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Mikko Lagerstedt, the Emerging into Light

Contemporary artist Mikko Lagerstedt is an award winning fine art photographer from Finland whose enchanting photo series highlight some of Finland’s extraordinary landscapes. Mikko Lagerstedt is a 31-year-old self-taught photographer, who began taking his craft in 2008. He lives in Kerava just 18 miles from Helsinki.

Capturing simplistic Finnish landscapes and fleeting moments, he strives to use his atmospheric vision to inspire people. His surreal and unique work manages to bring an absolutely breathtaking aesthetic that depicts the mystical and sweeping splendor of the Finnish countryside while capturing the emotion of the moment.

His photography has been featured around the world in book covers, magazines and in advertisements.

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1. Do you consider yourself as a figure of contemporary photography ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : Not really, I feel that I’m just a photographer creating work that inspires me.

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2. How would you describe your style ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : Atmospheric landscape photography. A surreal look at how the World looks through my eyes.

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3. What led you to photography ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : My first inspiration towards photography came to me on a beautiful summer evening as I was driving to my relative’s cabin in Southern Finland. A beautiful vista opened on a field filled with fog and sunrays. I stopped and stared at it and felt the need to start capturing those unique moments.

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4. What has influenced you to create atmospheric photographs ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : It’s something that comes through my past and how I see life. I think it’s because of many things. One of the things that might have influenced me is that I lost my best friend when I turned 18. It was a difficult time for me. I haven’t thought about it, but I believe our past experiences make our present vision. I also know that the worst weather sometimes gives the best photographs.

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5. Félix Ziem, a very famous French painter in the style of the Barbizon school once said: “J’ai rêvé le beau ” (I’ve dreamed the beautiful). What does it mean to you?

Mikko Lagerstedt : For me, it means that we all have different perspectives on what is beautiful. It’s what makes you feel rather than see something.

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6. What’s your relationship with nature ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I have always been a solitary figure, and I have always enjoyed spending time in nature. I do enjoy to be around people, but when I’m out photographing alone, I feel that I’m in my element.

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7. How do you manage to bring this enchanting universe to your series?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I do what inspires me. I create how I see the World. I don’t overthink the process. I always try my best and push myself to the limits.

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8. Does “the Kalevala,” this epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish folklore and mythology inspire your work?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I haven’t thought about it. However, I think there might be a connection on how we Finns look at certain things. I love some of the poetry. I might have to go and visit again to refresh my mind with Kalevala.

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9. Which photographers have an impact on you ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I love the work of Brooke Shaden, Joel Tjintjelar and Martin Stranka. Of course, they might have influenced my work somehow. It’s sometimes hard to see it for yourself.

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10. What gear do you use ?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I use Nikon D810, D800, and various wide-angle lenses to create my photography.

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11. How do you play with lights?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I mostly use available light, or if I’m feeling super crazy, I might use a headlamp or a flashlight.

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12. What about your future plans?

Mikko Lagerstedt : I will continue to create work that inspires me. I also plan to build a community and influence more people by teaching photography and how to see the World from your unique perspective !

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More about Mikko Lagerstedt 

Beyond the visible with Luis Beltràn

Hailing from Valencia in Spain, contemporary photographer Luis Beltràn may be regarded as a storyteller who uses photography to set his mind free from everyday life. Through his pictures, Luis Beltrán talks about loneliness and mystery, suspended between reality and imagination and dedicates his work « to those who daydream, who live in fantasy worlds and don’t want to wake up ».

Although not entirely fantastical, his images have been retouched to make each setting slightly unreal, giving it a sense of the impossible while firmly keeping one foot in reality.

Luis Beltran is represented by Agora Gallery in New York, Blanca Berlin in Madrid, Artloveyou in Barcelona, Mediadvanced in Gijón and Galería O+O in Valencia. His work has been published in such magazines as Ex Magazine and Art Notes.

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1. Do you consider yourself as a figure of contemporary photography ?

Luis Beltràn : As long as I can remember, the pursuit of creativity and talent always fascinated me. One day, I discovered that I could express myself through photography. It allows me to show people how the world appears through my eyes and to tell stories that I think are worthy of sharing. I see myself as not just a photographer, but as someone with a vivid imagination that uses photography to capture my dreams and render them eternal.

2. How would you describe your style ?

Luis Beltràn : I’ve always believed simplicity is the best way to convey emotions and this belief I strive to apply to each of my works. There is beauty in simplicity, and this beauty is able to connect with us. I like to create dreamlike scenes where human beings interact with nature, looking for its essence.

3. What about your experience ?

Luis Beltràn : My first contact with photography was more than 20 years ago. I started with an old camera borrowed from a friend. To me, the darkroom is a magical place to develop photographs and I suggest to photography, enthusiasts to try this experience. Later on, digital photography opened me a world of infinite creative possibilities that allowed me realise ideas that were not possible before. Photography changed my way of seeing the world and helped me find a meaning in my life.

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4. Your work is transfigured by a poetic and fantastic vision…

Luis Beltràn : I like to explore human feelings in my photography, for example, loneliness or sadness. I find my own feelings to be inexhaustible source of inspiration, so I never hesitate to use introspection as a means of fuelling my creativity. I feel comfortable travelling to a fantastic world where everything is simple but at the same time is beautiful and eternal.

