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DSCENE Exclusive Interview With Artist DAVID DOUARD

Editor Katarina Djoric sits down for an interview with French artist David Douard.

David Douard, O’Ti’Lulaby, exhibition view, Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, Paris, France, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, 2020.

DAVID DOUARD talks to Editor KATARINA DJORIC about his move to the outskirts of Paris, the importance of his studio space, as well as the unusual choice of materials for his artwork. 

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Read the interview after the jump:

David Douard, O’Ti’Lulaby, exhibition view, Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, Paris, France, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, 2020.

You were born in Perpignan, and you came to live in Paris. What do you like about Paris and what made you stay here? Yes, I come from Perpignan, but I ended up studying fine arts in Paris. It’s a contradictory city – there’s so much going on, though it feels everything still remains to be done.

Your studio is located in Aubervilliers, where you also live. Why did you choose to live and work on the outskirts of Paris? As soon as I got here I wanted to live on the outskirts, and particularly in Aubervilliers, in the North – as a place to start because it was cheaper, but really because things are going on here that you wouldn’t see in Paris, though they contribute to the energy of the city. It’s like living on the margins; I find it very inspiring.

I’m convinced that art develops into a form of language, which, through time, conveys a kind of message.

How often do you go to the city center and why? Does constant toing and froing affect your work and life? Aubervilliers is a banlieue stigmatized by the media, but it is a place I love. It’s just as valuable for me to go to Paris then, to encourage people to come to Aubervilliers – so that we can progressively transgress preconceived ideas about the Parisian suburbs.

David Douard, O’Ti’Lulaby, exhibition view, Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, Paris, France, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, 2020.

Tell me about your studio. It’s a very important space for me – and I realize just how lucky I am to even have access to a studio to create work for the shows. It’s essential to my equilibrium; it allows me to be alone, away from everything. It’s where I rationalize my place in the world.

How did you begin working as an artist? Was it a dream, or did it simply happen? As a kid and a teenager, I had no ambition at all. And I must admit I kept a rather passive and adolescent-like attitude as an artist. Everything happened quite naturally, and frankly, I couldn’t even explain how it happened.

Your artwork is often made out of unusual objects and materials. How do you start conceiving new work? It’s always unpredictable – I don’t follow a strict logic. I would say things start being built when a material meets a thought.

David Douard, O’Ti’Lulaby, exhibition view, Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, Paris, France, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, 2020.

What is the message you want to tell with your work? I wouldn’t speak of a message as such. However, I’m convinced that art develops into a form of language, which, through time, conveys a kind of message.

Do you think that online representation transforms the way people think and produce artwork? Do you ever think about it when working on a new piece? I belong to a generation of artists that evolved with the internet. It has to be part of our practice. But I also know that this same generation thinks a lot about the materiality of digital content, as part of sculptural work.

Do you think online exhibitions can ever replace the physical ones? Not for me, no. And on the contrary, I think it’s more interesting to bring back the digital to something physical.

What do you think is missing in the art world? I don’t know what’s missing in the art world – but I like to think that there is always something missing, so I am constantly inventing something new.

Parisians have long suffered from the weight of history, with the countless -isms that were born or made famous there like Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Dadaism, Impressionism. Do you ever feel like you have to fight that cliché representation of a Parisian artist? I don’t think this period is about the categorization of artists or identities anymore. I don’t feel like I have to fight these categorizations, though I’m aware that being a French or a European artist means a form of dominant visibility when compared to other scenes.

David Douard, O’Ti’Lulaby, exhibition view, Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, Paris, France, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, 2020.

What is your view of the Parisian art scene today? What’s interesting about the Parisian scene is that it remains quite blurry and budding. It might be interesting to think of a more global, less centralized energy. With the dissemination of images, networks are being woven well beyond precise physical locations.

The future is always created with fragments of the past. Which artist from the past inspires you? The artists who inspired me the most were the Japanese Fluxus artists, such as Tetsumi Kudo, as well as the Californian Mike Kelly.

I think it’s important to live in the present; the world has constantly been in mutation, and each mutation pertains to logic – there is no fatality.

What are you working on right now? Right now I’m working on a monograph, as well as on a show for the Rodeo gallery in London.

Are you pessimistic about the direction the world is heading in? Not at all. I think it’s important to live in the present; the world has constantly been in mutation, and each mutation pertains to logic – there is no fatality.

David Douard, O’Ti’Lulaby, exhibition view, Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, Paris, France, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo. Frac Île-de-France — Le Plateau, 2020.

And what about the art world post-corona? I think art and the art world are the best placed to accept and compose with such crises. But only time will tell.

How have the past few months been for you? Very productive. I’ve pursued my work, and I even think that my daily art practice has swallowed the difficulties of the current context, turning them into inspiration.

What would you have done if not art? Something that wouldn’t have been productive at all or perceived as work – so probably nothing, but also many things at once.

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