Camille Blatrix, artist: 'At the Pompidou everyone was talking about me, and then three hours I was alone and crying'

Karen Wright meets the artist in his studio in southern Paris

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Camille Blatrix lives in southern Paris, in the 14th arrondissement, an area that once housed many artists but is quiet now, and slumbering in the heat of summer. An unwelcoming hall leads to a glorious greenhouse filled with light. This was previously the studio of Blatrix's painter father; when he split from his wife – when Blatrix was eight years old – he came to live here.

Blatrix would spend weekends and Wednesdays with his father and brother here. I shiver, saying it must have been cold, and he laughs: "Yes, we were in this tiny box upstairs, freezing, huddled together, listening to John Coltrane, while my father painted all night". I say the studio must carry a history and his answer is a charming shrug: "I am trying to make something of myself, not in the melancholy of my father".

When Blatrix finished studying at the École des Beaux-Arts he took up woodwork "to pay my bills". When a friend said: "You have an amazing studio and you don't make any work, while I am painting in my tiny bedroom..." Blatrix was semi-shocked into action. He had initially taken over the studio when his father left Paris and quit painting. "He told me, 'take it – it is really cheap and you can live in it'."

 

Blatrix was born in Paris in 1987, and won the prestigious Prix d'Entreprise Ricard in 2014. As part of the prize a work by the winner is purchased and presented to Paris's Centre Pompidou. "It is just a step in my life. I do not want to see it as an ending, just a start", says Blatrix. It was an exciting moment for any artist, but he tells me a terrible story about the opening night. He was standing outside afterwards and two men mugged him for his wallet. "At the Pompidou everyone was talking about me, and then three hours later it was raining and I was alone and crying in the street."

His next project is for the Biennial in Lyon, for which he is currently creating a plastic cash machine. He classifies it as one of his "emotional objects," like his talking mailbox. He had it fabricated elsewhere. "I did not want to be known as the artist who makes marquetry", he says, though we sit surrounded by the woodworking tools he used to work on the kitchen, bedroom and toilet off the studio. On a modest ideas wall above the desk at which he draws are pictures and slogans including a note: "Make a croque monsieur machine."

"I need a good relationship with the objects I make," says Blatrix. "I am looking for something; I do not know what."

'Camille Blatrix: No School' continues until 1 November at Mostyn, Llandudno, Wales (mostyn.org)

Comments