Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Nathan Samuel Gauthier

 Paris, France



You’re taking on several fields of visual art - illustration, typography, photography … Which came first? And does that shape your work today?

Ever since I was a young boy, illustration has never left me. It remains inseparable from my work. I always start a project by drawing an outline by hand - regardless of whether it is for a photo project, a layout, or, like often these days, the realization of a mask.

And which is occupying the most currently?  

The field that occupies me most of the time is typography. I earn my daily life as a graphic designer, but I try, day by day, to integrate the field of art to which I aspire.

What is the idea behind the masks? How did this project start?

The big idea behind the masks was the question of identity,  which has been preoccupying me for a long time. My first mask collection was about identity. I deliberately made no holes for the eyes and the mouth, to show with derision, how sometimes identity can be hard to bear. In the second collection of masks the question of identity is approached through a work on ritual. Rituals exist in all societies, from the most primitive to the most complex, and this seems interesting to me. I feel that rituals are the cement and foundation of social structure, and they facilitate or ensure the transition from reality to the supernatural or spiritual reality. The five rituals that I approach have the same goal, which is to guide individuals from one social state to another by creating or presenting moments which disrupt their daily routines.

If you would choose a mask that linked your own present with your past, what would it look like?

It would look like the Spartacus mask. The story behind it was to reveal the gap between rituals (past) and science (future), childhood to adulthood. The Spartacus mask connects these two worlds and these two times. It projects us into a future where rites and science will not be contradictory.

How important was it to you to work with different fabrics and textures while creating the masks? 

It was important for me to find out what will be the best materials to illustrate my point. For example, for the Pan Piper, which addresses the painful history of Gypsies, I used straw, which is the raw material of their crafts. I combined it with plastic to symbolize the stifling feeling that we can feel when we are banished by society. Before the opera, The Rite of Spring was a Russian ritual. For this mask I used fur, which, I think, can be considered one of the most representative tissues of the populations of this region of the world...

Was it difficult to capture the final art pieces on photographs?

The pictures have been made with the invaluable assistance of Jean Louis Bloch Lainé...  There weren't so many technical problems that would have raised issues, also because  we simply didn't have too many, but the message(s) I wanted to put convey with these photos at times made it more challenging: Have the masks to be worn by models, as one might see them in a magazine? Or should I portray them in the simplest photo possible?... I think that the pictures of my masks have a timeless posture, disconnected from the current trends of fashion.

What do you find most intriguing about typography?

For me, a font has its own mood and spirit. You can give a word a very formal, an old-fashioned or an exuberant spirit by simply changing the typography. Then it is very important to know how to go about choosing the font, in order to be sure that it reflects the mood that you want to show depending on the context. Typography is both a very extensive and subtle job at the same time.

Please tell us more about this art piece. 

This art piece was done during my first year studying Fine Arts. It is tightly connected to my grandfather, to his history and the history of my family, deeply marked by the deportation during the WWII. At that time, the suitcase belonged to my grandfather. I simply covered it with fur that evokes the image of hair tufts. I think I needed to express something related to my identity, which to me was and is something difficult to digest, in order to exorcize this past.

Do you ever have to put ideas on hold, afraid that you might forget about them while having to work on and finish other projects?

We are all doing lists to establish priorities! Unfortunately, artistic profession is not very lucrative and I am working as a graphic designer to earn my living. When I am working on moodboards or when I am doing research for a customer, it happens that I find elements, which could be interesting for me and could enrich my artistic job. I then put them aside until I’ll use these elements to deepen my work.

What do you think could be the most encouraging thing to say to a struggling artist?

That's something I could say to myself! Go on believing in this job, follow your own way and leave aside those who try to divert you from it. I think it is a very hard job, with a lot of competition. It's important that you learn not to push things, to follow desires and more than anything, and have fun doing this job. Otherwise, it is not worthwhile.

Your favourite dish right now? 

The couscous and meatballs my mother prepares!

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