Interview: François Chevalier
Luca Curci talks with François Chevalier during VISIONS, third appointment of ANIMA MUNDI 2022, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
“I was born in 1986. I am French and I have been living in Switzerland for 12 years. Art in general has always had a prominent place in my life. I have been drawing, sculpting and playing music since my childhood. I have always had a passion for classical realist painting, especially the chiaroscuro style, and since 2013 I have been practicing realistic acrylic painting on canvas as an extra-professional activity. My paintings are inspired by photos taken during my travels around the world. My main aspirations can be summed up as follows: to capture a moment of life that has touched me and to convey more or less directly a message, a symbolism, which can sometimes lead to scenes that are part of the imagination. Most of the titles of my works are linked to the message that they transcribe. This message, this meaning of the work can be directly visible on it, or, and this is the particularity of my works, it is literally hidden. I use a UV paint that is not visible in natural light, which I finally apply to my canvas. The hidden meaning can be in written or pictorial form.”
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
François Chevalier – From a very young age, I have been imbued with a creative spirit. My creative inspirations have been expressed through drawing, painting, sculpture and music. I came to my current artistic practice – realistic or even hyper-realistic painting on canvas – when I was 25. Already very inspired by classical realist painting, it was at this time that I had the vision that the closer a creation is to reality, the more it releases an emotion for its public because it feels more connected given that we all bathe in reality. For this I started to take inspiration from photos taken during my travels and tried to paint them identically on canvas. Re-transcribing the reality of a photo onto a canvas – with my hands as the tool and my brain as the decoder – became my challenge. I have been practicing this art for about ten years now.
LC – What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
FC — I think I am certainly like many people driven by a passion. Painting is – above all – a way for me to escape, to temporarily leave the constraints of life to a project of creation, of self-expression. When I work on my painting, I often listen to different styles of music this certainly influences my way of putting the colours together.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
FC – Of course, in the end, art lives only through the interaction it creates between itself and its audience. So the public has a major role in art and can only enrich it with its proposals. Art is also a connection between its creator and the public who appreciates his work. Any suggestion from the public towards the artist can only influence him.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
FC – I think my realistic style has improved over the years. Little by little, I have also taken a certain amount of freedom in the re-transcription of reality, sometimes adding a touch of the imaginary which I try to include in a judicious way.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
FC – I have always been fascinated by classical realist painting, more particularly by the chiaroscuro style, such as Caravaggio or Georges de la Tour. My main aspirations can be summed up as follows: to capture a moment of life that has touched me and to convey more or less directly a message, a symbolism, which can sometimes lead to scenes that are part of the imagination. Most of the titles of my works are linked to the message that they transcribe. This message, this meaning of the work can be directly visible on it, or, and this is the particularity of my works, it is literally hidden. I use UV paint that is not visible in natural light, which I apply at the end of my canvas. The hidden meaning can be written or pictorial.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
FC – I feel that everyone has their own perception of art and it is difficult to completely agree on someone else’s overall vision of art. However, I like the idea of ITSLIQUID of comparing art dissemination and the ephemeral connections it creates, to an unpredictable liquid in constant motion seeping into every space.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
FC – I am presenting only one work, which is entitled “Rayon de vie”, “Ray of Life” in English. The instillation of life through a ray of light! It is not difficult to guess that this creation is full of symbolism. In this work, we see a mother-to-be. Her face is deliberately in shadow because I wanted her to represent all mothers who carry the gift of life. This gift is symbolized by the candle that the mother-to-be holds in her right hand, and as the title of the piece indicates, the ray of light coming from the candle becomes this vital influx that eventually falls on her round belly. The presence of a single source of light in a realistic nocturnal context, that creates strong contrasts between light and shadow, is reminiscent of Georges de la Tour’s work and, more generally, of Caravaggio, two great painters who have strongly influenced my work.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID Group can represent an opportunity for artists?
FC – Any digital platform for the dissemination of art like ITSLIQUID remains an opportunity for artists. Artistic competition has been fierce for years because art is globalized. It is necessary to know how to jump into the water and enter this great digital dance that allows one’s art to be disseminated throughout the world.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
FC – This is the first time I’ve participated in an event organised by ITSLIQUID, so I don’t have much feedback yet to formulate an honest opinion. I would say that for the moment, I am quite satisfied, especially by the location of the event, in Venice, a stronghold of Italian art, which I have always appreciated. I am very happy to be able to exhibit one of my paintings in this city.