The Amazing Geoffroy Mottart

I had the pleasure of speaking with Belgium artist, Geoffroy Mottart about his floral works. He places beards and wigs made of vibrant colors on public statues. With the generous French translation help of Carmen Kingsley, here is our interview.

ES: How would you describe your work?

GM: I style statues with floral compositions, because I feel like I am building a border between this long lasting art, anchored in time and ephemeral, but equally magnificent flowers.

I have been working with flowers for more than 20 years, I’m fond of the artistic creations created with them, however I love just as much the timelessness of the “Sculpture” that exists since the man discovered art .

This “border” between the ephemeral floral art and the lasting art of sculpture affects me a lot.

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Jean Delville – Photo from Geoffroy Mottart

ES: What made you decide to create these flower pieces on public sculptures?

GM: A book called International Floral Art (http://fleurbookshop.com/international-floral-art-16-17.html) spotted me during my participation in florist competitions and asked me to send pictures of my artwork and that’s where things started to fall into place.

ES: You talk about the choice of statue for your work. You mention finding the right kind of statue for your work. Could you expand on that?

GM: It is not so much that I look for a very specific statue, instead I look for statues that could become nearly human when I style them. I appreciate statues that have subtle traits, that have depth to them.

ES: How do you choose the flowers for your pieces? Color, shape, meaning?

GM: I choose flowers based on several criteria:

– The character and delicacy of the statue’s features

– The statue´s color and material.

– The place where it is located.

– The season.

ES: How long does it take to create a piece? How long does it take to install a piece on a statue?

GM: I estimate that for the entire creation of a piece of art; it takes me about ten hours, the installation generally doesn’t take so much time, I work a lot in my workshop.

ES: I read that you take the pieces down after a few days because the flowers will fade and die. You said that keeping them up would give a different meaning to the piece. Could you explain a little more?

GM: My goal is to highlight the statues, and to leave the dead flowers on them would make the passerby much less interested in appreciating them. I am someone who loves beautiful things, color, life; and so it would be senseless to let the flowers rot.

ES: How do you want people to react to your work?

GM: I am not interested in a particular reaction, just the fact that people notice my work is an end in itself, since my goal is to make them rediscover what surrounds them.

ES: Would you call yourself a street artist?

GM: Yes, I define myself as an artist working in public space.

Thanks to Geoffroy Mottart for the interview and thanks to Carmen Kingsley for her amazing French translating work.

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Photo by Geoffroy Mottart

Part 1: Spring in NYC

So this past weekend, I took a lovely trip to New York City. For the next couple of days, I’ll be talking about the fantastic (and much needed) trip during the end of Easter week.

We arrived early afternoon on Thursday. We stayed near Union Square, which I have come to really like. I love the small neighborhoods of NYC. I’ve decided that I’m not very fond of Midtown; it’s too big and flashy for me. Anyway, I threw my stuff in the hotel room and started to wander the neighborhood.

The Strand bookstore was nearby so naturally, I went. I usually have about twenty minutes there when I’m in town. It was nice to have about an hour to wander the store. It’s known for its used books but unless you really feel like digging, the deals aren’t too great. But it’s always got an interesting selection of books. I found a book about the history of cooking utensils and books by newly translated Scandinavian writers. Also it has funky socks. Yeah, books and socks. My dream place.

Afterwards, we decided to go the High Line Park. Basically, there was an elevated track on the west side of Manhattan that was no longer used for trains. They decided to turn it into a giant elevated narrow park. It’s more of a boardwalk than park but it’s quite impressive. Buildings have been built around it; trees and art emerge from the planks of wood. People were out and about. One man was selling “Poems while you wait” and another woman brought out her grey parrot to enjoy the sun. It’s fairly long; I think they keep extending it. We walked most of it, from Gansevoort Street to 30th. It even has elevators at various points so that it remains accessible. It’s a wonderful place. I look forward to when we get our own version here in Chicago in the form of the 606 in Wicker Park/Buck Town.

