by Iona Whittaker 爱安阿
translated by Liang Shuhan 梁舒涵
French artist Vincent Olinet (b. 1981) lives and works in Brussells. He holds a certain fascination for fairytale across different periods, coupled with an attraction to the imagination of French taste and trappings through objects like lipstick and cake. His work, which is often sculptural, re-presents such objects and their associated sensations, perhaps with new and darker undertones. “I Can’t Perform Miracles” was the artist’s first solo exhibition at FOST Gallery in Singapore, and ran from June 7 to July 28, 2013.
Iona Whittaker: Have you shown your work in Asia before?
Vincent Olinet: Yes, my work “Notre époque a la poésie qu’elle mérite” was exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale in 2010.
IW: How did you come to be exhibiting in Singapore?
VO:I recently met Stephanie Fong, the owner of FOST gallery. She took an interest in my work and invited me to show at FOST.
IW: For those who are not familiar with your practice, what would you say is the best way to approach or understand it?
VO: The vocabulary of my work is made up of popular images and stories we all share. They can be biblical, like Noah’s Ark, classic fairy tales or fables generated by the entertainment and glamor industry. From this milieu, I create stories through a personal filter using a poetic sensibility. The results are seductively constructed work juxtaposed with repulsion and destruction, and a large spread of other emotions.
IW: Do you find Singapore a fertile place, artistically?
VO:It’s great that Singapore is slowly building its contemporary art scene. The country has the capability and motivation to do it. I can feel the creative energy being generated here.
IW: Does this different content for your exhibition shed a different light on the works for you personally?
VO: A work itself says a lot of things, on different levels and to different people. The dialogues between the artworks create new meanings and bring some new twists to the ideas. I selected the three series of works: the Still-Lives, the Drums and the Lipsticks, shown at FOST gallery for their ability to interact together.
IW: How do these particular works reflect the motivations for your work?
VO: They show different aspects of my work. The Still-Lives “I Can’t Perform Miracles” are about the use of natural elements and their decay, but also its reference to art history. The Drums — “Rhythm is My Only Companion” — are about the auto-determination of an art piece when the sculpture wants you, the artist, to make it exist and play it. The Lipsticks “Rouges” were created with the fascination of the glamorous world that consumes our contemporary lives, but made in a rough and totemic way.
IW: Your work appears variously witty, direct, mimetic and poetic — how did you begin to be an artist?
VO: I always wanted to work in the creative field. As a kid, I wanted to be a movie director. When I was a teenager, I decided to be a comic artist. Later I realized that being an artist is the way to fulfill all these ambitions.
IW: What were your hopes for this particular show?
VO: This was my first solo show in Asia, and I hope that this will call for more, especially in the blooming Singaporean art scene.
IW: How do you feel the response has been? Were you able to imagine the audience here?
VO: I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the audience. Will they be expatriates? Young people? Singaporeans? I’m surprised at the interest taken by the media. I’ve answered a few interviews for magazines, TV…. It is a good way to reach out to the public. Art is not only for collectors; it is for everyone who wants to feel emotions, poetry….
IW: What are you working on now?
VO: I’m working on a major solo exhibition in my native town of Lyon, France. The space measures 1,500 square meters, and I have the liberty to present what I want—that’s a good way to unleash creativity! The formal French garden is something that is of great interest to me. I’m currently developing works on this theme.
IW: What are your hopes for the future?
VO: To stay true to myself and to always be able to create what I have in mind. And to travel!