25 March 2013

INTERVIEW: SAMUEL FRANCOIS

Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton - 01 Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton - 02 Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton - 03
All images: Samuel Francois "The Joy of Man" (01.03-06.04.2013), Courtesy Rod Barton Gallery, London

Glossy gold, cheesy soft porn and survival blankets: The French 1977-born artist Samuel Francois answered questions that I had about his current solo show "The Joy of Man" at Rod Barton in London and tells my about a "certain idea of eroticism".

Anna-Lena Werner: In your current show "The Joy of Man" at Rod Barton in London you exhibit a number of collages. How did you come up with the exhibition's title?
Samuel Francois: Last year, Justin Morin invited me to participate in an exhibition, where we had to propose a piece that needed to be connected to a work by the artist Bobbi Woods. Woods used a poster of "Emanuelle" - a French erotic movie - and the subtitle of this movie was “The Joys of Woman”. 

Anna: The collages consist of cheesy lighters with prints of naked women, embedded in folded and shiny survival blankets. What made you choose this material combination?
Samuel: I had the lighters in a box in my studio and I was anyway trying to find out what I could do with them. I didn’t really choose the material combination - things happened in an accidental way.

Anna: Where did you get the lighters from?
Samuel: A DIY store called “Hela”. It's a german store and one of my favourite places to loose my time and to come up with ideas.

Anna: Why are survival blankets so interesting to you?
Samuel: They are like false gold. Heat after a marathon, a jogger in a foil blanket. Heat for a person who lives outside, like a lighter allows to contact people in the street, asking 'Have you got a light?' The material is alive - the folds in the frame change according to the pressure.

Anna: How important is material and the symbolic value of material?
Samuel: Without the symbolic value of material, the piece wouldn't exist. For you or for me, it does not evoke the same thing. The girls on the lighters are the kind of image that gives a smile to men and women - it’s not vulgar. It’s the expression of a certain idea of eroticism.

Anna: Your works are very clean and aesthetic. In other shows, your art seems even more minimalist...
Samuel: ...When I started exhibiting, I used too many materials - things were often vague, because there were too many things involved. I realised that I had to get to the point, by using material that adapts to the comment I wish to make in the best possible way.

Anna: The gallery statement says, that you examine "popular stereotypical representations" - is the gender-topic of any importance to you? 
Samuel: The 'the gender topic' isn’t really the main subject of my work. It's rather about the seduction and the representation of a certain idea of eroticism. The show talks about the discovery of eroticism from a child's perspective, rather than about sex. I saw the first pictures of naked women in my father's garage, who had these posters and calendars on the wall. It’s this image, which I try to restore through the collages. Memories, trying to catch up with the present.

Anna: The exhibition's flyer shows musical notes - what song is it?
Samuel: It's Bach - Cantata, BWV 147, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Anna: Whats next on your agenda?
Samuel: I am working on some new pieces for Art Brussels, where I will be exhibited with Ethan Cook in the booth of Jeanroch Dard. In the summer I have an exhibition in a museum in the east of France, where I’m going to mix my works with their historic collection. The show will have a catalogue, which I am preparing. Besides that, I am participating in a couple of group shows and I work on different projects with BunkEdition, a book for Olivier Kosta-Théfaine and another one for Jean-Baptiste Bernadet.


Samuel François
1st March - 6th April, 2013

One Paget Street 
London EC1V 7PA
Opening Hours: Thursday - Saturday, 12 - 18h 


Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton - 04 Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton - 05 Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton - 06 Flyer_ Samuel Francois - Joy of man - Rod Barton

All images: Samuel Francois "The Joy of Man" (01.03-06.04.2013), Courtesy Rod Barton Gallery, London

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