Valérian Goalec


“Does art necessarily have to generate forms?”

AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?

VG: I come from Bretagne in France, I spent about 9 years between 2011 and 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.Very early on, I was fascinated by the artistic world, at eighteen I started to orient my studies towards art, design and architecture. I was interested in design firstly, I made it my specialty at the Beaux-Arts in Rennes, France. During all my studies, I used to look at art as a way to have fun. It was at the end of the study that I took art very seriously and I abandoned design. Since 10 years now, I have concentrated mainly on the artistic world. During my years in Brussels, I was working as an assistant for Jean-Baptiste Bernadet and then for Gabriel Kuri. Today I live in Paris, at the Cité Internationale des Arts.


AT: When did it become serious?

VG: Since my arrival in Brussels, it has been like a new workspace. From both the creative point of view and from human encounters, Brussels has allowed me to flourish as well as all the people I met there.


AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?

VG: It’s difficult to name only one person; first of all these two artists, who I have assisted for several years, have allowed me to see the profession from the inside and to appreciate even more the will to work in this environment. There are also friends around me and my family.


AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?

VG: The approach to the work is often simple, because I tend to use everyday objects and forms. In my work I like to bring a different vision to the stuff around us; that is why it is often quite easy to recognize well-known elements from everyday life. Lately, I have been trying even more to make this accessible, also by asking the spectator to participate. For my personal production of the stand at ArtBrussels fair, the visitor had to activate different parts of the stand. For me, it is increasingly important to foster relationships with the public, it is one of the primordial questions in my practice today.

“12:15pm”, pencils, folding table, variable dimensions, 2020 (detail) | Installation view at Spazio ORR, Brescia.

AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?

VG: I would like to be able to allow visitors to see our daily life differently, with a new angle, which, in a way, allows to make the banal: intriguing, fun to see and beautiful.


AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?

VG: For a long time I have collected many different containers, vases, dishes, barrels etc. My workshop filled up fairly quickly. I worked a lot on concrete by combining these everyday forms to show only some of them. Recently, I have been trying to stop being forced to buy items, I have increasingly favored on-site work, or collaboration, by borrowing items from the place or from the curator. It is also a way for me to question the idea of ​​producing a work. Does art necessarily have to generate forms? I am talking about all modes of representation, from the exhibition flyer to the opening buffet. These are all elements I like to question.


AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

VG: As I work more and more in situ, I often need to know a maximum details about the place of the exhibition and the people who invite me. It is often a long dialogue that allows the production of works and ideas. I also spend a lot of time playing with the budget and the different possibilities of the space: if it is possible to change the light, the floor, etc.


AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

VG: Often it finds its place, but I must admit I sometimes find difficult to determine that a work is finished when it comes to several forms in the same space. The combinations could actually be never-ending. The law of the time often means that I decide to press pause, but I know there could be many other proposals. This is why, for the objects themselves, I set up a lot of “hidden” protocols that allow me to make arbitrary choices, like choices of dimensions. For certain sculptures, I use, for example, my own proportions to define the length, width and height.

“Trophy of my absence”, cardboard boxes, table cloth, potato crisps, variable dimensions, 2019. 
My, our, your
“My, your, our”, ink on blue back, edition: 1/5 + 1AP, 70×100 cm, 2017.

AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?

VG: From my routine, my travels, from stores and especially from books.


AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?

VG: Obviously, I don’t like to make a list because I will probably forget some. But I work a lot with image files, sorted by artists and other references. I think it is essential for an artist getting to know the work of colleagues.


AT: How important is the role of social media for you?

VG: Too important not to use it, alas it is also a big waste of time in my time when I don’t produce. I would like to be able to stay in the phone airplane mode as long as possible to stay focused on my research. I too often receive important messages and contacts via social networks, though… I would soon like to drop these formats for more freedom.

“For His desk”, sainted plexiglas, stainless, 2018 | Steel shelves dimensions: 15x169x24 cm.
“Used for a time”, retention tray, vases, water, 300x80x125 cm, 2018.

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?

VG: I am not qualified enough to answer this question, I believe that the system changes regularly anyway and is different from one gallery to another. Without a gallery I manage my system myself.


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?

VG: Recognition from other artists. Obviously there are critics and curators, galleries and institutions but I think that recognizing a colleague is also something very gratifying.


AT: What do you do besides art?

VG: I try to cook as best as possible for my friends.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?

VG: Exhibiting in institutions, selling my work in order to keep doing what I love; especially living close to my family.

Exhibition view of “Potentiality of Ten” at L21 Gallery, Mallorca, 2018.
Valérian Goalec (1986) is a French sculptor currently in residency at Cité Internationale de Paris (FR).

In his practice, Goalec uses existing forms that he borrows, modifies and brings to a different reading. The elements of his work can be understood by themselves or as a whole. The starting points for his abstract sculptures come from elements of everyday life, architecture, modulations, serial variations, units of measurement and relationship. The forms of his work are extracted from their context to allow each person to appropriate them and multiply them to obtain new rational forms.