Stéphane Calais

Nathalie Boudet

Bernard Goy

Talks with Stéphane Calais

tIn :Stéphane Calais. Gardens for people ! (& art for us ?), Abbaye de Maubuisson, Editions Filigranes, 2005.
You are responding to the Cistercian rigour of Maubuisson with installations that you describe as "cheap exoticism." Is this a critical position, an ironic reading of the site?
For me "exoticism" and "cheap" are words that evoke something second-hand - a displacement of value, in fact. And so I really liked the idea of sticking them together. It refers us back to a situation of value, a position in history and geography, and seems at home in the Abbaye de Maubuisson - this renovated complex which is no longer religious but the property of an emanation of the Republic, not the Church.
Visitors may be surprised by the multiplicity of styles and materials, the different scales and powerful colours. This heterogeneity that is part of your work blurs our coordinates. Is the idea here to further the mixing of fiction and abstraction, to avoid any overly linear narrative?
The "multiplicity of styles" is a deliberate choice. It means that I can get different points of view, different positions to see from. For me, this multiplicity also corresponds to the different levels of the real, which is the only way I have of touching on it. But things aren't really heterogeneous: there are links, the pieces fit together and tend more to evoke an ensemble covering different states of the real and, of course, their interpretation. This does in effect mean that I can avoid linearity.
Your installations are based on references both universal and personal (dedications are a recurrent feature). What lies behind this mix? Is the aim to get everything resonating together: each piece with other pieces, the works with the place, its history with your history? Can this be seen as a way of connecting art and real life?

Further to my last answer, I would say that providing dedications is a way for me to greet people, to convey another sign, in addition to the piece itself. With me, mixing is a bit like the sampling of strata in geology: it gives you an idea of the different levels that make up the place where we stand. As for the idea of linking art and life…
Do you have the feeling that the frontiers in art today are as hazy as they were in the Rococo period, when Watteau could paint a psychological picture, Gilles, and at the same time do decorative monkeys for a tapestry at Versailles?
That's a nice question full of twisted insinuations, and it reminds me just how much I've always liked Watteau.
As for the lack of definition: like me, you are a professional figure, a citizen, a man or a woman, a lover, and other things too. In all these "roles" you are the same person, but your alms in each situation are different. Well, it's the same for me.

Stéphane Calais expose à Thouars
Thierry Savatier, 12/08/2010

Il n’est pas si fréquent de voir de petites villes s’engager dans une démarche de promotion de l’art contemporain, appréhendé dans toute sa diversité. Tel est pourtant le cas de Thouars (labellisée « ville d’art et d’histoire », située à 35 km de Saumur) qui, chaque année, ouvre l’un de ses monuments – la chapelle Jeanne d’Arc – à un artiste, à charge pour ce dernier d’investir le lieu. Krijn de Koning, en 2004 et Kees Visser, en 2006, y avaient notamment accompli de remarquables installations. Cette année, Thouars accueille Stéphane Calais dont l’œuvre, reconnue et protéiforme (puisqu’elle touche l’ensemble des disciplines plastiques à l’exception de la vidéo) mérite que l'on s'y arrête. L’originalité de cet événement culturel estival réside dans le défi lancé à l’artiste invité. En effet, ce bâtiment néo-gothique construit à la fin du XIXe siècle et déconsacré depuis ne sert pas de simple salle d’exposition ; il constitue dans son intégralité le thème autour duquel le créateur élabore son projet.

read more

Paris - Delhi - Bombay...Stéphane Calais
Short film made by the Centre Pompidou for the exhibition "Paris - Delhi - Bombay", 2011

see the movie

Stéphane Calais, la collection ADAGP

Entretien de Stéphane Calais avec Olivier Michelon, directeur des Abattoirs Toulouse

Stéphane Calais, Une grammaire, Officiel Art décembre 2012, entretien croisé Jacques Séguéla/Stéphane Calais par Olivier Renaud, Zéro deux review