Kévin Monot‘s (b. 1987) abstract paintings reveal a distinctive calligraphy and rhythmic curvilinear structure that characterise his visual language on canvas. In his equivocal stained paintings, the French artist navigates the lucidity of line and form with a dynamic touch. Through ruffled, forceful and even agitated brush work with short and sharp bursts of colour, Monot’s artistry reflects an intellectual interpretation of contemporary gestural abstraction. Mainly concentrated on polychromatic visualisations -despite his very recent body of work that relies on black and white hues and tones- his intuitive approach of colour manages to distinguish itself with an irregularly constructive arrangement; particularly, the darker grounds of his canvases build up strong fundamentals allowing the overlaying brush strokes to create remarkable polymorphisms on the top of the painting result.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Seemingly automatic gestures based on the principles of the action painting, the emerging artist’s fluid marks lead their vague way across the dominant grounds upon which they lay on. Unpredicted fragmented grounds, mingled colours and overlapping gestures indicate that none of the applied colours or elements, nor one of the painterly doodles of the composition, are able to rule over the other. Employing trompe-l’oeil techniques, Monot achieves to facilitate a dazzling mark making that offers various visually trickery experiences. Rendering undefined lines and forms, the Brest-based artist invites the viewer to an optical mind game, which acknowledges artistic processes associated to illusionary arrangements. Monot creates compositions by collaging painted abstract sketches on paper. These motifs function as basic material that the artist then incorporates in paint. Using acrylic materials, collages and ball pen on paper, the artist blurs the boundaries in the painting’s dimensionality and seeks to identify the creative space between abstraction and representation.
Considering the artist’s recent residency experience in London in Oli Epp’s studio, he seems to involve his painterly plans and ideas in a more black and white pallet accompanied by some yellowish details. On the canvas’ surface, Monot presents as if painterly abstract gestures emerge and grow strong and fast, whilst they are thoughtfully arranged and contrived. Monot prudently balances previous set of colourful layering with more monochrome and greyscale variations, therefore his new painting series add an alternative imagery to his creative style, along with some more sophisticated configurations in his creative record.
Monot has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions in France and Germany; recent solo exhibitions include the Residency show at the Koppel project hive, London (2018), and the Pour être une forme in galerie Gratadou-Intuiti, Paris (2017). Recent group exhibitions include the Novembre à Vitry 2017, galerie municipale Jean Collet, Paris (2017), the Meeting 3 in Lieu Commun, Toulouse (2017), and the YIA#10 galerie Gratadou-Intuiti, Basel (2017). Monot completed his bachelor and master studies in the Institut supérieur des arts de Toulouse (2010-2012) and also studied another master’s degree in the Academy of Fine Arts Mainz in 2014 (atelier Winfried Virnich).
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Kévin Monot: It is mainly based on monotype and collage. I developed a process that split the act of painting and allow me to work at my own rhythm. It works a bit like sampling in music. Out of a data base generated by the monotype prints, I define some prints as background. The other prints will provide me with lines, forms and fragments extracted by cut out. It’s always a game between controlled and uncontrolled elements and finding the balance.
AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
KM: Basic, labyrinthine, rhythm.
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
KM: There is so many of them and a lot are musicians. If I had to tell you about one, I would say Jacques Auberger. This guy is able to make music out of anything. I like this way of thinking and I love how he works and creates sound.
AV: How has been your very recent experience in your art residency in London?
KM: It was intensive and really interesting in terms of meeting. I got to know a lot of young and really good artists. After France and Germany, I discover there is another gaze on art and especially on painting. I also worked a lot in the studio during this residency, and I feel that it will bring several new things in my work. Now, I still keep on working on the body of work I started there and I have plenty of desires and ideas.
AV: Your imagery seems to be concentrated on the contemporary gestural abstraction; is it a an art genre that you wish to explore even further or do you feel more flexible with your art practice?
KM: I feel flexible.
AV: Creating a new painting can be a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
KM: Not really. I live in Brittany close to the shore and I love to be alone. I like to spend time with my work or out side. The people around me know that.
AV: How do you know when an artwork is finished?
KM: Because it tells me when.
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
KM: “All too human” at Tate Britain.
AV: What do you hope audiences will take from your work?
KM: I don’t think about it when I work. So, I have no idea.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
KM: She thinks that with colours it would be nicer.
AV: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
KM: A bit of both. I live and work in the same space, so it depends on the mood.
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
KM: I don’t like half…
AV: Which are your plans for the near future?
KM: There is a group show coming in November that I’m really exited about and a duo show with Thomas Auriol at the end of the year too. I also got a good scholarship from Brittany’s Art and Culture department. This will help me with a project I have been running since the beginning of 2018. There are also a few other projects/exhibitions for 2019 to be confirmed.
© All images are courtesy of the artist