ALEXANDRE PÉPIN - FILM

2020

 

The RAD HOURANI foundation is proud to present a window into the world of Alexandre Pépin through a narration by the artist and a reflection on Art and the creative process.


This short film directed by Rad Hourani himself was launched in his "carte blanche" at the 38TH EDITION OF LE FIFA film festival on art.

 

 

 

SOME THOUGHTS BY ALEXANDRE PÉPIN

ON INSPIRATION AND STILL LIFE 

The pictorial genre that has impacted me the most is that of still life and also of the vanity. Vanitas is a genre characterized by the idea of death’s presence in work of art depicting the futility of objects or any means of possession. So through the vanity, the artist is always seeking to present objects as useless in the bigger scheme of the time continuum. Many contemporary artists still allude to this subject within their work, and I think it’s very interesting to realize that it has been a popular genre for centuries, and it can still be relevant today, as the fundamental problem tied to of being alive and human will probably always remain the same at its core. 

 

The awareness of being alive and impermanent, and trying to extract, grasp or experience the beauty that surrounds us is at the roots of what it means to be a painter, in my opinion.  What moves me about painting, on a very fundamental level, is that it is a door through which to connect to our own humanity looking at generations of transient humans that looked at the world and found inspiration, engagement and emotional response in it. 

 

As it seems to be the genre that most directly addressed that vision, I would say that Vanitas are really the main focus for me as an artist. In my work, we can observe the key points of said genre, like skulls but also little moments stemming from still-lifes, transformed into different textures and materials to capture the idea of impermanence.

 

  
ON LIGHT AND ABSTRACTION 

Usually, when starting a new project, I like to choose from objects I have encountered either in my everyday life and/or from nature. I then try to extract their essence through abstraction. For me, abstraction is a very interesting territory to visit. If I’m looking at a glass vase and the light passing through it, it’s not the vase that is interesting to me, it is how the light reacts with that microenvironment that is capsuled within the said vase. I think that with abstraction, it is easier for me to isolate these little moments, within a sea of little moments. And it’s not just the vase, or the light; it’s the idea of translating the essential within lots of little moments. The abstraction lets met grab a hold of all of that. 

 

ON POETRY 

For me the workings of painting really resemble that of a poem. A word will have a symbolic impact, or a weight, and there is also its context and how it’s used, how we perform it when we pronounce it and how we perform it in our heads when we read it. For me, poetry vibrates in the same way that of the elements of a canvas. Painting has the subject which acts as the object of the phrase, there is the context around that object, and then there is the physical treatment of the subject, so the color, the form, and the light that will caress it in the end. One day the artist or the viewer takes the words seen for what they are and the other day they mean something completely different to them. I think that in paintings there are strengths that can’t be found in a poem and vice-versa. There is the idea of abstraction present in both art and poetry, but not in the same way. I think that they complete each other in a very interesting way and that’s why I like to look through them both for inspiration. By evoking abstraction, I would like to say that I am more interested in painting and poetry that choose to be less prescriptive to end on a note of openness.

 

ON CONSUMERISM 

I think that vanities show accurately what is at the heart of an era’s consumerism mindset. For example, the 17th century Netherland’s vanities would show oranges next to gold, meat, glass and silverwares, and elements that would depict what was sought after at that time. Richness of materials and textures would be present.  What’s interesting about looking at contemporary Vanitas is to realize that, even though our environments are now completely different, very little has changed in our desires for objects. We are still attracted for the same things and seek the same shininess, with little changes, of course. Since I am of my time, I’m interested in different textures, plastic, chrome, things that convey lots of shine. These elements weren’t there in exact the same way before but depict the same sentiments in my opinion. 

 

ON CAPITALISM 

For me, the capitalist system acts as a kind of constraint, forcing people in a fast pace race, avoiding life which moves to a whole different rhythm. People need to stop and start looking at things in a contemplative way. It’s important to dedicate a part of your day to things and actions that have no commercial value. For me this system manages our everyday life, and that’s why I love art, it’s where we get a little room to breathe, and we can liberate ourselves from the corset. The goal is to lead a more meditative life and to do things that can’t be measured with efficiency. 

I’m interested in objects’ seduction potential. I think that the system we live in is governed by seduction. Whether it’s in the store windows, in ads, it’s what catches the eye, and I think that us artists can afford to use some of these cues. We can use the same tricks to redirect attention to subjects and values that are disregarded by the system. 

 

ON PURPOSE 

For me the artist’s ultimate role is finding the purpose of human existence for one-self and conveying it to others through art. For me, it’s a celebration of life and finding beauty in every day life and trying to communicate it. I think we have to be careful about the system we find ourselves in, and create art that can travel through time and still be relevant beyond systems in place.

 

ON PROCESS OF CREATION 

I like to get up early, leave my place early. I like to take as much time as I can to get to my studio. I like to source inspiration directly from my morning walks and take as many detours as possible. When I get to the studio, I take about half the day working on different sculptures, mockups in clay, plaster, basically any sculpting materials that I can lay my hand on.  This sculpting ultimately leads to a 2D render so I like to keep that in mind when I’m shaping the mockups. For the second part of my day, I start painting said sculptures on my canvas. Organizing them in a cohesive way. The second day will be almost the same as the first one, and so on, until I finish the work. Then I know if it conveys a bit of what I am trying to grasp about life. Sometime it does, and sometimes it needs to be discarded... 

I think that in order to be an artist, life has to overwhelm you. In my case, art is a catalyst to that overflow, to that feeling that life is too strange. It’s cathartic.

 

ON RAD HOURANI 
 

I find the idea that genre doesn’t exist, or that it is an unnecessary construct, to be very interesting. Rad Hourani’s vision, focusing on neutrality, was very appealing to me because I’m always looking for a certain neutrality within my work, either through the colors, treatment or the materials and subjects depicted. I like paintings that exposes human vulnerability, and also our strengths, but I can’t stand art that drifts away in gender stereotypes. So I think that the gallery and I share a similar vision in that sense.

 

 

ALEXANDRE PÉPIN PHOTOGRAPHED BY KATHY VERVILLE - WEARING RAD HOURANI UNISEX CLASSIC COLLECTION - EDITOR CHARLOTTE LAVALLÉE

© RADHOURANI