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.

_MG_6543

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.

_MG_3952

Photo by Geoffroy Mottart

NYC Fall 2016: Part 2

What a lovely day. We started out walking the full length of the High Line, a repurposed elevated train line turned into walking path/park. We had originally intended to go to the Whitney but it was a wondrously beautiful day. I really love the High Line. I love the repurposing of industrial space into a place of nature and art. I love how it curves between and even through buildings. You never know what you are going to find on the way. We found people selling campaign buttons (Hillary yes, no to Trump). One time, someone was writing poetry on demand with a typewriter; another time a lady was walking her grey parrot.

14241398_10100940882236280_7951577111449496384_o

The art was amazing. There were various pieces of sculpture including this piece with a tree growing out of a car.

14257603_10100941193083340_7795258046243984884_o

 I also found some beautiful pieces of street art while on the highline. This one was the roof of a building that you can only see from the Highline. We ended up walking the entire length of it, passing the giant trainyard.

14290023_10100941194779940_8861544076866959614_o

For lunch, we needed a quick place and found this large but empty Italian place. We got some great NY greasy pizza.

It was time for a graffiti tour! We signed up for a tour of the Bowery and the Village with Graff Tours. We met at an intersection and our guide found us. The tour was great. Our tour guide showed us some amazing pieces around the neighborhood and told us about the artists involved. At first I was annoyed since we were walking by so many pieces that she wasn’t talking about, and then I realized that there was so much art, she could have spent hours going over it all. She took us the best pieces; ones that we wouldn’t have known about! I finally got to see a mural by JR who is a photographer who takes these incredible photos of people and puts them up in large form on buildings. This one (left) is of a NYC ballerina. I had seen a TED talk about his work in the favelas of Brazil. Next to it was this astonishing mural by Os Gemios (right). It’s so vibrant. Sadly, a building will be put up next to it and it may obscure the view of it.

We ended up at this impressively large stencil mural by Logan Hicks of a city street. He invited everyone he knew to go to a street, took a photo, and then made it into stencil mural. What a beautiful tribute to the city!

14249800_10100943699161140_8767434150876957886_o

Then it was time for more mischief! My husband and father went to see the battleship USS Intrepid the day before. They learned that Star Trek the experience was going on. My husband was kind enough to go back with me to see it. Holy cow, it was so cool! The whole premise was that you were trying to join Star Fleet. You take a series of tests and quizzes and you have a watch sensor that tracks your progress. At the end, they tell you where you may be best suited. You had to scan a klingon in sick bay to figure out what might be wrong. There was navigating of ships through dangers. Phaser game. There were seven kiosks quizzes that you had to take to get a good score. And yes, there were props of uniforms, objects like tricorders and universal translators. It was great.

But the best part was taking the Kobayashi Maru test while on the deck of the enterprise. I took it and failed… At the very end, I was sorted into the Science with a secondary in Command. Whoohoo!

14257598_10100943719101180_802889492008715958_o

We had just enough time to go on the battleship and check out the planes on top.

14258155_10100943719495390_457889715981473785_o

Next, it was time to meet a college friend for some drinks near Union Square. It was a nice little cocktail bar off 2nd. Tasty drinks and great company.

Dinner was with good friends and my parents at a Spanish place in the Village. We like it because we can get lobster there, a good staple of any trip to NYC. After dinner, we wandered through Washington Square Park, which was hopping. There was a production of Midsummer going on, which was rather neat to see a few minutes of. There was a pianist playing beautiful music into the September night.

14258162_10100944468204970_5973966584823393945_o

The following morning was our last day in NYC. We had a lovely brunch with friends in the cafe at Union Square. I had some delicious avocado toast. The weather was perfect, which was nice considering the fears about approaching hurricane. We walked around the area, taking in Madison Square Park nearby. What a wonderful trip!

That’s all for now!

NYC Spring 2016

Now that I’ve finished talking about our trip to France and England, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks talking about my recent trip to NYC for Easter.  NYC is one of those thrilling places that I love to visit. I’m glad I live in Chicago but NYC is always fun.

Our first day there, we decided to go to the Frick Museum. Since it was a relatively nice and sunny day, we walked from our hotel to the museum next to CEntral Park on 5th avenue. Spring was already making its mark in NYC. We think that Chicago might be two weeks behind NYC. The magnolia trees were wearing their full glory while tiny daffodils were popping from the soil. We passed the petting zoo so we saw all the goats sheep and the one llama.

10155511_10100805396346090_913161693789220752_n.jpg

The Frick

The Frick was wonderful as always. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the house and collection were Henry Clay Frick, an American industrialist and art patron. The collection houses several Vermeers, Hans Holbein, and much more. The paintings are displayed throughout the house, mostly how Mr. Frick had it in his lifetime. So you have the wonderful combination of astonishing art with beautiful furnishing. I did learn that one of the most iconic rooms, the Garden Court, was actually an addition after his death. Mr. Frick had always planned for the house to become a museum and stipulated it in his will. The area that the court is located was actually a road that connected 71st and 72nd street. When he died, they converted the coach house and other buildings to make space for visitors. The Garden Court is truly a gem in the building. I think Mr. Frick would have approved of it.

