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AT VICTOR PUŠ-PERCHAUD'S STUDIO

Conversation with the artist, July 2023

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Mathilde Le Coz - In your paintings, we often find the motif of the mirror, a mirror sometimes without reflection which questions the very meaning of painting defined as “window open on the world”. This window, you turn it towards you the one who paints but also towards the person who looks at your painting - how did you come to this motif? ​

Victor Puš-Perchaud - It's a reason that came gradually, especially this year. It is first and foremost an intuitive process for making self-portraits. And then the mirror, in a composition, creates a cut-out, like a collage in reality. It allows you to add different temporalities within the same image. I use it as a pattern, like a cartoon box, where I can place a character, a body. It acts as a window but does not only reflect reality in a naturalistic way: it testifies to something of the order of the mysterious or the fabulous depending on the choices of representation. The mirrors that I paint take on a form of opacity. Mats, they gradually no longer refer to anything. This allows me to evoke a relationship with oneself, to show a distance vis-à-vis oneself to switch to something a little more self-fictitious. 

MLC - In your studio, you told me that your interiority was a starting point, a necessary exploration, a first step and that painting was an excellent medium to account for this inner experience. Can you explain to me why? 

VPP - Painting is very direct, there is instantaneity. These are materials that we touch, there is something regressive that I like. It records all gestures, all intentions, and all feelings. It is for this reason that I always try to leave room for the accidental, for the unforeseen. 

MLC - Next to the painting you write. You recently presented a collection of poems with your paintings during your fine arts degree. Would you say that painting is better able to express this interiority? 

VPP - With painting I try to create a pictorial language through relationships of shapes and colors. It's the same thing with poetry: I'm not looking for a rational meaning but rather for comparisons, images produced with very short sentences. In painting, I move away from words in their rationality to be as pictorial as possible, and to try to express something unspeakable. And the canvas, as a sensitive surface that records everything, allows me to express what accumulates in me. From the intimate I try to go towards the universal, to speak to others. 

MLC I would like to come back to this mirror but only formally, it allows you, like door frames, furniture frames or mise-en-abîme, to build and structure your pictorial space. What interests you in this fragmentation of space? 

VPP- The mirror allows me to play with a form of narration, it allows me to sequence my image, to create different temporalities, different shots. It's quite filmic - cutting is a process for scripting - but it's a process that is more refined, quieter, like downtime. There is a tension in these narratives, I try to bring in something fabulous and mysterious. It's a process that comes to me from comics, manga in particular - I wrote and directed them. 

 

MLC - Can you tell me about this manga influence?

 

VPP - I have a very strong relationship with drawing - it's important for me to draw the patterns of the everyday world, to refer to something, like a doorway for the viewer's gaze. One of the things that interests me in manga, beyond all the ingenious graphic solutions that are deployed there, is the initiatory, adolescent story, which questions existence, how to live. I'm thinking of the genre of nekketsus (Naruto, One Piece...) as well as Hayao Miyazaki or Tetsuya Toyoda. I often quote them in my paintings. I also greatly admire the filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami who, too, will create poetic images and raise questions about existence through his characters, with an educational impact. How to define yourself? This is another question that interests me: should we define ourselves by our origins or by the places where we live? I think we are mainly what we have experienced.

MLC - Two major themes emerge in your work, that of mirrors and interiors, but also that of gardens - can you tell me about the relationship between these two themes?

 

VPP - This stems from the questions I ask myself about the construction of identity, the quest for meaning. One of the answers that I try to show in painting is “to exist by taking care”. And the domesticated nature of a garden shows this “taking care of something” that Ryoji Kaji talks about in the Evangelion series. The garden is a peaceful place, linked to paradise. My graphic choices are at the service of the sensations that I want to convey with the figuration. The mirror is a process that interests me but I do not want to confine myself to my personal interiority either. I use myself in my narrations in the same way as a character. It is in this sense that my work has a self-fictional character. The idea of ​​auto-fiction is to use an autobiographical experience as raw material to produce a fiction. It is a way of constructing something that speaks of reality, about reality, of finding a form of meaning for it. And this narration is linked to the adolescent narrative (coming-of-age story), in which we find an inward progression, the quest for oneself. Warm colors allow me to translate this intensity. With painting, I try to show an interiority that lives, cares for and has an intimate relationship with the world and nature.

MLC - Can you explain to me how you proceed when you work?

 

VPP - I work from photographic notes and observational drawings. Sometimes, it happens that I only work from observational drawings. My photos are of poor quality in general and come from my smartphone. I like the trivial side that can be found in "lo-fi" photos of everyday life. I combine several of these photos by drawing, to find a composition that I like. I do not have a photorealistic approach where I would reproduce a photo for itself. The photo is a preparatory process - a note on the real - which allows me to have more signs at hand.

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