5. Do you express the hope to transform the world in a particular way ?

Luis Beltràn : I don’t expect to change the world with my photography, although I wish I could. When I’m creating, I do it for myself just because I feel that way. I take great pleasure when people connect meaningfully with my artwork, so in this sense I do hope to transform the world, even if it is simply one person at a time, making their day a little better.

6. Are you influenced by Painting ?

Luis Beltràn : Painting is a discipline I admire due to its ability to recreate a fantasy world that evoke in me an infinity of feelings. I am probably influenced by some artists because of the colour and style of their work.

7. Which photographers have an impact on your work ?

Luis Beltràn : There are countless good photographers whom I admire, most of them with an amazing talent. Some are not really well known but are nonetheless fantastic artists. I think every time I contemplate a good photo there is something that remains inside of me and influences my work. I like so many authors with different style but if I should highlight one, it would be Eugenio Recuenco. He inspires to me to demand even more from myself, to create even better photographs.

8. Are you fascinated by the children’s world ?

Luis Beltràn : I recall with nostalgia moments in my childhood where I can create free from the boundaries of the adult world. I like to think back to the years when I was a child and live again those past moments full only of happiness and inner peace.

9. What’s your relation with nature ?

Luis Beltràn : I like to escape the city to places where I can meditate and find, inside of me, feelings that we let slowly die while we are growing older. That only can happen when nature surrounds me. It is with nature that I feel at peace with myself.

10. What about the future ?

Luis Beltràn : Fashion and advertising photography, my main occupation for the past four years, it’s a demanding career that requires a lot of time. At present, it doesn’t really allow me to work on my personal work. I would like to carry out some projects in the future, although so far they are just some ideas that need to take shape… My head needs to dream again…

More info about Luis Beltràn

Les voyages mirifiques de Julien Pacaud

Artiste & illustrateur français, Julien Pacaud maîtrise l’art du graphisme et du collage digital pour créer des illustrations originales et surréalistes. Né en 1972, Julien Pacaud fait ses gammes à l’école de cinéma Louis Lumière de 1993 à 1996. Il y rencontre Jean-Christophe Sanchez avec qui il crée l’institut Drahomira, où il s’exprime dans les domaines de la musique, du cinéma et des arts graphiques. C’est en 2002 que Julien Pacaud se lance dans “le collage digital” après avoir découvert les possibilités infinies offertes par le numérique pour manipuler les images. Enfant, Julien Pacaud a été bercé par le graphisme décalé des pochettes d’albums de Storm Thorgerson pour les Pink Floyd, l’atmosphère novatrice et surréaliste des films de David Lynch ainsi que l’univers énigmatique de la série « La Quatrième Dimension ».

Avant d’être illustrateur, Julien Pacaud se dit astrophysicien, joueur de billard professionnel, ou hypnotiseur. Fortement attiré par l’univers du cinéma et des années 1900 & 1970, ses collages géométriques s’inspirent également de l’œuvre de Magritte dont il est un fervent admirateur.

Julien Pacaud produit de nombreuses illustrations pour la presse, les magazines et travaille également pour la publicité, et pour certains chanteurs dont il fait la jaquette des albums. En 2010, Julien Pacaud a reçu le Swatch Special Prize aux Young Illustrators Awards à Berlin, et a obtenu l’honneur de designer une montre en série limitée. Julien Pacaud expose aussi bien en Australie, qu’au Danemark ou aux Etats-Unis.

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1. Vous considérez-vous comme une figure émergente dans l’art contemporain ?

Julien Pacaud : Émergente, pas vraiment, car cela fait maintenant près d’une quinzaine d’années que j’ai commencé à créer des images.

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2. Comment définiriez-vous votre style ?

Julien Pacaud : J’utilise une technique de collage numérique. Je ne sais pas si c’est à moi de définir mon « style », mais je pense que les adjectifs de « surréaliste », « métaphysique », « rétro-futuriste », peuvent être employés.

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3. Racontez- nous votre parcours…

Je suis autodidacte. Après des études de cinéma à l’école Louis Lumière, j’ai été amené, un peu par hasard, à découvrir un nouvel outil – l’ordinateur-, qui m’a tout de suite plu afin de créer des images et de donner vie à des scènes que j’avais en tête. Je me suis tout de suite senti à l’aise avec cet outil et cette manière de travailler qui correspondait mieux à mon besoin de travail en solitaire. Après plusieurs années de créations et expérimentations réalisées pendant mon temps libre, j’ai rejoins une agence d’illustrateurs (Talkie Walkie) qui m’a finalement permis de pouvoir vivre de ce travail créatif.

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4. En quoi consiste votre travail autour du collage ?

Julien Pacaud : J’ai toujours travaillé avec l’outil numérique, sans ciseaux et sans colle, mais avec beaucoup plus de possibilités qu’en utilisant la technique traditionnelle du collage. Je cherche à organiser le chaos, en travaillant à partir de sources photographiques très diverses mais soigneusement choisies, et avec la volonté de créer à partir de celles-ci des univers qui soient assez cohérents visuellement. Avec chaque image, je souhaite raconter une histoire, même si elle peut rester assez mystérieuse pour le spectateur.

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5. Quel regard portez-vous sur le graphisme des affiches soviétiques ?

Julien Pacaud : C’est un style graphique qui m’intéresse et qui m’a influencé au début de mon travail. Néanmoins, je pense que je m’en suis un peu lassé. Peut-être parce qu’il a beaucoup été recyclé ces dernières années, et parce que ce style correspond moins au type d’images que j’ai envie de créer. Je ne me considère pas comme un graphiste, je pense parfois que je serais finalement plus proche d’un photographe, ou d’un cinéaste.

