Thomas Devaux


“There are always steps to go through in the art world”

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

TD: I am from the north of France, from Lille, although I have only lived there for a short time. For almost 20 years, I have lived and worked in Paris. I have always loved art, always created, I do the job I have always intended to do, to live by creating.


AT: When did it become serious?

TD: Eight years ago, the bar where I worked three days a week closed. I had the choice to either fully engage myself in art and try to make a living out of it or to do something else. I made the right choice, it has been eight years since then and I am now represented by several galleries in France and abroad.


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

TD: I have had the chance to meet many important people in my career, including gallery owners, Cédric, Damien, Bertrand, collectors, Laurent, Geoffroy, critics, Florian, Marion, people working in institutions, François, Anne, Didier, it is hard to name them all…


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

TD: I started by thinking in series, like a photographer usually does. Now I think more like a visual artist, with a project that encompasses several series at the same time. Photography rubs shoulders with at times mechanical installations. I work on the dialogue between these series, the way in which they respond to each other in their plasticity, in their form, in the use or not of colour, in their format. I like to play on the oppositions of style, to confront works that seem to have nothing in common. From the outset, I have been working on the notions of profane and sacred, with references to the history of religious art. My works are always quite troubled, one never really knows which technique is used, photography, drawing, painting.

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

TD: A sort of balance between empty and full, between form and idea.


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

TD: For a long time I was considered a photographer, now more as a visual artist, but the tool I prefer is undoubtedly the computer. I also love matter, paper, charcoal, metal, glass.


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

TD: I love to create, I love to get closer to what some people call the Flow, that state of utmost concentration where things appear to you more naturally. I often have a fairly clear idea of what I want to achieve ultimately, but what I like most is to be surprised in the end, which happens to me quite often in fact.


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

TD: I am often asked this question! I function 90% by instinct, I can not explain it very well, but I can easily recognize when I have to stop working on a work, there is a kind of obviousness.

Rayon 39, 160 x 130 cm, Pigment Print, 22K Gold Leaf
Rayon 9. 99, 160 x 120 cm, Pigment Print, 22K Gold Leaf

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

TD: From my observations of the world, from these media, from social networks, from my travels, from my readings, from the exhibitions I see and from the music that inspires me greatly.


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

TD: For the project “Cet Obscur Objet du Désir” (“This Obscure Object of Desire”) which deals with the world of consumption but also with the notion of transcendence, a project I have been working on for about 5 years and which includes 3 series, The Shoppers, Rayons and Totems, my influences can go from Lee Ufan, Rothko, Ron Mueck, Kubrick to David Lynch. I like their aesthetics, their approach to the medium and especially their artistic approach.


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

TD: I like to use the tools of my time and social networks are a great tool for an artist. Developing them is both a pleasure and a real work, and I am aware of the fact that it is a real job. But they are very powerful elements to disseminate one’ s work and make it known. For me, Instagram is now much more influential than my website, many collectors, galleries and curators discover me through these networks.

Totem 7.7, 160 x 14 cm, Dichroic Glass, Pigment Print, 22K Gold Leaf
Totem 7.7, 160 x 14 cm, Dichroic Glass, Pigment Print, 22K Gold Leaf

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

TD: It is a system that I have accepted and in which I feel quite comfortable. However, with now more than 10 years of serious activity, with exhibitions in French or foreign galleries, with fairs, museums, festivals, conferences, press, prizes, I realize the harshness of this system, in which you always have to reinvent yourself.


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?

TD: The hardest thing is that there are always steps to go through in the art world. At the beginning it is necessary to develop a serious and interesting work and then to make it known. Personally, I have won prizes, several galleries have quickly contacted me to represent me. And then you are expected to work on a second series and if it works on a third one. And then when you manage to keep the interest that people have for these new creations, you try to work with bigger galleries, to exhibit in larger, more beautiful places and participate in big fairs and finally enter in big collections. Then you are no longer an emerging artist, but it never gets easier, because people love new artists and their freshness! I am a kind of there, so I could not tell you the rest…this journey, is not a long quiet river, but it is fascinating to experience.


AT: What do you do besides art?

TD: Everyday I work on my creations, and the rest of the time I basically live like everyone else and take care of my daughter.


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

TD: To continue making this my profession, to continue exhibiting with passionate people, galleries, institutions, to continue to create.

Thomas Devaux (b. 1980) is a French visual artist currently living and working in Paris, France.

His work is part of prestigious private and public collections, such as the BNF, Louis Roederer, Huawei, De Galbert or the Collection des Musées d'Orléans. He won the Talent Grant in 2011. His work was then exhibited in numerous countries like South Korea, China, France, Belgium, USA, England, Holland, Russia and Hong Kong, Serbia, Azerbaijan…