In the studio with Camille Cottier, a French visual artist whose first body of works testify to research on the physical and possessive limits of the body (his own, that of others). We met with Camille to tell us more about growing up in Paris, her greatest influences, and what she hopes viewers can take from pictorial language.
When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?
I think I began to see myself as an artist quite early. I have always drawn but I think that when this passion became my daily life, my reflections, questioning, doubt and joy, at that moment I think I considered myself an artist.
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?
I was born in France in Paris but I grew up in the countryside, in the middle of the forest. I didn’t grow up with museums, cinema or exhibitions. I think my childhood, thanks to calm and boredom, sometimes made me develop an important inner world. I was shy, I observed a lot; I think there is a large part of the unconscious in painting, and the childhood in which we grew up necessarily plays an important role. Art was not the world in which I grew up, it was difficult for me or my parents to project themselves. I wanted to be an independent woman, but I was jumping into an unknown world.
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work?
After a preparatory art school in Paris, I joined the fine arts school of angers (in France) I started to develop personal work on the body, mine, that of others, but I was not completely fulfilled. After my diploma I met a painter whom I admired and I asked him if I could work for 3 months by his side during the summer. I think it was through this experience that I really wanted to become an artist. This meeting, this experience in reality, far from art schools, had a very important impact for me. the richness of an artist’s life, through the encounters that one can make, the projects that can arise, the work alone, the appointments at the studio, the exchanges with other artists or sometimes the void , the calm, the lack of inspiration. it’s a roller coaster, it’s exciting and dizzying at the same time, you have to be strong and determined. I think at that time I understood a lot of things. Then I found an inexpensive collective workshop that allowed me to work every day. One year later I was able to have my own studio, I started appointments as well as collective exhibitions. I also started doing collaborations with brands. and today I have been working for 3 years with the same gallery owner who represents me in Paris.
What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from?
I have been working on the same subject for 7 years, I call it “the good men”, a sort of character, guardian angels who evolve with me. They are a kind of family, serene and calm, they face us, look at us, there is something reassuring about them, they are together as a group. I don’t know who they really are, but they are my outlet, they comfort me and keep me company. But I don’t have a precise answer, I like the idea that everyone can tell their own story when faced with these characters.
Who & what are your greatest influences?
I think I am influenced by my emotions. by anything that cannot be seen. whether it’s the joys or the sorrows, my painting has something instinctive about it. My daily life or what happens in the world has an impact on my painting. My characters can also disappear in colorful and abstract forms, or appear in a more figurative from, seeming to carry a weight.
An unexpected source of inspiration?
What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?
I like the idea that the spectator can appropriate a painting. just like a movie or a song. whether personally affected or not. The only idea that my work can cause an emotion is a kind of accomplishment. I have never painted to please. I paint because I need it, it’s my language.. a pictorial language. I feel privileged to be able to share my paintings.
What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved?
I think that many moments in life have had an impact on my work. Unconsciously it evolves permanently. when you paint every day the evolution is daily. I never do research before starting a painting. My work is quite instinctive. as much in the format, the choice of colors, the compositions; of course the exhibitions allow you to take a step back from your work, and to move forward, to make other choices. collaborations also allow you to get out of a certain work habit and can have an interesting impact. But I think that especially the rigor in the work makes the painting evolve. My paintings have evolved, changed over the years. Without realizing it at the time my subject appeared in different forms. more or less abstract, more or less colored according to periods of life.
What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?
I need to be alone in my studio, and I prefer the morning.
Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?
Lovers in the Garden is a painting quite different from the others. there is no perspective, this embracing couple could be standing or lying down. The decor is abstract even if it is a garden according to the title. There is a kind of fusion that emanates from this couple. They seem protected by a red halo. This painting represents a deep peace, nothing seems to be able to reach these lovers. The color green represents hope and red passion, love. I think it’s what we need in priority today.
Something in the future you hope to explore?
I would like to have a painting experience away from home. Like going away for a few months in a residency, create through a different culture, and find out how it would have an impact on my work.