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6. L’oeuvre de Magritte vous inspire-t-elle ?

Julien Pacaud : Énormément, oui. S’il fallait ne choisir qu’une influence, ce serait sûrement celle-là. Magritte est l’un de mes artistes préférés.

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7. Comment nourrissez-vous votre imaginaire au quotidien ?

Julien Pacaud : Je ne sais pas si je le nourris assez. Je crois qu’il faut s’ennuyer pour nourrir son imaginaire. J’ai l’impression de ne plus m’ennuyer assez! En tout cas, les livres, les films, la musique, viennent nourrir un univers intérieur.

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8. Quels rapports entretenez-vous avec l’univers du cinéma ?

Julien Pacaud : Comme je le disais, j’ai fait des études de cinéma. C’est la forme d’art qui m’a toujours le plus intéressé. Cependant, je ne pense pas avoir la personnalité, la ténacité, le courage, d’en faire moi-même. Mais je considère presque mon travail comme du cinéma muet et immobile. Des instantanés d’histoire étranges. Des morceaux de scénario de science-fiction surréalistes..

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9. Vous considérez-vous comme un Jules Verne des temps modernes : vous maîtrisez à la perfection le voyage dans le temps…

Julien Pacaud : Ce serait un peu présomptueux. Mais il n’y a pour l’instant, qu’avec l’art que cela soit possible, donc pourquoi s’en priver ? Le temps me fascine et m’effraie à la fois. Je pense que j’ai besoin de le maltraiter un peu.

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10. Quels sont vos projets à venir ?

Julien Pacaud : Je prépare ma participation à une exposition collective à Taïwan en octobre prochain, et un concert avec mon projet musical « Drahomira Song Orchestra », qui aura lieu pendant l’Etrange Festival à Paris en septembre. Plus hypothétiquement, j’espère reprendre un projet de livre, que je laisse trainer depuis des années..

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En savoir plus sur Julien Pacaudwww.julienpacaud.com

Capturing the humanity of the moment with Albarrán Cabrera

Albarrán Cabrera are the photographers Anna Cabrera (b. 1969, Sevilla) and Angel Albarrán (b. 1969, Barcelona) who work together as a collaborative duo based in Barcelona.

The work of Albarrán Cabrera has been shown in galleries and photo fairs in Spain, Japan, Switzerland, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Lebanon, Italy and the United States. Anna and Angel both have studied under photographers such as Humberto Rivas and Toni Catany, among others.

Some of their prints have become part of private collectors and institutions such as Hermes, Goetz Collection, Banco de Santander, Fundación de Ferrocarriles Españoles among others. They have also produced printing work for several institutions like Fundació La Pedrera in Barcelona, Fundació Toni Catany in Mallorca, Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid or Barcelona Photographic Archive.

 

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1. Do you consider your tandem as a figure of contemporary photography ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : We are sons of this time and era and we embrace the new possibilities, while at the same time we keep using ancient techniques. Our attitude is to have as many tools as possible to better convey a message.

To create our prints we use all what we have at our disposal: from processes created at the end of the 19th century to the newest ones. Thus, we use old techniques such as platinum/palladium or cyanotype, to digital negatives or pigment prints. Our motto is the more tools you have the more creative you can be. The only requirement is not to be afraid of experimenting and spend lots and lots of time learning, learning and learning.

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2. How would you describe your style ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : We have never actively looked for one, so we cannot describe it. Photography is something closely related to our personal growth as persons. Our goal is to learn and know more about the reality that surrounds us and photography is the tool to understand and learn more. This means that our “style” evolves at the same time we are learning, and therefore changing, as human beings.

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3. For how long have you been working together ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : We met each other in 1987 and the way of behaving explained above started then. But working “seriously” and being conscious of the importance of photography as a tool to learn is something that started around 1994 when we rebuilt our first “serious” darkroom at home.

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4. Tell us about your experience…

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : Our relation with photography started a long time ago at a time when we were still working independently. It was for us, as for most people, a way to store memories. When we met is when we realised that photography can also be a way, or an excuse, to learn more about the world you live in.

Time, reality, existence, identity and empathy are highly interesting subjects, but the most fascinating thing is the relation between them. These relations are difficult for us to explain by means of words and that’s why we rely on images. We are particularly interested in memories and the role they play in our understanding of these subjects and relations.

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5. What mission do you photograph ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : Juan Rulfo in his book Pedro Páramo writes: “Nothing can last forever; there is no memory, however intense, that does not fade.”

The fact of collecting images or not depends on the person. For us, photographs reinforce our memory.  And at the same time, they provide us with a wider knowledge and a better understanding of the world around us. Personally speaking, we are as interested in the objects photographed as in all the ideas and knowledge which we have to previously acquire in order to conceptualize them as images.

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6. Your work arouses many emotions to the viewer as an introspection into the intimate realms…

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : we may not be able to answer the big questions about time, reality or space, but we are interested in exploring how a photographic image can make people think about their reality. Being aware is not just an important part of life; it is life as we know it. By using photography, we want the viewers to increase empathy and arouse interest towards their reality.

We are particularly interested in memories and how they work. We want to play with the memories of the viewers to construct a representation inside their minds. Of course we will never know what the final result will be, because any person has different memories and grew up in different cultures and environments. Our images will only be the bare bones of this mental construction.

