Hello Baptiste, we’re delighted to have a chat about your background and your artistic practice.
Baptiste, could you tell us about yourself and your background?
I come from the suburbs of Paris. In 2014, I obtained a Master’s in Fine Arts from the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg. During my studies, I learned woodworking, ironworking, screenprinting, analog photography, bookworking and so on. It was a great journey throughout learning and experimentation. I wanted to fully develop my skills and so I did.
After graduating from art school, I applied for artist residencies abroad, especially in Asia. I wanted to discover new cultures. Traveling alone was also a way to better find myself. Actually, I ended up in different countries including in Kinshasa (RDC), in Palestine, in Shanghai and Korea. My trips abroad came to an end in 2019. During my artist residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, I started doing paper cutouts. And very quickly it became my main medium.
When did you start making art?
When I was a child, I used to draw, sculpt clay, play with wax, melt plastic and create different art installations. It was a sort of artistic awakening, and later on in high school, I chose to follow a path in the art world to become an artist. When I finally got into art school, I had a spacious studio and access to a lot of art supplies, so I was able to experiment many different things. And eventually, I started developing my artistic practice and my own technique.
What is the story behind your artworks?
There are many stories behind my artworks linked to the different mediums I used to work with. Let’s take my paper cutouts as an example. It’s a technique I’ve been working on even before my art studies. It comes from my graffiti practice. The stencil I used to paint with became the object of research and not a tool anymore. Perhaps, I should have been a surgeon, but I missed my vocation haha!
"My influences are linked to different periods in my art process."
A few years ago, you were granted a residency at the renowned Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai. Could you tell us more about this experience?
Oh, Shanghai was amazing! It was also my first time in China and in Asia. My eyes were sparkling all the time! This residency was great. There were a lot of artists with different backgrounds, practices and levels. I definitely keep great memories of this period of time. And it’s during this residency program that I really started focusing on making paper cuts.
Who are your biggest influences and how do they influence your practice?
My influences are linked to different periods in my art process. At the beginning, almost 10 years ago, I was attached to the Ukiyo-e movement (Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro.. ) but also to the industrial revolution during the 19th century in Europe (especially all the transportations : zeppelin, planes etc). Mostly because of the explosion of creativity in each country throughout the engineer aesthetic.
Later my thoughts became more refined, and I started reading a lot of books from François Cheng. This man helped me understand the relation between the artwork and the space in which it enters. In a way, it is how my paper cutouts became an installation because of the mutual dependence of the space and itself. By the way, I advise you to read his books. He is a monument of chinese-french literature.
Following this journey, I’ve been interested in Phillipe Descola books (Les natures en question) as well as Georges Campbell’s (The Hero with a Thousand Faces). This is my first step into the nature question after my work on the Asian way of thinking. Many other thoughts came with it, but long story short!
Finally, I want to speak about Marie Curie. This amazing woman gave me my willpower back and it kept me moving forward. She shows us that everything is possible. Which is important to keep in mind as an artist.
"New projects are coming, and in 10 years they will be fucking amazing."
If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
With power comes great responsibilities! (for the ones who know the reference haha). If I had all the money in the world, I would continue working on my art but with bigger and more detailed projects I guess. Perhaps more politically engaged. I am an idealist who believes in utopia. I might invest my money and time to work on something bigger like our survival. And god knows how we need to believe in utopia if we want to continue to face reality.
How do you imagine your art in 10 years?
Greyish, perhaps bald haha. More seriously, I hope to keep the same determination to fulfil what I have in mind. Life is a long journey and I will enjoy it the most I can. New projects are coming, and in 10 years they will be fucking amazing.
Thank you so much Baptiste <3
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Baptiste Desjardin, La feuille qui s'attache au présent