High Line

Then we wandered to the Macy’s flagship. Last week, I talked about the magnificent flower show at the Chicago Macy’s on State Street. The Macy’s flower show was in full bloom (hah!) when we were there. The shows had the same theme but it was interesting to see how they were done differently. This Macy’s had these flowering displays on lintels overhead; each was a nod to a different artist. There were displays in the middle of aisles with orchids and Chihuly glass sticking out. Outside, the windows were magnificent. Ballerinas spun amidst pink flowers. But they didn’t have a secret garden like Macy’s in Chicago. I actually prefer that since the 9th floor space feels tucked away and unknown. It makes it feel more magical. But Macy’s NY had a nice show too.

Then we walked up to Time Square. I’ve come to realize that I’m really not a fan of it. Normally, I love places of great spectacle but it comes off as bland. Like it’s trying to be Vegas and missing the mark. Or Vegas learned how to improve upon it. Also, it’s filled with tourists and the most generic shops and restaurants. I was glad to get out of there. However, there are some amazing old hotels nearby including the Algonquin Hotel where Dorothy Parker and her fellow sharp tongued compatriots met. This is the NY I love. That history.

We ended up back near Union square. Near our hotel, there are a lot of farm to table places. We ended up at one called County, which was tasty but expensive. (They advertised a happy hour deal for $10 Margaritas. Only NY!). They had very good multi-grained bread and some tasty bass fish. It’s not my favorite of those style restaurants in the area but it was interesting to try another one. (Friend of Farmer is nearby; we had dinner there almost a year ago and I still remember it!)

What a first lovely day in NYC!

That’s all for now!

Macy’s Flower Show 2015

It’s that amazing time of year again. One of my favorite commercial events is going on: The Macy’s Flower show. I’ve talked about it last year but it bears mentioning again. For about two weeks in the spring, Macy’s puts together these incredible flower displays in their windows and the 9th floor. It’s a great tradition that was brought over from NY. Yes, I’ve said it. But the nice thing is that they have improved upon it by adding a magical flowering forest in the 9th floor of Macy’s.

Each year has a different theme, like Brazil and India. This year, they’ve taken the theme to a new level: art. There are sections for major art “movements” like the Renaissance, Impressionism, Fauvism, and even Pop Art. They each exemplify the art movement in really unique ways. For instance, the Renaissance section projects famous oil paintings onto a woven carpet of white blossoms. One gallery was a nod to Gustave Klimt with his highly decorative shapes on the walls and columns of the room. There was a nice tip of the hat to Piet Mondrian, though he might be spinning in his grave since his work tried to remove nature from art…

Mondrian...

Mondrian…

The Fauvism Room created an inspired 3D landscape. You look through a picture frame and it looks 2D. But when you start moving around, you realize the 3D aspect behind it. Amazing. There’s even a version of one of Matisse’s paintings filled in with appropriately colored flowers. Also, they have a section with amazing art glass that has to be Chihuly. Once again, the art glass seamlessly blends with the surrounding flowers and plants.

That's not a 2D painting

That’s not a 2D painting

Matisse + Flowers

Matisse + Flowers

My personal favorite was the room for Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry night. It’s simply the best reproduction of the painting. It’s a nice reminder of the potency of the over-exposed painting. Seriously, go for this alone. It’s magnificent.

Starry Night 3D

Starry Night 3D

They also had some fun moments riffing off still lifes. There was a bouquet of flowers next to a painting of the identical display of flowers. Or a display of flowers like a classic still life behind a glass panel. There’s even a fish tank (I’m not sure why).

Also I have to say that I haven’t had time to study the shop windows. What I’ve seen quickly looks amazing. I’ll be going back again.

I do have to say that I’m disappointed that they really only included Western Art. There didn’t seem to be anything referencing art outside the European and American traditions. Plus, I didn’t love the surrealist room. It’s my favorite art movement so I’m very picky. More Magritte references were needed.

However, those criticisms should not stop you from going. It’s only open until Easter Sunday so hurry by.

That’s all for now!