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7. Which artists influence you ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : Different kinds of artists belonging to different disciplines such as photographers, painters, writers and scientists have always had a strong influence on us. To name a few:  Josef Albers, Harry Callahan, Luigi Guirri, Duane Michals, Toni Catany, Pentti Sammallahti, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Ralph Gibson, Masao Yamamoto, Adam Fuss, Gerhard Richter, Giorgio de Chirico, Pierre Soulages, Giorgio Morandi, Anseln Kieffer, Lee Ufan, Julio Cortázar, Yasutaka Tsutsui, Haruki Murakami, George Orwell, Juan Rulfo, Tawara Yusaku, Michio Kaku, Erwin Shröedinger, Carlo Rovelli, Satoshi Kon, Wong Kar Wai, Christopher Doyle….

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8. Could you define yourself as a witness of the world around you ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : Any human being is a witness of the world around him, but that world has been created by his perception.  In turn, perception is not reality, but a projection of ourselves. Our purpose when using photography is to make visible elements which are perceived but that we cannot see at first sight.

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9. Your work could be described as a memory syndrome full of poetry…

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : We believe that we are our memories. They define what we are and help us to understand our reality. When we remember, we do not recall a perfect stored representation of the event. A memory is not a snapshot or movie of our lives. We reconstruct our memories based on a set of things that happened, that we perceived and imagined. What those things are also depend on our past experiences, our knowledge, and us. Consequently, each time we recall an event, we change it. We construct a skeleton with the most important pieces and fill the gaps with our imagination. So the memory recreated is not a perfect representation of the event. Our memories are rather flawed but we do not even realize it.

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10. Japan seems to have a deep impact on you both

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : Japanese culture is very important for our work and us. This culture is subject to many stereotypes and enormous misconceptions. At the beginning, you can fall into the trap of its aesthetics and philosophy. But once you study the language, the people and their history, you discover the reality about this country: the good, bad and horrible things -that any country has-. And yet, there is still something fascinating: Japan offers us a completely different interpretation of reality compared to our Western conception. We all live in the same world, but it is interpreted from many, totally different points of view.

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11. How do your organize your work together ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : We met each other in 1987 but started to sign together some 18 years ago.When we met, we realized that we had many things in common and one of them was photography.  So, we decided to work on that together.  

Our working methodology has been changing over the years, though.  At the beginning, we went shooting together, but in the lab, each of us used to process and print their own pictures. But the resulting images were very similar as our way of seeing is also very much alike. As it had no sense to continue working like that, we changed it. 

Now we function as if we were just a single photographer. Our images are mixed and we work with them in the darkroom or the computer without thinking who really took them.

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12. What about the future ?

Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán : We want to continue learning and working in new projects. Because of photography, we are studying new languages, we are travelling to new countries and meeting really interesting people.

To live our everyday life as photographers is the most important thing for us right now, so we are deeply enjoying the ride.

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More about Anna P. Cabrera & Angel Albarrán 

Christopher Wilson, itinerary of a gifted man

Christopher Wilson is a highly talented, multifaceted photographer who shoots a variety of subjects. His strong visual style unifies many disparate genres. After 15 years in the advertising world as a writer and art director, Christopher Wilson jumped off a cliff to start Photography. As an advertising creative, Christopher Wilson created a vast portfolio of powerful campaigns for some of the most recognized luxury brands there are, including Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar, Nikon and Ritz-Carlton to mention only a few. During his career as Audi’s creative director, Wilson was responsible for some of the most beautiful and compelling pieces.

Pursuing an atypical path, he has been a ballet dancer in a previous life. He danced 8 hours a day, made no money, survived on bread and coffee, lost 20 pounds he didn’t have, looked like hell and broke his ankle twice…. And prior to that time, he was at Dartmouth College where he studied Ancient Greek and Latin Literature. Good stuff to know, he says, if you ever want to work in the Vatican.

Why did a man well into his advertising career move into photography ? The answer is more interesting than the question : he is an artist, not just an ad man, and his experience informs both his art and his vocation.

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1. Do you consider yourself as a figure of contemporary photography ?

Christopher Wilson : If the question is do I consider myself a contemporary photographer, the answer would be no. The word “contemporary” is not a word I’d use to describe my work. If anything, I’d love my imagery to be feel more timeless, more classical. It’s really quite simple for me: I just want to create something that resonates with the heart. Robert Frank once wrote, “When people look at my photographs I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.” I love that, as that is exactly the way I would love my photographs to be “read,” if you will – as a beautiful poem.

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2. How would you describe your style ?

Christopher Wilson : “Style” is a funny word for me, as I feel it implies that there is a conscious decision on my part to impose a look on my imagery. There isn’t. Not at all. I know people say I do have a style, and use words such as graphic and clean to describe my work, but I never start out intending to make my images fit within a certain style. They just often end up looking a certain way as the result of an intention just to get to the heart of the matter – which, for me, usually means a lot of editing out in terms of elements within a composition. There is a lot of forethought that goes into every project I shoot, and my framing is very considered, and that I suppose plays into my “style.” People often say all my work – regardless of what I am shooting – hangs together, and speaks with a certain and distinct voice. And I can see that, but, again, if this is so, it all happens unconsciously. There is no plan on my part to have my imagery fit within a look. That would be horrible, I think, and very limiting in the end.

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3. Dancer, writer, art director, photographer. Tell us about your several faces.

