvas.

What themes do you pursue?
I have a classical background. I always look for an underlying classicism, even when my paintings closely resemble street and urban art. I rarely plan to develop a precise theme, even though I am currently developing a series of seven paintings based on the seven deadly sins.

I often have images or stories come to my head, and I absolutely have to develop them. Sometimes I begin a painting, but the story changes as I go along, and the final result is absolutely no more than the initial idea. It is a permanent dialogue between me and me (and the colors) that I put on my paintings. I often discover several stories overlapping on a single canvas.

By looking a posteriori at what I do, I would say there are unintentionally common themes about introspection, lost childhood, solitude, violence of silence, what we would want to be but we are not, what we would want to do but we cannot.

How many years as an artist?
Since I was ten years old. I spent my time reproducing masterpieces of the Louvre museum with watercolor (Géricault or Delacroix). But I have two distinct lives. I once was dead, but now I am reborn. I lived in Africa for many years and began painting and exhibiting my work in various African areas in Abidjan, Lagos, Cotonou, Accra, and Lomé in the 1980’s. I won many prizes and became quite well known.

During the political putsch and latent civil war along the Ivory Coast, the galleries that permanently exhibited my stuff were destroyed (with all the paintings burned inside). So, I went back to Spain and France to begin a new life. For many years I was unable to take up my brush. I began to paint again nine years ago, and my style is totally different compared with my old stuff.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Be yourself. Do not cheat. Do not try to please someone. Do what you want to do without worrying about the opinion of others. If you are talented and if you are honest with yourself and with others, people will come to you. Go to the end of what you want to do. Have no regret, even if you fail.

Where is your studio?
At home. I live and work in the south of France near Perpignan (the train station of which is the center of the world, according to Salvador Dalí). I can see the Mediterranean Sea from my home window (with 300 sunny days per year). My studio is a small room, because I need to be concentrated and close as possible to the canvas and tools. My studio should be like the inside of a brain – small but full. It is not a living room but a working room.

Art school or self-taught?
Both. Art school in France, but more importantly, I developed my own universe and style inspired by others. You cannot find that in any art school.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
Music! I cannot work without music and sometimes music has a great influence on what I am doing. I am eclectic and I listen randomly to Mozart, Nina Simone, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, or hip hop music. Always played loud.

What’s around the corner from your place? 
The Mediterranean Sea, Perpignan (the center of the world), a fishing port, many vineyards and thus, a lot of wine.

Where can we find you outside of the studio?
There is a life outside my studio? You mean the world is bigger than my studio? With people? Cars? Nightclubs? Listen, I’m going to see the outdoors one of these days and then I’ll give you some news.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
I would be a Jedi…and a Guitar Hero! Yes, I’d like to be a Jedi Guitar Hero.

Day job?
Every day, afternoon, and night.

Favorite contemporary artist?
PICASSO FOREVER, then Basquiat.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Use anything other than paint?

Is painting dead?
Rock ’n Roll lives.

Favorite brush?
The first one I see on the table (often always the same… my precious!)