“I think I am trying to paint like we write but I paint what we cannot express in writing”
“Je pense que j’essaie de peindre comme on écrit mais je peins ce qui ne s’écrit pas.”
Born in 1988 and graduated from Arson Villa in 2012, Quentin Derouet graduated with high distinction (félicitations) from the Jury and the price of City of Nice rewarding his magistral and minimal gesture: the trace, on a wall, of a crushed rose.
Between 2012 and 2014, Quentin organised two events in his career: the “Cirque Noir”, creating his own perfume called Intention and elaborating “La petite Théorie Mathématique des Espaces Poétiques. He is the curator of other artists’ exhibitions and do the scenography for other artists. He also anchors his work in the time and tend to bring everything he learnt through those experiences together within his own work and creations.
In 2014, he collaborated with Fabric Hyber at the elaboration of a new variety of rose where the only important characteristic is of to be able to leave the most beautiful trace when we crush it. He then starts to develop paintings with the most primitive trace, to the parietal painting and always constantly questioning the contemporary art. He then creates a rose plantation in the South of France and produce following the harvesting time.
He exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art of Saint-Etienne, au Museum of Modern Art of Nice, au Kunst Merano Art in Italy as well as the Villa Arson. His works is represented by three different galeries in Paris, Nice and Shanghai and his works has been in international fairs such as Shenzhen or Turin with duo show with Hans Bellmer. He is currently creating a publication with the Editions Dilecta in Paris in collaboration with the Foundation Thalie from Brussels and the writings of Boris Bergmann. He now works between his two studios in Paris and the Aveyron (South of France).
Your work is done with the buttons of fresh roses and its wood onto the canvas. How did you come to choose this technique?
Whilst I was a student, I was creating artworks by “destroying” exhibition spaces with drawings and writing made of flowers on the walls of the art centres in which I was invited.
Then in 2012, I realised a piece where I crushed a bunch of red roses onto a white wall which turned into a huge violet trace with on the floor, the leftover of the damaged bunch.
I got the first price for this piece from the price of Villa Arson.
Then in 2015, with the help of artist Fabric Hyber, the creator of the rose called Meilland, I created with hybridisation, a new variety of roses which had the specificity to make the most beautiful trace once crushed. With this project, I started realising drawings with this particular rose and then I then I ask myself how to paint (the colour, composition, trace, medium etc…) and I developed several series of paintings with this rose as an unique medium.
Once applied onto the canvas, I guess the roses dry. If so, does it happen that it dries too quickly for what you had in mind?
It depends on the technique I use. Sometimes, I dilute the pigments or I burn the rose to have blackness in it. Other times, I leave the flowers macerating in water to have a tan colour. I try to use all the pictural possibility that a simple rose can offer. Roses dry the way they do, I don’t look to have any control over it, at contrary, I prefer that they surprise me somehow.
When you apply the rose onto the canvas, do you creative instinctively the composition of it?
It depends on the series. For some, there are “rules” so it is not really instinctive even if the trace is always unique. For example, one of the series is to do a horizontal trace in the middle, in essence to crush the flower until the very end of the pigment within the petals is being used.
But for most of my series, my work is very instinctive, it really is the medium and technic that guide me. In my paintings, even they may seem very expressive, I try to fade away as much as possible and to leave the roses to say what they have to say. A rose, depending on its humidity will create a more or less dense trace and I try to have less control on it. Also, there is the idea of writing in my paintings but I guess it is more the actual flower that is writing something and I am just being the intermediary between the rose and the canvas.
I feel in your painting and by the simple and pure beauty of the rose, a lot of romance, poetry and softness… do you like poetry?
Of course. I write and read many from across many times and cultures. My first loves remain poets such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonin Artaud or Fernando Pessoa.
Did you choose the rose, a flower, in correlation with the beauty of nature, our environment and in some ways to show your respect and love towards all of this?
What I love in the rose it is her ambiguity. She is full of contradiction. She is soft and thorny, noble and popular, chic and kitsch, all at the same time.
She is natural and artificial. She can be the symbol of the resistant people but also of the fascists. We put her on a grave and also offer it on a date. She is the sponge of the Human feelings. She is so symbolically deep and used and reused that she ends up being meaningless in some ways. And, therefore, I like to try to say something with something that has nothing to say and that has nothing more to say. She is like a painting that is so tired of her own story.
Also, what is very important to me is that it is very cost effective. I have a rose plantation in the South of France where I go and collect my roses and I paint with it. I don’t have any brushes to clean, no products to buy or throw away. I only need a little bit of cotton canvas, some woods and few flowers to paint.
It is quite simple when you think about it the traces of something picked up from our Earth. There is a real envy from me that my way has as little environmental impact as possible but mostly there is an intellectual desire that the way I create remains simple.