Christopher Wilson : Well, life is funny, isn’t it ? You start off thinking you’re going down a certain path and you’re going to do this thing, and then the path twists and turns and you end up going down another path, and before you know it, years have passed and you’re doing something you never imagined you would be doing. That’s the way life has been for me. I never ever imagined I’d be a professional photographer. There was no intention, ever, of being one. One thing just led to another which led to another. And now, looking back at my life, it all makes sense to me. Everything I’ve done in my life, whether I succeeded at it or failed miserably, has informed who I am now as a human being and as a photographer, and I’m grateful for it all. I don’t have several faces. It’s just one face on one path that has a lot of twists and turns.

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4. What about your jump into photography ?

Christopher Wilson : To be honest, I didn’t make a conscious decision, ever, to become a photographer. There was no jumping into photography on my part. What is more true is that I fell into photography. I was working as an art director at Team One in L.A., helping them create a new campaign for Ritz-Carlton. I shot some images for my layouts. The campaign died, but the agency liked my imagery enough that they asked me to photograph another campaign for Ritz-Carlton in Vietnam. And that was the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t have told you the difference between an f-stop and an ISO for the life of me. But somehow, wonder of wonders, it all worked out. And it led to another project. And then another. And then I woke up a year or two later, and discovered I was making more money shooting than I was art directing or writing.

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5. Is capturing the world a way of marking history in your own way ?

Christopher Wilson : No, I’ve never thought of my work in this way. But this is what I believe. I believe a great image can have the power to restore faith and heal, and that is what motivates me now as a photographer. The question I live in now is: How can I be a counterweight to the divisiveness in this world ? Seamus Henley, the Irish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, once wrote that poetry can be exactly that – a powerful counterweight to the evil in the world. And I feel, as silly as it may sound, my job as a human being is to be a counterweight to hate. It is the only way I know how to be a part of the antidote to violence. I fail way more often than not, of course, but it is THE driving force in me now, and it has allowed me to be a better father, a better husband, a better friend, a better human being really. And unquestionably, it is the driving force for me as a photographer. I don’t care what I’m shooting, or if I’m shooting for a client or not, I am always looking for something that could live as a counterweight to hate.

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6. How do you manage to unify many disparate genres in your work ?

Christopher Wilson : I never think about unifying anything. I’m only interested in shooting what’s in front of the camera to the best of my ability, with the hope of capturing something compelling. It’s always about solving a problem. What can I do to make this image interesting ? Where should the light come from ? What would make for a great background or location ? That sort of thing. There is no “managing disparate genres” involved at all. No conscious intent to make all my work, regardless of genre, hang together. That all happens unconsciously. My feeling on this matter is, since it’s all coming from me, it all looks like my work. It’s odd. I’m always looking to break out, and do something different than what I do, but somehow, no matter what I do, it always ends up looking like what I do. 


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7. What other artists influence you ?

Christopher Wilson : I’m not sure I’m influenced by any artists. I do look at many artists, however, for inspiration. Some artists, whether they be photographers or painters, I look at for composition, and points of view. Others I love because of their use of color. Others for their use of light and darkness. Sometimes it’s just their spirit I love. Nadav Kander, for example, I love for his restlessness. I feel he is constantly searching to create something fresh. I don’t always love his imagery, but I love his spirit of experimentation. I also love Irving Penn, for the same reason. He could photograph anything and make it art. I love Albert Watson for his black and white portraiture. There is an edge to his work that I am always drawn to. None of my imagery could ever be compared to any of these photographic giants. Never. And I have no desire to be them. It’s their spirit and passion that inspires me. My only desire is to somehow be me, whatever that may mean. It’s a constant trying to stripe away to be as authentic as possible. Mostly I fail. Sigh. But I keep working at it. Maybe when I’m old and decrepit.

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8. Do you think photography perpetuates the figurative fiction of painting ?

Christopher Wilson : That is an interesting question, as, coincidentally enough, it’s one I am living in right now. I want to do more portraiture, and I find myself looking much more at figurative paintings than photography now for inspiration. Just recently I discovered the figurative work of Francis Bacon, and I absolutely loved it. I also am a huge fan of the drawings of Useless Arm, a contemporary artist. Somehow, I would like to take my photographer, and particularly my portraiture, in a more painterly direction. I’m not sure what that means yet, but it’s really what interests me most right now.

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As an example of this, over the last few months I’ve been reworking portraits I photographed of indigenous tribes in Tanzania, trying to make them feel more painterly, if you will.

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These profile images of a Maasai warrior, in particular, reminds me of the early Renaissance portraits of Piero della Francesca – which was completely unintentional on my part. But I did study Renaissance Art in college, so it must have come out unconsciously in this image.

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9. What about your passion for bikers and races ?

Christopher Wilson : Again, as with the photographers that inspire me, I love photographing people who are passionate about what they do, whether they be race car drivers, bespoke bike builders, surfers, cowboys, what have you. None of these things are my passions, but there is something about people who are up to stuff, who push their limits, who dare, who are in love with life, that I find absolutely compelling. In some ways, photographing them is easy, as the camera loves their spirits and energy. All of them inspire me, and expand my life immensely.

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10. What are you most proud of ?

Christopher Wilson : That’s easy. My wife, and my two daughters. My wife, Cathy, is everything to me. My wife, my partner, my life. This woman rocks in so many way I can’t even begin to list them. Not only is she my wife, she is the best producer I’ve ever worked with, and the business end of my company. She is my fifth Beatle – the one that gets no credit, but actually deserves most of the credit. I can’t imagine my life with her in it. Why she said yes to me I have no idea. And my two daughters? What can I say. They are, by far, the best things I’ve ever created.

