Julien des Monstiers


“I am more interested on

«how to paint» than «what to paint»”

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

JDM: I used to live in Limoges, and I moved to Paris when I was 12. Nobody in my family is an artist so my choice was totally intuitive. I was a child who used to draw all the time at the back of the classroom. I first thought I would be a comics drawer because I knew nothing about Art. I could early understand this was the only thing I was interested on.


AT: When did it become serious?

JDM: When I was 19, I entered les Beaux Arts de Paris. Then, I chose a studio and started painting at school. I felt it was the beginning of something that would last long.


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

JDM: All the artists I have loved and still love were very important to me. My main teacher/ artist, Jean Michel Alberola, had a peculiar influence on me. His art vision was so new to me that I could say it was a kind of matrice I still work with.


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

JDM: First of all it is a work. I mean that is something you have to practice all the time. The more you work (I don’t mean produce) the more you are able to easily use your own vocabulary. I am more interested on «how to paint» than «what to paint». That is why some of my works look different from each other. I like to have a technical discipline when I work, the paradox is that it brings freedom at the studio. I use many recipes I created. Then when I have understood something I can change those recipes so that I could find other ways. For some years now, I have been using a transfer technique to paint abstract or figurative pattern on canvas. I first start to create a base on the surface and, in a second moment, I paint the subject on a huge table I built before. Finally, I transfer the painted image on the canvas. Only fews parts are done with brushes directly on the surface. There are different processes and moments during the whole preparation.

“Earth after the fall of men”, oil on canvas, 244×366 cm, 2018.

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

JDM: I like to create tools by my own. I also use classic materials such as small and large brushes. I work only with oil paints.


AT: Do you leave your work open to interpretation? Or do you think the viewer should engage with your work in a specific way? 

JDM: Except for some special works I could qualify as symbolic, most of the time there is no interpretation. I like to see my work as an holistic pattern. I mean that you can appreciate each paintings for their qualities but also see the connections and the meaning of all the costellation.


AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?

JDM: As I told you I really like freedom, the idea I could paint whatever I want and change everything whenever I feel. That is why I paint figures I create, sometimes from the past, or abstraction. When I’m working on abstract paintings I just let the things come to me, intuitively, without thinking too much because painting has its own reason. On the other hand, when I start working on figurative images I first make research in books or the internet, and then I paint it with a balance between mastery and mistakes. I learned not to be too focused on the results.


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

JDM: Because my process is like making recipes (such as cooking in a certain way). When it is cooked it is finished.

“Sans titre”, oil on canvas, 210×150 cm, 2018.
“Tapis”, oil on canvas, 250×190 cm, 2016 | Collection N&N, Nantes, France.

AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from? Do you find inspiration outside or it’s all inside you?

JDM: Everything such as style, intuition or taste comes from me. Regarding the rest, it is related to readings, images on the internet, books etc. There is, of course, the relationship I have with other artists, dead or alive.


AT: Do you think art can be learned or it is something innate?

JDM: I think it comes from a certain personal point of view. And, when you’re a child someone told you you are good at making things with your two hands and then you start working on it harder than everybody else, so you become better at it. At Art school you learn techniques and the importance of having an intellectual relation with other artists.


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

JDM: There are no artists in my family so I started to focus on art history by my own, with no hierarchy. Every artists I love are important to me; I can feel the connection between artists without thinking about space or time, we are all linked.


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

JDM: I use social media to show my works. Nobody can deny that. It is a very easy way to connect artists with the art world. It does not replace museums or galleries but it brings facilities to exist without them.

“Dino I”, oil on canvas, 210×160 cm, 2019.
“La Danse”, oil on canvas, 180×140 cm , 2018.

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

JDM: This question is linked to the last one. Because of social media and dematerialization of Economy everything goes fast. This is the exact opposite of the time you need to create. In a certain way this is exciting because you can really feel that noways creation is resistance. You have to be your own system without being caught in the world’s constant flow. And if your question is more about the Art Market, I don’t really care to be honest, it has nothing to do with Art.


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?

JDM: When you are an artist you are free. To keep this freedom to be strong, work hard and have a hight conscience of your own limits. I don’t mean working hard such as in business, but working hard being a pirate, someone who keeps doing things nobody cares about. Feeling satisfied, even for ten minutes, in front of the painting you have just done is the best reward.


AT: What do you do besides art?

JDM: I used to work for living but now I spend all my time working at the studio. I love surfing since I was a child: I am pretty sure it has something to do with Art.


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

JDM: Still having the freedom to paint. I hope I will be still excited and curious about Art.

Exhibition view of “Maison Sarcophage Allumettes”, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, 2018.
(photo portrait: credit Salim Santa Lucia)

Julien des Monstiers (1983) is a French painter currently living and working between Faye la Vineuse and Paris.

To Julien des Monstiers, each painting constitutes a whole, the different styles of which can be understood in their entirety, that ultimately gives them meaning. A holistic painting that cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts and that eludes any pre-established definition. From borrowed shapes and gestures, with no hierarchy, to the medium’s great stories but also to the history of its motifs, that of hunting scenes, floral decors or tapestry. A work painted on canvas or on wood, on the floor or on a wall, depending on its needs, in a constant back-and-forth motion.