Interview Antoine Claes

Antoine Claes ”En Chantier”

How did you decide to become an artist, was it a conscious decision?

I studied art in cegep, but like many other artist, I felt I would not be able to make a living with my work. Slowly, I started working with photography. This medium enabled me to discover light, volumes and the environment surrounding me.

Were there people who influenced you in your entourage to pursue your career as an artist?

My classmates were my biggest influence. When I was just starting, I perceived the art market as something exclusive, something I could not be a part of, at least not easily. I still had a career in design in the back of my mind but I was good with my hands and did not want to do something too mathematic. Hazard brought me to sign a contract as a mural artist, painting commercial murals across Canada. Each morning, I started my day with a brush in my hand. This brought me to discover painting because I had the obligation of production.

Why did you choose to work with paint?

Paint is noble, in my opinion. Photography is the source for the eye, and the abstract is too intellectual for what I wanted to create. Painting enables me to focus on the raw substance.

What is your formal technique?

My starting point is photography, which enables me to research composition and subject matter. This process also enables me to bridge reality and the work I undertake in my studio. The brush on the other hand is the medium with which I can create interesting traces or evidence of the creation process. I always try to be conscious of my technique, which is central to the evolution of my creative process and challenge me to overcome new and interesting difficulties.

Why did you choose an architectural subject?

When I was walking in the industrial quarter of Toronto one day, the architecture I discovered came like a true revelation. There was an infinite source of line compositions, of light and materials. The correlation between composition in architecture and painting became favorable for pictorial exploration. Until this day, every composition that is erected, whether a construction site or a structure from another time occupies a central place in my work.

Did you narrow the theme in your paintings for the exhibition to a particular theme?

The theme is the construction site or CHANTIER, it is about the process of construction or deconstruction of the architecture of a city. My objective is to document the history of architecture. It is the research of poetry within the reality of our industrial society.  It is the process of taking conscience of the architecture of a city and the issues that arise from its metamorphosis. I am trying to undertake a rupture with construction, I am trying to find out about lost spaces and those in becoming. It is by traveling through obscure spaces of our world that I can find a source of intriguing subjects. For example, construction sites are ones that demonstrate the human folly of always wanting to build even higher. Architecture represents our civilisation, it is a very concrete aspect of human life, it involves being conscientious of the environment that surrounds us.

What are your objectives or your expectations for the exhibit?

Ideally an artist always wants to reach the broadest public. The objective is more so the diffusion of the image rather that the image that pleases, my aim is to share my reflections on architecture as well as my questioning of the relationship between art and the reality of our contemporary period. I would like to express that I am in a period of intense creation, I am starting to understand to a greater degree the material with which I work and I am gaining confidence in matter of style. I also want to provoke a dialogue with the artists whose work is in relation to my own.

Does your work concentrate itself rather on visual rendering or do you want to provoke an emotion on behalf of the spectator?

There is certainly a concern with the esthetical part of the creation, like all artistic work. There is also a complexity on behalf of the role of the history of architecture in the human imagination. Architecture involves us all, because we all participate in it. The canvas is meant to project a familiar universe but at the same time it is a space in becoming, in constant change because of the lighting which contributes to giving it an overall romantic tone.