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11. Do you travel often ?

Christopher Wilson : Yes. All the time. It’s part of the job of being a photographer. And I feel very blessed that what I do for a living has allowed me to see so much of this beautiful planet. I pinch myself all the time, as I can’t believe it’s happening.

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12. What about your future plans ?

Christopher Wilson : My list of potential projects is endless. When I’m not working for a client, I’m always working on personal projects. Right now, I have three that are consuming me. One, going back to Jamaica and photographing more formal portraits of Rastafarians. Not the rent-a-dreads, as the locals call them, that you’d see on the beach. But the real gurus, if you will, who live in the mountains. I find their disciplined, sparse lifestyles fascinating. Secondly, I’m working on a journal that I hope to publish quarterly. It would include my photography, of course. But I want to include other artists, as well – particularly writers and poets. I want this publication to be a printed community, if you will, for visual inspiration. And lastly, I’m working on project with a dear friend of mine who is a passionate biker and bespoke bike builder. I want to document his personal offroad odyssey through Bolivia, where the journey through these barren landscapes becomes the outward manifestation of an inward journey of self-discovery. I’m very excited about all these projects.

More about Christopher Wilson

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Pop art at the crossroads between worlds with Ketna Patel

Born in 1968, Ketna Patel  is a British-Indian contemporary pop artist based in Singapore. She has lived in three different continents: Africa; Asia; and Europe. She is of Indian descent but is born in East Africa and holds a British citizenship.

After graduating from The Architectural Association in London with a degree in architecture, Ketna Patel moved to Singapore to begin her career as an architect. Afterwards, a disillusionment with the corporate world led her on a journey of metaphysical exploration, when she started questioning her existence, her place in the world, and society in general. Having given up a corporate career, Ketna Patel then embarked on a career as an artist.

The art of Ketna Patel reflects much of her own personal journey as an outsider and global citizen, observing, discovering and embracing one’s cultural identity and the desire to belong to a community. Reflections of socio-political and cultural identity exploration in everyday life of today and yesterday are common themes portrayed through her art. Her mission is simply to communicate the story of the lesser-known individual within these landscapes. 

In addition to having won awards such as the ASEAN Art Award in 2002, Ketna Patel’s artwork has captured attention outside the arts circles. Most recently, her Asia Pop collection was used as inspiration for fashion label AllDressedUp’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection. Ketna Patel has recently been featured in Bridget Tracy Tan’s ‘Women Artists of Singapore’ published by Select Books, Singapore.

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1. Do you consider yourself as a figure of Contemporary Art ?

Ketna Patel : I feel that the term ‘Contemporary Art’ has become conveniently generalized, and often avoids the reflection and rethinking that is needed to understand our increasingly complex world.  Others call me ‘contemporary Artist’, but I straddle many realms that are independent of each other, yet connected through my world perspective.  These are:  Studio Artist, Designer, Observer / Traveller, Activist, Student, Communicator.

I think society exists in a ‘Heterotopic’ space today where Art can and should be categorized in ways that go beyond the contemporary!  We need a better critique of what Art is, and sometimes, words and limp definitions simply get in the way.

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2. How would you describe your style ?

 Ketna Patel : Global. Pop. Fluid. Chameleon. Relative.

Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, pose with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family at Buckingham Palace, after their wedding, 20th November 1947. The two pageboys are Elizabeth's cousins, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent, and the eight bridesmaids are Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lady Mary Cambridge, Lady Elizabeth Lambart, Pamela Mountbatten, Margaret Elphinstone and Diana Bowes-Lyon. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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3. Could you tell us about your experience ?

Ketna Patel : We are a product of our conditioning and of original thought. For the former, my experience is my Indian background that I wear on me like a snail with a shell. Growing up in Kenya, East Africa, I always felt like I could not quite relate to all the people I was exposed to, and my inner world seemed larger than my outer. This gave way to creativity; to make things out of nothing. I was fascinated by human behaviour, and conveyor belt type lives where many individuals seemed like walking templates. It made me wonder about the opposite! Some people call it Philosophy – my favourite subject. So I was attracted to subjects that combined aesthetics and visceral expression with the rigour of thought, analysis and contemplation of life.

I studied Art, Interior Design and Architecture for a decade in London, and moved to Singapore to work as an Architect. Being trapped in an office all day for a few years brought out the rebel in me, and since then, I have become an official member of that expanding tribe of Global, cultural chameleons! Like many of us, I also belong to The older I become, all the ‘external labels’ of country, culture, nationality etc. seem to matter less compared to the geography inside of us.

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4. Does your dual nationality nurture your worldview ?

Ketna Patel : Absolutely.  Most of my acute realizations taken place when I am on the ‘bridge’ between things, places and people.  That middle space which is often invisible, overlooked, taken for granted or neglected. I am an indian who grew up in Africa, and yet have had a British passport all my life. All my extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins etc. live in London, and I am very close to them. Through them, I see how the British – East African – Gujarati diaspora works, and that has made me sensitive and therefore attracted to other diasporas. All my life, I seem to have constantly oscillated from ‘first world’ to ‘third world’; poverty to wealth; chaos to over systematization.  It is in these contrasts that the wealth of my observations lie.

