Interview: Antoine Cordet

Antoine Cordet - Intelligentzia Silence Hurray Intelligentzia Silence Hurray (2016)

Exploring the idea of disconnecting from society and “observing the circus”, Dash Majesty talks with Paris-based painter Antoine Cordet, who shares with us his creative process and personal journey to forging an identity as an artist.

Dash Majesty: Hello, Antoine. Tell us about yourself.

Antoine Cordet: So my name’s Antoine Cordet. I’m a French painter and I live and work in Paris. I think I said too much, no?

DM: No, that was perfect. Possibly the best opener we’ve ever had. How long have you been creating art professionally?

AC: Five years ago I decided to make a living through painting. For two years I painted every day, which allowed me to improve my technique and figure out what I really want to be painting. After that, my work began to be shared on the internet via articles and social media. Finally, in 2014, a gallery from Germany, Galerie Flash, asked to represent me. I feel lucky to have somebody who believes in my work – to give it value and to create connections with collectors. It’s definitely a gift.

DM: Do you plan your pieces before you start to paint, or are you a little more spontaneous?

AC: When I start a new piece, I have at least some idea of what I’m going to do. Sometimes the result is exactly what I expected, but sometimes I change my mind during the process and try new things. I let myself be guided by the evolution of the painting, which largely depends on if I think my ideas are working or not. When they don’t work, it can make me angry – doing things fuelled by anger, or on impulse, can sometimes raise the level of a painting in a matter of minutes. Although sometimes this doesn’t work at all, so I destroy the canvas and start again.

I would say that is the biggest project of my life. Paint. And I know it will be that way until my death.

DM: The majority of your work seems to focus on humans in a meditative if not slightly docile state – why is this?

AC: Yes, it can be said that my subjects are depicted as passive and resigned. Why? Because they recognise that the world can sometimes be a very uncool place to live in. They recognise that human beings can be pathetic, unable of understanding. You could say that the people I paint have decided to “observe the circus” – they don’t want to participate, they stay quiet. That sounds pretty pessimistic, but this is a real constatation. Unless you cut yourself off from the world, you have to accept that you are a part of it. You should enjoy life by doing what truly makes you happy.

DM: Are there any materials which you prefer to use?

AC: In the past I used acrylic on linen a lot, but for a while I have painted with acrylic and oil. Sometimes I even use tea or red wine. It’s important to me to pay close attention to the quality of the canvas and the wood of the chassis too.

Antoine Cordet - The Same Name for Different Things
The Same Name for Different Things (2017) – Acrylic on canvas

DM: The Same Name for Different Things is particularly intriguing – could you tell us a little about this piece?

AC: The painting features a friend of mine, Louise. She lives in Mexico, so when she came to Paris for a few days I made sure to create some pieces using her as the subject. I have painted her 3 times and consider her my best model. She has this certain quality in her posture and face that I like and enjoy showing through my work. I bought the shirt she is wearing a few months before. When I see clothes which are interesting, I buy them, knowing that I will most likely use them for future pieces. This painting will be exhibited at my next solo show, which starts on Thursday 22nd June at Galerie Flash in Munich.

DM: You appear to use a similar colour palette across most of your work. May we ask why this is?

AC: With time, I have reduced my colour palette. Too much information, so to speak, can detract from the subject, although this does ultimately depend on how an idea is executed. For me, using a similar colour palette creates a sense of identity, a style that’s easily recognisable. If you come to my studio you will see that there are not many materials.

DM: Are there any other artists who you particularly admire?

AC: Yes, for sure. Classic painters, young painters – there are a lot of talents who catch my attention, which is great because I love to watch what other artists are able to do – it’s inspiring and stimulating. They give me courage when I doubt myself, especially on the days when painting feels like climbing a huge mountain.

Antoine Cordet - Vote for an Older Queen
Vote for an Older Queen (2016) – Acrylic on canvas

DM: What’s the story behind Vote for an Older Queen?

AC: This is inspired by a photo that I saw online. I found it interesting, so I painted it, changing certain elements during the process – for example I hid the expression of the figure to give it more of an enigmatic feel. The subject was a prominent feature of the original photograph, which presented me with an opportunity to distort reality. This is one of the first little formats I did, which is currently on display at the Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami.

DM: Which is your least favourite part of the artistic process?

AC: The beginning. I always feel a little bit anxious when starting a new piece. I ask myself questions: “Is this a good choice?”, “How will it turn out?” etc. Although, when I get the sense that things are coming together, I naturally start to feel a bit better. Painting eyes makes me nervous too, because they’re a very important feature. For a while now, after receiving advice from another painter, I have tried to be more relaxed. I figure that the job has to be done with quality, whether I feel stressed out or not, so it’s better to at least try and be peaceful.

DM: Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re especially enthusiastic to share?

AC: I have just finished working on my next solo show, which, as mentioned, will be exhibited at Galerie Flash in Munich. For now, I will continue to paint. I would say that is the biggest project of my life. Paint. And I know it will be that way until my death. We will see…

Upcoming exhibition date(s):

June/July 2017, solo show at Galerie Flash – Munich, Germany.

Let Antoine know what you’re having for breakfast via Facebook. Tag Antoine in photos of your breakfast on Instagram. Convince Antoine to paint a brooding still life of your breakfast by contacting him directly through his website.