Artist of the Week: Olivier Kosta-Théfaine

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Olivier Kosta-Théfaine. I am an artist living in Paris, France.

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How has living in Paris affected your art practice? I never went to an art school, I’m a pure autodidact. I didn’t have a teacher or anyone to tell me anything or to share my thoughts. My art is intuitive and because I am a product of the Parisian suburbs. I was inspired by my environment. The city, my city, quickly became the main inspiration for my work, from graffiti on a wall to a flower growing in the concrete.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I’m working on my second solo exhibition for Jeanroch Dard Gallery that will take place in October 2013, and I am still working on a new little artist book called Flore de Compagnie that will be edited by Bunk editions in September.

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If you had one wish what would it be? Working more and more with institutions here in France, and more collaborations abroad!

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How did your interest in art begin? When I was a kid, I remember that I used to draw a lot, especially when I was at my Grandmother’s house every Wednesday. A few years ago, I found a strange sculpture I did when I was 10 at my Mum’s place, a kind of black and white headed cat done with terracotta. It was really beautiful but also really strange at the same time. In 1988 I did my first urban intervention. My first group exhibition took place in 1995, it was the first time that people invited me to show my work. Since then I never stopped working indoors and outdoors, experimenting, trying to develop my own language.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? I’m just an observer of my environment. I observe then I translate what I see into pieces that I show in artspaces. To make a long story short, I am really interested by these dirty elements from the city that most of the people hate, as traces of cheap vandalism for example, or these small details that people generally don’t see. I used to collect these elements in the goal to make “artpieces”. By expansion, the idea is to transform these negatives or invisibles elements into acceptable and aesthetics art pieces. It is all about irony and fun!

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What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Definitely the poetry and the fragility of the city.

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What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? It could be a half empty spray can, or a found object coming from the street. My work is not about technique, it is based on an observation of the landscape and its translation. I can produce classical garden with broken glasses bottles, or making a decorative ceiling with the smoke of a flame lighter. My work is simple, and it smells of the city.

How has your work developed within the past year? It has become more and more poetic and I think I’m not afraid to express my feelings anymore.

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If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? A cook ;-)

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