As an ode to nature, Julien Colombier’s works are a stroll in a dreamlike and flamboyant world, the settings of surrealistic dreams in which we love getting lost. Julien is a self-taught artist who built his personality far from traditional art schools, and who gleefully mixes the influences he grew up with: urban culture, graphic design, advertising and comic strips. He has always been a painter, and keeps collaborating with great people and evolving to the top. Chanel, Bulgari, and Diptyque love his difference. For them, every support is a new challenge. Far from an exclusively naturalist vision, Julien uses the floral pattern as a graphic element whose infinite repetition takes on its full meaning, playing with textures and volumes for an astonishing and almost palpable result. Add to this an impressive vision of colour. A contrasted and explosive result, where everything seems to have stopped for a moment. Ready to interfere with real life. His work with his partner Audrey, an artist and set designer, in the same studio since recently, takes one step forward towards stage creation of a global universe. Julien Colombier, the artist to follow.
Julien, what led you to paint?
I have always painted, since kindergarten – like everyone actually. Since then, I’ve never stopped. My mom has a great role in it, among other things, since she was a painter and I always had this universe around me. She used to take me to exhibitions (Matisse and others) that left a mark on me. Then, when I was supposed to choose what I would do, becoming a painter was obvious to me.
Why such a vegetal world?
I come from an urban world, with hip hop influences, and my relief valve was to create gardens and green elements. The goal was to have a support for painting, to play with forms and colours. It was also a way to avoid the self-portrait, a kind of work I do naturally. I had to work on a lot of animal forms, such as octopuses and jellyfishes, to get out of this! Jungle is also great as a format for diverse graphic experiments, but much more poetic. Since then, I’ve seen some of them and I realise I’m less and less on the naturalist and literal side and I can work these forms as patterns. That is to say by forgetting the realistic side of it, by transforming them as geometrical patterns.
How has your style evolved?
At the beginning, I was more influenced by the street art movement. I created a lot more characters, with a comic spirit, bubbles, etc. A lot of animals as well. But actually, I’m a lot better working in a studio on canvases rather than on walls. It has no longer been only my bread and butter since my training in textile design. I was then able to dedicate myself to my personal work while working on cinema settings. This was the period when I adopted this style on black backgrounds. I can stay and look at a white infinity for 6 hours and, suddenly, it happens! Everything inspires me. I can have a mental block on the forms of donuts, clouds and even plants… Every graphic thing you can see in the streets. Music as well, probably more because of the rhythm. Sometimes I’m careful when it comes to the painting I like, because it’s very easy to only copy.
What do you use to paint?
Pastel chalk sticks and acrylic paint. I like this very meticulous result (actually sometimes it’s even too much) of the chalk sticks and the more muddled side of the acrylic. I usually prepare my backgrounds by painting them with black paint with a roller.
Which projects or collaborations left a mark on you?
Paola, my daughter: she is a huge life project! We take her everywhere with us, like in Japan, where we were last month. One thing leading to another, we meet people, and we have been very lucky until now. In all our projects, there are a true human dimension, a mix of personalities and fascinating work. I met two Japan brothers, The Inoue Brothers, who wanted to launch a project around ceramics. Their idea evolved and we added to it an exhibition, “Style Libre”, in Tokyo. Half of it was based on a work in progress, a big black wall on which I came to paint every day. If I had to talk about a collaboration that matters to me, I’d talk about the collaboration with Diptyque, for last year’s Christmas collection. It was fascinating, the team was very involved in the project, there were a lot of discussions but in a hyper constructive atmosphere. We have worked together for a year and the result is very completed, an end product I’m proud of. Audrey Guimard, my partner, and I are starting to launch more and more projects together. She has a real stage view that mixes perfectly with my work. The last work we did together was an exhibition in the Villa Noailles.
Since there is a great depth in his painting, we made a set with a sort of garden, with a 3D support, where there were interactions with nature, living things and forms flying into space! It’s a rather surrealistic work. Now we are going to work on volumes, by offering a global universe and playing with filled and empty spaces.
What are your projects to come?
Carpets with the French brand Pinton. We are going to start with two pieces and a tapestry.
Julien and I are going to keep developing our projects and trips. We really want to go to Mexico, probably to have a residence there! In parallel, I start my group of designers, set designers and photographers.
At the beginning, I was more influenced by the street art movement. But actually, I’m a lot better working in a studio on canvases rather than on walls.
Credits : Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily