Stephan Balleux, Artist
2nd of June, 2020
How do you stay connected with your creative constituency these days ?
In a few emails I sent to friends from the art world I shared lockdown thoughts adding images of what I was currently doing in relation to the pandemic. I also published a few posts on Instagram.
I decided not to communicate excessively during lockdown. I don’t believe in sharing my internal personal journey, my doubts and my small victories on social media. I need some distance and I don’t like to show my emotions or actions on these platforms. Many galleries and institutions multiplied virtual exhibition tours and artist studio visits or online presentations. I followed almost none: my lockdown routine was linked to parenting as I have two young children. The time devoted to work and web surfing was drastically reduced.
Moreover, I like what happens on the internet when it is about sharing information but I don’t like it when marketing becomes too visible. It is obvious that big organisations have hired some staff to do their PR and that social media do well in time of pandemic but they make people with less means look amateurs.
What are the new forms of connectedness you are seeing emerging as a result of the confinement ?
I have been working since last September on a new website. It will be a dynamic communicating tool. I am planning to use it to show the work I have done over the past fifteen years. I also want to create sections where, like I a curator, I can establish links between the different parts of my work. I will also add texts that I have written. I rely heavily on this communicating tool that I have neglected these last years. I want to show and exhibit my art on the internet according to my own criteria, my own tempo… It will then be relayed in social media.
I also intend to invite more people to visit my studio to allow for direct contacts between them and my paintings. I don’t think this health crisis is going to change anything beyond the growing awareness that we can make do with what we have at home. I can see people becoming more resourceful. But my impression is that as soon as this crisis is over, we will go back to normal, equipped with a few more remote work tools.
What topics/people inspire you whilst in self-isolation ?
Because of this crisis, we have been forced to stay within the family unit – in my case it is a typical family with Dad, Mum and two children. The fact that we were together hugely influenced my work. To be constantly with my children, taking care of them more than usual, having time to enjoy these moments made me want to produce work with them, about them and through them. Opting for this orientation in my work has been on my mind for a long time but the current situation made me naturally follow this direction.
I do not have access to my studio anymore for logistical reasons so I designed a new, smaller one in one of the rooms of the house. The sizes of my pieces have shrunk and I am focusing on ‘poor’ forms of art : drawings on paper, watercolours, small oil on wood paintings. There are so many uncertainties about our future project that we have lost our bearings. But we have also been experimenting and I think it is a very fertile response. This is no time for self-assessment. It is time to let go and listen to what is coming to our minds without too much critical thinking. I must admit that what is coming to me pertains to the imaginary more than to a reflective approach. As for reading, I went back to authors I love such as Rebecca Solnitt or comic book writers like Ralf Koening who ferociously mocks the stereotypes ingrained in our societies. I also looked at legendary artists like Van Eyck and Giovani Bellini… a form of return to the sources.
Digital connectedness – via social media, videoconferencing, digital platforms- took a much more prominent position in communication strategies. how do you think this will affect the culture of consumerism in the future.
I believe that nothing will spare us from the subjection to the market law. Nothing.