Part 1

Why did you begin to study art? What made you strike out for art? What did you study at school?

When I was a child, I was already interested in drawing and painting. I had the chance to be able to work in the atelier of my father, constructing sculptures in wood, or modeling in earth etc. I remember the garden of my parents, full of painted sculptures that made sound with the wind, stone sculptures and so on. In the cellar, I was painting on an enormous canvas. Actually, then I decided to go to in a specific school to study art and then the Beaux-Arts school.
I quit school just before the big exam, and worked like hell to prepare some interviews in different art school in France. I was accepted in several of them, but chose the one located in Besançon, the city of my girlfriend. The problem was that I didn't pass the interview, so I convinced the director to give me the chance to enter just like this, on the phone, and he accepted. I understood two things from this experience: the power of words and my capability to use it. So I entered this small art school. In Besançon and worked a lot for 5 years but the school was not enough so I always had a personal atelier and was making works for the city, in the street, in theater and started to exhibit here and there. I experienced a lot of different things; I made some scenographies for contemporary music in theaters and created some settings for cultural events. Besides, I created a free postcard reseau, and opened a gallery next to my atelier, which is still running after 10 years. All kinds of experiences are still useful now. I was also designing furniture for companies and myself, already thinking about the ways to put them in society. All my production was already painted in different styles. I worked in all kinds of directions, from monochrome to "figuration libre",
At that time, I was searching and searching, interested in everything. I’m still like this in the way that I want my works to exit in all possible directions and that is what’s happening now. I create paintings for the visual arts, for the design world, and on architecture. I worked everywhere, from the street to museum, galleries, public or private spaces, specific commissions and so on. Boundaries do not really exist for me. Neither do classifications. And new generations of artists are working like this way. There will be a big change in the coming years about definitions. Exactly as Joseph Beuys says.
At school, I tried to concentrate on my experiences in all kinds of directions. I studied painting in a broad sense, from Lascaux till today, and understood that everything touched me somehow, the way humans are using paint is an enormous world.
The shock came with people like Kazimir Malevich(1878-1935), Marcel Duchamps(1887-1968), Joseph Beuys(1921-1986), Robert Ryman(1930-), Bertrand Lavier(1949-), the pop artists, Jackson Pollock(1912-1956), Gerard Gasiorowski(1930-1986) but also sculptors like Didier Vermeiren(1951-), Siah Armanjani(1931-), Etienne Bossut(1946-) and a lot of other people. I turned out works in the follow up of Support/Surface, a small movement in France. I was interested in improving everything about paint and painting. I had already started to have physical distance from it, and then after I had invented the [krut], and finished my studies with it.



Could you explain about [Krut]?

The [krut] was the end of my research about painting in the 20 century which
I started 7 years ago. I even have a painting when I was 15, using one [krut] on a painting! It was the logical consequence to the deconstruction of the painting: after using my feelings to paint, after asking questions about the physical aspect of the canvas, after making sculptures to paint, after putting [krut] on canvas, after leaving the canvas, after the use of the wooden frame, after "the 12 last paintings", I had only one thing, a piece of pure paint, a [krut], I started all kinds of experiences with it, exhibiting a bit with it, trying all kinds of things. I used it for several years.

I created this word, [krut], which doesn't exist except in my vocabulary. I had to invent a word for something that I invented; the coat of pure paint used as a material, as an object etc. At the start, some years ago, I wrote it, ‘croûtes’. In French, it can mean the coat on the top of the milk when you burn it or the coat that makes the blood when it dries, BUT it is also an expression about a bad painting, like a Sunday painting. It is also a reference to Gerard Gasiorowski, one of the best artists/painters from the 20th century to me, who is a Romanian artist based in France.

[krut] was the rich experience that I wanted to share, and still support by mail order catalogue. So you can find in this catalogue a resume of 7 years of production, which I selected. It is about painting, sculptures, languages, and historical references such as Rene Magritte (1898-1967), Klein, Opie, Robert Ryman, Marcel Duchamps, Pablo Picasso(1881-1973), Gerard Gasiorowski and a lot of people.


I had a chance to know your project, Urban Concern in Amsterdam. I felt close in our conversations, and I was hoping we could work together someday. I believe that artists themselves should think about why they make artworks, and their role in society as artists, and create the platform for representations. So, I was very excited when I encountered your projects and idea. Why did you decide not to produce new work as art pieces but to paint objects around you to restore daily life with colours? How do you see streets, buildings and objects around you?

When I entered the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, I discovered an international situation; things get new definitions and I understood that I could go further somehow. I could have chosen to continue all my life with [krut], but I decided to work on something more interesting to me: the garbage AND the paint that I’ve been doing so far. I did not want to specify myself only in a technical way with pure definitions about art. I had to change the rules and have my personal definitions. It was easy for me to stop creating new objects just by considering what was around me. It is a direct response to the industrialization of the 19th and 20th century and to mass production creating garbage, leftover etc. The Shakers, the UAM, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, everything from this period was impressive to me; these kinds of society projects as utopic items. I look at my object production as paintings in 3 dimensions, useful, and then of course, link with design appear. So now, I’m actually working in different fields, with different contexts and people not always concerned with the same ideologies, but I like it this way. Boundaries do not exist in my work and you’re free to look at it the way you want.
I defined myself as a realistic painter. The fact to be a realistic painter comes from the subjects I paint, which has a real function, a real existence. It is realistic also because of the choice I make to put my concerns in the public domain or you work with a specific population, like working in secondhand enterprises, for instance. You can reach political subjects and ideas about the way in which society is functioning.

Streets provide a lot of information about the society surrounding them. In St. Petersburg, there is almost nothing in the street. In Osaka, a lot of homeless people and bikes without locks! In New York, you can find amazing objects. In the Vatican, the only thing I found was is really symbolic. In the Netherlands, you find new objects in the street. I have more than 1000 objects collected from the streets collection Amsterdam; only things that are useful and sometimes even still with their original packaging.
I remember one shock I had when I was a little boy. It was in Morocco. I threw away a bottle in a public dustbin and when we left, a lot of children ran toward it, and took the bottle. This image is still in me, like it was only yesterday.
I’m sure they did something or transformed it; there are a lot of things to do with leftovers or garbage, and there is a worldwide consciousness about this.



Do you have some examples of artists that are interesting to you?

I put my own definitions of art or artist, for example, they are not so-called artists, but In Chile, there are some guys searching for solutions to collect the water from clouds in order to give water to people. The work of these people is just to find water. It took them 40 years to create nets that succeeded. I find this kind of thing extraordinary. Duchamps was saying that the context was making the art piece, I think it is the artist, who create sense of its surrounding. There are not many artists that I feel close to, but some people, like Lina bo Bardi, Gerrit Rietveld, and Donald Judd are really important to me.

I am not looking for names or reference that are anyway the same for everybody in the art world, I am curious about a lot of action, and a lot people do create senses for me. New definitions means also new approach and new ways of apprehending the world. So in broad sense, people which are transforming the world, taking position in a critical way, saying what they really think, these are the artists I am referring to.


Long Interview vol.3 Franck Bragigand archive
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text/Nov Amenomori