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5. You’re living in Singapore, a good crossroad in Asia…

Ketna Patel : Singapore has been the longest I have lived anywhere, and it will always feel like home. For more than two decades, it has been the launchpad into countless travels; a myriad of lives and cultures, and has been the most cosmopolitan experience of my life thus. This is where I really discovered ‘Asia’, and ‘Asians’.  This is also where I made my closest friendships, many of which are all over the world today, and refreshed constantly.

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6. Your indian roots definitely reflect in your work, it could be considered as a tribute ?

Ketna Patel : My ‘Indianess’ is such a fundamental part of me. Having cultural and linguistic access to one of the most ancient living civilizations in the world is a source of immense joy, but also a responsibility for the ‘story telling’ part of me.   Even when the experiences in India have been painful, the life lessons embedded within are throbbing with human vitality, teaching me about the shades of grey between the dark and light sides of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I love delving into India’s history; its mythology and symbolism, and simultaneously partaking in its bewildering present day paradoxes. India and being Indian has been the biggest teacher of humility for me, and has helped me to see the whole world as a ‘stage set’, with each of our metaphysical experiences within this world as being temporal and fleeting. Its not what we do that matters so much as the state of consciousness we are in when we live our lives. That has made me see almost everything as a grand allegory, with myself being the metaphor.

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7. Do you think that Art is fulfilling yet a specific mission nowadays ?

Ketna Patel : Art and the ‘value’ of Art, combined with the rigging of the presentation of Art indicates tremendous manipulation. Art also seems to have become a fashion. The ‘platforms’ that Art has to sit on in order for it to reach an audience is quite problematic in that direct communication between the Artist and the audience has been impeded by the agents in between. Even if their intentions are sincere, crazy costs get in the way, and sales and marketing becomes pre-meditated, and increasingly loses its freshness and innocence. Capitalism is killing Art, for true Art expression requires freedom. For example London has become too expensive for an artist to have a full time regular Arts practice. Artists need to be largely free to comment, criticize, make Art. Instead, I see many Artists forced to ‘hustle’ so that they can make their ends meet.  Also, there is a lot of ‘fake it until you make it’ going on….

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8. Which artists have a deep impact on you work ?

Ketna Patel : The famous names are important as bookmarks in the narration of our human history, but these tend to be largely western, so apart from an educational, appreciative and respectful acknowledgement. It is Art coming out of the marginalized communities that I am fascinated by. Many a time, it is the ‘unknown’ tribal or folk artist and their expressions who leave the most lasting impressions on me. For e.g Indian truck art, graffiti by Palestinians in Israel, African street signs, newspaper caricatures, aboriginal art etc. Often, my compositions fuse both the sensibilities of ‘high art’ and ‘marginalized art’ resulting in what has been defined as ‘Pop’ Art.

Literature, more than visual Art also moves and influences me greatly. I am attracted by philosophy, so naturally gravitate towards the road less traveled; to individuals who do not have to belong to a group or organization or club to feel rooted. Forever trying to figure out how much of me is conditioned and how much original, and I delight in stumbling across / resonating with words from a book, a heartfelt story, a human wavelength that can explore the abstract; the mystical; the comic.

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 9. What’s your relationship with colors ?

Ketna Patel : Every emotion, person, experience, culture, smell and memory comes with associative colours, so to ‘unpack’ these intuitively is like second nature. Colour is frozen energy; compressed emotion. I grew up with very strong expressions of colour surrounding me; from the kenyan kitenge cloth and the masaai tribes, to the sarees and clothes of the Gujarati Indian community I hail from. I use colour very deliberately in my compositions; to highlight the passion, politics and tension behind each narrative. Often, the artworks appear very ‘pretty’, but are laden with subtext and darkness upon closer inspection.

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10. What kind of materials do you use ?

Ketna Patel : A lot of my work involves re-composing photographs from my travels, so my studio is often my computer! However, I love getting my hands dirty too, and this can be with found objects, paint, textiles, car bonnets….absolutely anything and everything!

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11. Do you travel often ?

Ketna Patel : Yes. At least half my time seems to be ‘on the road’ or in temporary studios.

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12. What is your favorite memory as an artist ?

Ketna Patel : Walking through places with strong history. Varanasi, Venice, Balbeck in Lebanon, Jerusalem, Cairo, Petra (Jordan), Cuba, Borobodur (Indonesia) to name a few. My emotional experiences are always heightened in spaces that have been painted with the patina of ‘time’.

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13. Have you ever worked with fashion designers ?

Ketna Patel : Yes.  A Fashion label called ‘Alldressedup’ in Singapore recently worked with me for their spring summer collection, which was shown in 25 countries.  A fun project!

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 14. Are you an optimist by nature ?

 Ketna Patel : But of course!

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15. What are your future plans ?

Ketna Patel : For many years now, I have been witnessing the increasing urbanization of human society, and all the repercussions this brings.  For e.g, my studio in India is in Pune, one of the fastest growing cities.  There is a lot to analyze from just what is happenning there.

In India, where 75 % of people live in villages, 30 people leave rural environments to move to cities. What will this do to our national identity? Our policy makers seem to measure everything in terms of jobs and GDP and other such data. What about the loss in wisdom, local knowledge, our individual dignities? Rampant migration anywhere has a huge impact, and this is my main subject of enquiry.  My suitcase is always packed and on standby!