12670354_10100805396371040_3520682113422039848_n.jpg

Garden Court

There was a Van Dyck exhibition going on, which was interesting. Initially, we thought it was just the exhibit in the basement where we saw lots of his drawings. I find drawings moderately interesting. Later, we discovered there was a wonderful room filled with his paintings, which was superb. They did have a few drawings there so you can compare the drawing with the final painting.

My favorite room is the Living Hall with its deep brown and green tones. Framing the fireplace is Holbein’s painting of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell on the other side. Above the fireplace, there is El Greco’s St. Jerome. Other works include Chinese ceramics and wooden furniture. It’s really a masterful room.

After our time at the museum, we decided to find some lunch at EAT on Madison. It’s a bakery/restaurant. We shared a chopped liver sandwich that was really quite good. For dessert, we had a really wonderful warm pecan pie.

We were only a few blocks away from the Met Breuer, which had opened a week previously. The Met decided to buy the building where the Whitney used to be housed and apparently will use it as a contemporary exhibition space. The building is a classic example of the awful Brutalist style that was popular several decades ago. Ugh.

The major exhibition, however, was rather fascinating. THe theme was “unfinished” works of art. It started with the middle ages and Renaissance. Very neat to see paintings where only a part of it was painted while the rest are drawing lines. There was a particularly haunting painting of a beautifully dressed woman without a face. They also had this Van Gogh painting that took me a moment to figure out how it was unfinished (how do you tell?). The sky was only a few blue brush strokes with the canvas peaking through. The painting was one of the last he did at the end of his life. Presumably, he would have finished if he hadn’t committed suicide.

1924048_10100805263751810_2872235030607345067_n.jpg

“Unfinished” at the Met Breuer

The second floor of the exhibition was a more contemporary and creative look at the theme. There were rooms dedicated to ideas similar to “Unfinished” like infinity or decay. It was moderately successful. I did scoff at a Pollock (how do you know it’s done?) but it made sense that there was a Pollock in an exhibition like this. I think this part of the exhibition was less successful than the first floor. They had a one woman show of Nasreen Mohamedi, an abstract artist. It was moderately interesting. I liked one or two of her early work but the rest didn’t do it for me. Alas.

The next stop was Soho/Bowery. There’s an artisanal market that I like going to in the Village called “Market NYC” but it’s only Friday through Sunday. Since it was Thursday, there was an alternative space in Soho that we went to check out. It’s a lot smaller but there were interesting artisans vending their crafts. Leather bags with eyes, animal head rings, mustache and beard wax. It was fun. We then took a lovely stroll through the area. I loved all the street art. We found a hole in the wall place that had bite sized cupcakes for a $1. I tried the cotton candy cupcake (less than two bites) that was quite lovely! Eventually, we ended up in Union Square for sushi, which was lovely.

 

1915958_10100805566500100_4020140675892422215_n.jpg

Art in the Bowery/Soho

1557711_10100805566415270_8263606578666541065_n.jpg

More Art

It was a fine way to end our first day!

Part 3: Musings on Rio

While it is not cultivated nature, I’m going to talk about the Escadaria Selaron in Lapa. It is a steep staircase of 250 steps covered in brightly colored tiles. It’s truly astonishing. It is the work of the late Chilean artist Jorge Selaron who started it in 1990. Originally, he had no budget and found what materials he could. Eventually, it transformed into the bright bold staircase that it is today. It has gained some fame: a Fanta commercial was filmed there.

Staircase Elisa Shoenberger 2013

Staircase
Elisa Shoenberger 2013

The staircase is a riot of color. The base color is bright red but there are bursts of green, yellow, and blue. At the very top, there is a wonderful Brazilian flag made from tiles. (But it’s a hike up there!). There are tiles from all over the world: Afghani tiles with beautiful Arabic script, a tile with  famous phase “Don’t Mess with Texas,” Argentine soccer clubs and much more. Each flight of stairs has a pattern of tiles. The artist also has made several tiles that are self-portraits of himself as a black pregnant woman with a moustache.

Brazilian flag detail Elisa Shoenberger 2013

Brazilian flag detail
Elisa Shoenberger 2013

The first time I went to the staircase was on a trip with students. It was a bit of a wild goose chase. One of my friends found a book of pictures in his hotel room and saw the staircase in it. He wanted to go; I wanted to adventure. So we made off from the center with my poor Portuguese to find it. We wandered to and fro, wandering behind the aqueduct and pyramid-shaped Cathedral. Eventually, we got the right directions and came across this spectacular staircase. I think I saw the drawings of Selaron in front of his house. He apparently lived there and continued to make art.

Sadly, Jorge Selaron was found dead on the stairs in 2012. Thank you Jorge Selaron for this amazing piece you put together.