Can you remind us who you are and your artistic practice?
I would like to borrow a quote from Nisargadatta Maharaj to answer your question: “You don’t need to know what you are, you just need to know what you are not”. But if I have to describe my practice and my background, I would say that I am a human being who signs his different interventions under the pseudonym of RERO. I intervene mainly in the public space, both natural and urban, because my identity is composed of both and I try to balance it in my work, as in my life.
I also particularly like to divert different supports or contexts in order to better question them. I intervene in an almost systematic way, which has become over time my way of decoding the world and digesting it. This is done with the help of letters written in Verdana font that I cross out or connect afterwards to question the reading and create a polysemy of interpretations once the words are installed in situ.
What is your background, how did you start creating?
My first artistic act was through graffiti. There was too big a gap between the so-called “classical” art, which seemed inaccessible to me, and contemporary art, which I felt was too elitist. I had simply not studied their respective codes that would allow me to appreciate them. Graffiti offered me a more direct access, more frontal and thus allowed me to fill this gap and to express myself. And this without needing to know all its characteristics to get satisfaction from it.
It allowed me to set more affordable goals. Paradoxically, and in spite of its prohibition, it offered me a more spontaneous access door. The experience was enough for me to build my language and my identity. It is my first love and the one that gave birth to this desire to interact with reality, to take part in our world. Curiously, I had the feeling that it was necessary to transgress the current codes of art to be able to realize a creative act. It was as if the art classes given at school were out of step with my time, that the way works of art were presented to us was archaic and had little to do with my daily life. So naturally I started to practice graffiti in a very conventional way by reproducing the American imagery and style. The American dream, Alabama Monroe could tell you as much about its disillusionment. The more I did my graffiti, the more I felt like I was mimicking a New York era that no longer existed and that I never participated in. A kind of ghost train that I was trying to run behind. It was an illusion, but the energy that came out of this movement allowed me to have my first prelude in art and to give birth to this desire to interact with my environment and the real.
In your daily work as an artist, what inspires you? What is the trigger for the creation of a work?
I would simply say words. I use words because they resonate with everyone, you don’t have to be a student to be touched or repelled by them. They speak to everyone and everyone can interpret them as they wish, that’s also their limit and that’s what interests me by crossing them. I like to question them, they take on a whole new meaning in a particular context. I started to systematically cross out all my messages.
This black line, discreet at the beginning, because probably badly assumed, thickened with time, to become today my signature, my way of decoding the world in which I live, of better interpreting it. I had found my language, my way of deciphering the feelings I had about our time. To try to reveal the things that we do not see. This thick bar allows me above all to propose a polysemic work and not to confine the reading of this proposal in a single way. It allows me to ask a question to which I do not necessarily have the answer. It offers the passer-by or the visitor the right to ask the question. This negation can be interpreted in several ways. This erasure can underline the word following the example of Jean-Michel Basquiat: “I scratch the words so that we see them more. The fact that they are crossed out makes you want to read them.
It can signal a contradiction, an oxymoron, an idea that was true for me at one time, but which made its way, to finally turn out to be completely false, but that it was necessary to translate plastically in order to realize this error and to mark a rupture linked to this change. This line questions the notion of self-censorship. An idea that one thinks cannot be expressed in a particular context. It allows me to hide behind this barrier to express things that I probably wouldn’t have dared to express without it. It helps me to engage. This erasure also warns us against the poison of words in the manner of Joseph Kosuth or Ben: “Words should not be trusted”. This line symbolizes the limit not to be crossed but also the horizon…
Can you explain to us the way in which you build a work? What are the different stages of creation?
My intervention process may seem very “codified” or even protocol, but when one has found a way to express oneself and to externalize one’s questions about the world, one sticks to it, as I said, it is my way of digesting and questioning my time. On the other hand, the source or the essence which triggers my act can be very variable.
My act can be triggered by a particular context, a real or virtual exploration, the encounter of a support, the meeting of a person, a conversation in the public or private space, a sensation or even a simple word. Borders, like sources, are relatively porous in my mind and art is everywhere, especially where it is not expected. What links all my interventions, I would say that it is the question of detour and reappropriation. For example, it is difficult for me today to intervene on a white canvas produced intrinsically to receive a painting. My whole approach consists in diverting contexts, reusing objects and supports to offer them a new interpretation. This is why I intervene on old books, telephone shells, old newspapers, mailboxes and all types of supports such as wood, steel or fabric. I try to reappropriate an existing support and to question it through my intervention. To do this, I try to apply in my work, a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who says that perfection is reached, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.