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More about Ketna Patel : www.ketnapatel.com

Mouvements de l’être intérieur avec Caroline Denervaud

C’est à travers la symbiose entre le mouvement et le corps que l’artiste plasticienne Caroline Denervaud approche ses compositions : elle danse pour “se parcourir”, et peint pour garder l’empreinte des mouvements de son esprit en rapport avec les conditions du monde qui l’entoure. Dans cet acte créateur, son corps participe activement à cette quête d’une forme simple et d’un équilibre juste pour représenter à l’aide de son pinceau, les contours d’un mouvement, d’un instant, d’une émotion quelque soit le média : une performance, une video, une peinture ou un collage. 

Cette méditation autour du mouvement demeure son moyen d’expression le plus sincère, brut, et libérateur. C’est à travers ses vidéos qui répondent méticuleusement à une unité de temps, de lieu et d’action que l’on parvient à s’immerger dans le souffle créatif de Caroline Denervaud : des mouvements de danse s’entremêlent aux gestes du matériau pour parvenir à un équilibre ténu et apporter une vie nouvelle à l’art de la performance. 

Née en 1978 à Lausanne et vivant actuellement à Paris, Caroline Denervaud étudie la danse et la Chorégraphie au Laban Center à Londres. Après un accident, elle décide d’orienter ses recherches et se forme aux Beaux-Arts de Paris puis au Sudio Berçot. 

1. Vous considérez-vous comme une figure de l’art contemporain ?

Caroline Denervaud : On pourrait dire que je suis une chercheuse dans mon art, à une époque contemporaine.

2. Comment définiriez-vous votre style ?

Caroline Denervaud : Poétique, joueur, parfois risqué, un peu naïf, spontané, sans doute assez abstrait.

3. Racontez-nous votre parcours…

Caroline Denervaud : Mon rêve aurait été d’être danseuse. Après des études de danse à Londres et un accident, j’ai du arrêter, un peu brutalement. Il fallait alors continuer autrement. Je suis entrée aux Beaux-Arts de Paris pour deux ans, puis au Studio Berçot pour y étudier la mode. C’est seulement en 2014 que j’ai osé montrer mon travail, notamment sur Instagram et cachée sous un pseudo. Ce premier pas fut comme une naissance, une existence plutôt. Depuis je continue à présenter mes recherches et à exposer. Je continue à chercher, à faire sortir, à lâcher, jouer… quotidiennement.

4. Peut-on dire que vous êtes une artiste pluridisciplinaire ?

Caroline Denervaud : Oui. J’ai besoin de cette liberté, je ne veux pas m’enfermer dans une seule discipline.

5. Quelles figures artistiques vous inspirent au quotidien ?

Caroline Denervaud : Pina Bausch, Paul Klee, Jean Arp, Serge Poliakoff, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Picasso, Morandi, les frères Van Velde, Calder, les Dadas.

6. La chorégraphe Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker définit la danse comme “une architecture en mouvement”, n’êtes-vous pas dans la même mouvance appliquée aux arts plastiques ?

Caroline Denervaud : J’ai suivi un stage chez Anne Teresa de Keermaeker et cela a été fascinant de voir à quel point la base d’une recherche peut-être différente. Je comprends cette phrase et approuve sa justesse pour les arts plastiques mais je dirais qu’elle peut correspondre soit à la base de la recherche, soit à la finalité, soit aux deux peut-être ? Dans mon travail ce n’est pas l’élan premier mais quelque chose d’important. Cette phrase me plait beaucoup !

7. De l’inspiration à la création, quelles sont les étapes de votre travail ?

Caroline Denervaud : Toujours faire le vide d’abord, mettre le cerveau en veille. Le reste généralement suit ! J’ai besoin d’être seule. Je ne reviens jamais sur une peinture ou une vidéo, je travaille vite, dans l’instant. Si je geste est trop posé, j’arrête et recommence autre chose. J’aime que ce soit spontané.

8. Que pensez-vous du travail d’Helena Almeida dont l’oeuvre questionne le rapport entre corps et mouvement pour en faire une oeuvre d’art ?

Caroline Denervaud : J’ai beaucoup d’estime et de respect pour son travail. Le corps est une base, le mouvement me fascine dans sa richesse et sa simplicité d’expression… l’oeuvre d’Helena Almeida me touche. Je préfère d’ailleurs ses photographies et vidéos sans peintures. Il y a beaucoup de vulnérabilité et pour moi c’est très fort.

9. Avez-vous déjà songé à des performances mêlant art plastique, danse et percussions corporelles ?

Caroline Denervaud : Oui, on peut dire que dans mes vidéos on retrouve un peu tout ça. En public je ne l’ai jamais fait par contre. Je ne sais pas si cela me tenterait, on ne sait jamais!

10. Pratiquez-vous un instrument de musique ?

Caroline Denervaud : Malheureusement non.

11. Quels matériaux utilisez-vous ?

Caroline Denervaud : J’aime beaucoup faire mes mélanges. Actuellement je travaille à la caséine mais aussi à la cire. J’aime beaucoup l’encre aussi, parfois le pastel sec. Toujours sur papier !

12. Comment travaillez-vous la couleur ?

Caroline Denervaud : C’est difficile à dire. Comme la forme sans doute, c’est un équilibre. Là la phrase d’Anne Teresa de Keermaeker me serait utile !

13. Des projets à venir ?

Caroline Denervaud : Des décors pour un défilé, un salon et une exposition à Boston avant le printemps.

En savoir plus sur Caroline Denervaudwww.carolinedenervaud.com