“It is those traces of time that I see that inspire me the most: when the paint crackles, the iron curtains are rusting, and posters are torned apart”
AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?
CM: I come from France, I currently live and work in Paris. My attraction for painting really started with graffiti, a little over a decade ago. I immediately liked the freedom to paint on different supports and especially on a large scale. How the movement of the body will impact the line, make it vibrate. The notion of “gesture” is very important in this practice and still plays a key role in my current work. It also helped to educate my eye in the balance of the composition and the choice of colors or materials.
AT: When did it become serious?
CM: I don’t recall a particular action or event that made me conscious it was becoming a thing, everything seemed natural. My desire to paint was leading, I had no specific goals, nor professional, but expressing myself. Off course for a while I had to share my time between steady jobs and my practice, but I feel very lucky today that I can fully concentrate on my painting.
AT: Are there any person that have been significant in your progression as an artist?
CM: I think that two persons were quite essential in my progression as an artist. The first person is a friend who back in high school introduced me to the culture and practice of graffiti, it was one of the first triggers, I became aware of a really strong attraction for painting. I met the second person during my studies in graphic design, we shared a similar sensitivity and energy. We became friends and started a collaborative project of mural paintings that lasted several years. By meeting them I realized that what really fulfilled me was to paint.
Untitled (2020), Rust, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 146×114 cm
AT: What’s your first approach to the work? Could you describe your practice?
CM: There are no preparatory sketches, I prioritize spontaneity and choose to face the blank support. What interests me in this approach is not knowing where I take my canvas, the freedom of the unknown. My reflexions are done directly on the final support. I like to start on canvas / sculpture and let myself guided by spontaneity. The gesture, impulsive, causes errors, erasures, recoveries. All those steps will constitute my in fine pieces. The process of creation is quite simple, I use raw cotton cloth that absorbs the plaster when I spread it. Therefor I need a
rather liquid plaster that I come to pour on the canvas laid on the ground, then I use a spatula to lay out the material. I really appreciate this step, it requires to let yourself go and inducts a very physical approach with the support. When the
plaster is dry the work of the color intervenes, I apply the first layer of color with a spatula and intentionally let appear random surfaces of plaster and canvas. This defines the base of my composition. Recently, I started working with rust. I use rusty plates to dye the canvas directly. This process allows me to approach the material differently and establish a continuity with my plaster work. I intend to develop this process in the coming months. I always seek to explore more materials and possibilities.
AT: What do you want to reach with your work?
CM: I do not try to reach a specific point or a goal in my career, I only and always try to reach the balance in my compositions and to express myself through them. Also I do not seek to pass any particular messages through my paintings. I like that people could interpret the pieces as they wish, according to their visions, their moods. For me, these works represent moments of life, I create them spontaneously and with sincerity. I try to put forward this sincerity above all, to me the painting must speak of itself, it should tell its own story.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
CM: I mainly use fairly standard tools, brushes of all kinds of sizes, cotton cloth for my canvases, plaster and a wire mesh as support for my sculptures. Since quite recently I have been using a lot the spatula. I like the different effects you can get with it, from the way it spreads color to how it scan alterate the plaster on my canvas – to be able to scrape, break, damage it – which expresses well how I want to treat the surface. It was the missing tool in my evolution.
AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?
CM: As mentioned earlier, my work is really based on spontaneity. Not knowing what the exact result would be gives me the energy to paint and the ability to feel free in my work process. To be able to produce I have to feel good, to disconnect to let go when I am in the studio. It’s not about forcing myself.
Untitled (2020), Rust and acrylic on canvas, 190×150 cm
Untitled (2020), Plaster and acrylic on canvas, 195×150 cm
AT: How do you understand when a work is finished?
CM: It is quite difficult to explain, it is something very personal. When a canvas is finished, I feel it, it makes sense. I often need time, to step back to determine if a painting is finished or not. I often leave them aside and come back few days or weeks afterwards.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
CM: To me the practice of graffiti has also taught me on how to look at the city and its different surfaces. I like to observe around me when I walk the street, how time acts and intervenes on it. It is those traces of time that I see that inspire me the most : when the paint crackles, the iron curtains are rusting, and posters are torned apart. It feeds my repertoire of textures, colors and involuntary compositions.
AT: There are any artists who influenced your works? Why?
CM: The spectrum of my artistic inspirations is quite wide but I particularly like painters who are part of the second generation of the abstract expressionist movement such as Robert Motherwell, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler or Clifford Still. The Cobra and Surface Supports movements are also important to me.
AT: How important is for you the role of social media?
CM: Social networks obviously play a very important part in the art world today. Everyone can share their work, galleries and collectors are active there too. It allowed me to show my work, to be discovered and connected with the people I work with today, so I can say it had a major role for me. However I would say that the negative counterpart with applications such as Instagram is the overabundance of images and informations that the user is facing. To me it is important to keep a certain distance with these tools to avoid a visual saturation.
Moment Clé – 1 and 2 (2020), Plaster and acrylic on canvas, 146×114 cm each
AT: What’s your opinion about the contemporary art system nowadays from your point of view as an artist?
CM: A lot of things are happening with internet these days and everything can goes pretty fast. Even though I know I take part in the art market, I feel disconnected from it since I only really focus on my painting, and it suits me very well this way.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
CM: The biggest challenge for me as an artist, is constantly questioning my work since It brings doubts. They can be very frightening to me but controlling them and turning them into a strength helps me to evolve. The greatest reward is freedom.
AT: What do you do outside of art?
CM: I like to go to concerts and exhibitions, playing music, inspiring but rather normal hobbies.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
CM: I wish to enjoy this freedom and paint as long as possible.
Clemént Mancini (b. 1988) is a French visual artist currently living and working in Paris, France. "Mancini's work echoes a modernist conception of the work which considers the space of painting as an uninterrupted plastic surface that we look at as such and not through him. This creates the effect of a 'pure visuality', of a complete pictorial ensemble that has nothing to hide but what it offers, almost served on a platter. His painting is in fact autonomous, it rejects all mimicry and lets his craftsmanship be seen like a mason with his tools" (Elora Weill-Engerer).