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With his perpetually mischievous eye, Gérard Puvis is one of those multi-talented artists who uses his chosen medium to explore a different aesthetic each time. From the tin of old wine bottle capsules, he sculpts series of mischievous dancing characters. Although he is a painter first and foremost, he also draws everyday objects, creates bronze sculptures and, more recently, reinterprets photographs. Gérard Puvis graduated from the Paris École Supérieure des Beaux Arts in the seventies and tirelessly pursues his explorations with refreshing humour. His work has been rewarded by many prestigious institutions and exhibited in Europe, Japan and the United States. But it is from his Lyon studio, an uncluttered space filled with light, that he makes each object tell a very individual story. Travels, artistic experiences or presents from friends, all with a story that evokes the long road travelled. Meeting with a curious and surprising artist who doesn’t seem ready to stop yet.
The unstoppable work of Gérard Puvis is also revealed on his website.
Could you introduce yourself please, Gérard?
Having studied Fine Arts in Paris and Lyon, I created two specialist graphic design agencies for the pharmaceutical industry when I was 21. Eight years later, I’d had enough, I sold the businesses and applied to Casa de Velázquez in Madrid with paintings that I’d completed ten years earlier. I was one of the eight artists selected from more than a thousand applicants and flew off to the Spanish capital for two years, where an amazing studio was made available to me. There, I received many visits from gallery owners and people linked to the art world. I met Alain Blondel, the Paris gallery owner and Fred Lanzenberg from Brussels. You could say that I’m loyal because I worked with Galerie Blondel for more than 25 years, until it closed in 2014.
You have a career that’s rich in different projects, what are they?
I’ve participated in numerous FIACs or international fairs and exhibited in Japan, the United States and Europe. I created a fresco on a wall in Rue de Reuilly, Paris. I’ve also rubbed shoulders with the world of show business and worked with Lyon Opera House and the Pierre de Roubaix Theatre Then there are the “lead/tin” sculptures created from the neck labels of “grands crus” wine bottles.
How did you get the idea to use bottle capsules to make sculptures?
The first sculpture was made during a deadly boring society dinner in Paris, where I made a little ocean liner, around 4 cm long, from the remains of capsules lying around on the table, my neighbour (who was probably fascinated) commissioned a larger work for the Ledoyen restaurant. The snowball effect was as rapid as it was unexpected.
You work with great chefs on a regular basis, could you tell us a bit more about that?
I’m friends with many cooks – Bocuse, Ledoyen, Léon de Lyon, Pierre Orsi – they commission me and put aside the neck labels from grand cru bottles opened for their clients. Many famous viticulturists also commission me to make sculptures with their own neck labels. With the help of a printer friend, I decided to publish reproductions of these sculptures on paper. He then perfected a technique specially designed for this work. Kelham Vineyards in Napa Valley, California became interested in these playthings and opened a space dedicated to my work and has been selling sculptures and limited editions for more than 20 years. In the United States, these images have produced spin-off products, such as trays, plates, tiles, napkins, packaging…and other nonsense.
You’re starting a new exploration based on photographs, could you tell us about this project?
I recently started researching pencil portraits. They are self-portraits drawn from photos that have been screwed up, mistreated, and run under water to bring out the character and interiority of the chosen person.
How long have you been working here?
This studio has been operational for around five or six years. The furniture was picked up at boot sales, auctions and flea markets. In Brussels, Lyon and other places.
Which are your favourite objects or works here?
Everything was bought on a passing fancy. They have a story, but I could give them up and replace them without a second glance. Only the paintings have great importance, I’m attached to them and every day they offer me a chance to escape. Today, my favourites are: Jean Raine from the Cobra group, Armand Avril, Antonio Seguí, Bram Van Veld…
What inspires you?
You’ve had a long career as an artist, what advice would you give to young generations of entrepreneurs and designers who want to continually amaze and surprise with their work?
Not to be a slave to fashion, be sincere in their approach and not to try to surprise at any price.
Credits : Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily
Translation by TextMaster.