Benoît Platéus


“The hardest part of working as an artist is not being up to what is surprising to you”

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

BP: I was born in Liège in Belgium. Since I was a child, I have always spent my days drawing, and I have never stopped. It’s my way of being in the world. I wanted to do comics and in my early teens it gradually turned into other things.


AT: When did it become serious?

BP: It was obvious to me very early on. Then around 13, I managed to convince my parents to let me study art and that opened me.


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

BP: Yes, there are a lot. It’s really like movie credits in the cinema, where we can count how many people are with you and made it possible. Jacqueline Mesmaeker and Ann Veronica Janssen; the two artists for whom I worked as an assistant right after my graduation. Laurent Jacob, Eva Wittocx, Bart De Baere and Dirk Snauwaert who, among other things, offered me my first exhibitions. Jean-Baptiste Bernadet who invited me to accompany him to several artist residencies in New York and Los Angeles. François Curlet who initiated decisive meetings. Finally, the conversations and support of the first hour: Aline Bouvy, Devrim Bayar, Anne Pontégnie and Virginie Devillez among others.


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

BP: The first approach is often intuitive, I am “worked up” by something that escapes me. Then I dive in. I feel like my practice is a practice of accident, which consists of opening the field of possibilities, condensing multiple things in it, even contradictory.

«Algues, tatouages et autres percolateurs» exhibition view | Meeseen De Clercq Gallery, Brussels, 2020 | ph. Philippe De Gobert

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

BP: I try to produce transient states that allow all possibilities. I like that things escape categorization, it gives them more presence, strength, it shows their uniqueness.


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

BP: It is often the project that defines the choice of technique. It has happened to me before that I had to use techniques with which I had no affinity and which a priori did not please me at all, but which were the most interesting in that context. If I only had to pick one, it would be any tool I can draw with.


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

BP: When I work, I don’t want to know where I’m going otherwise it wouldn’t be of interest, it would be repeating a recipe. There is of course an intuition, more or less strong and which sometimes can even be like a vision. The idea of an accident is important to me, something like an event that is not foreseen in the work process. I like it when things to come to me unexpectedly. I try to get the work itself to take me off limits. Imperfections and accidents are perhaps the places through which a work becomes alive and autonomous.

The reckless one, 2020, 200 x 150 cm, Oil and paper on canvas
Stompeln, 2020, 200 x 150 cm, Oil on canvas

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

BP: When you feel like it has slipped away from you. Usually after a few days or a week it’s pretty clear, but there are no rules. Sometimes it happens so quickly that you only realize it when you see pictures of the steps of the work in progress and then it’s too late, you’ve let it pass.


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

BP: It could be something you’ve read, something you’ve seen on the street. Often the more “empty” I am, the more “inspired” I am, in the sense that it allows me to leave room for something to happen. It is also the simple desire to work and from there something appears, as Tristan Tzara says: “Thought is made in the mouth”.


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

BP: Yes there are many. The novels of Philip K. Dick, because they speak of a reality which is constantly changing, which becomes more complex as it unfolds in different directions. The books also question the perception of this reality, the experience one can have in certain extreme circumstances. The films of Jean-François Stevenin. These are films that escape their history by style. Everything is alive in his films: the objects, the situations, the weather and of course the landscapes. He’s able to film all of these elements as characters. His camera is never in front of what he’s filming but among what is filmed. Everything that you thought was taken for granted strikes you as unexpected.

The open minded one, 2020, 200 x 150 cm, Oil and paper on canvas
Athule, 2020, 200 x 150 cm, Oil on canvas

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?

BP: The hardest part is not being up to what is surprising to you. The most rewarding is that your work has its own existence and life outside of you.


AT: What do you do besides art?

BP: Biking, reading, walking for hours. Recently I took up sport shooting, it’s a practice that I had forgotten a little, but which suits me well.


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

BP: To be surprised.

«Algues, tatouages et autres percolateurs» exhibition view | Meeseen De Clercq Gallery, Brussels, 2020 | ph. Philippe De Gobert
Benoît Platéus (b. 1972) is a Belgian visual artist currently living and working in Brussels. 

In his work he investigates and plays with the spaces and relationships between mediums, exploring abstraction in form and content. A member of the generation that witnessed the digital revolution and the explosion of the image, Platéus fully embraces the creative possibilities of analogue and digital technologies in order to wrestle the question of the original, which he deforms, saturates, disfigures, dazzles, enlarges, erases or reverses.