Christophe Charbonnel occupies a space in art that bewilders the imagination and taunts physics. His sculptures are immensely alluring and they play with light, space and posture in ways that many sculptors fail to master. His work allows him to reconnect with himself and art in general has given him a way to forever stay unique. The look in his wife’s eyes are his best compliment and he holds kindness near and dear to his heart. Christophe is an outlier in a world made up of sheeple (our term for blind followers) and the honor was all ours when he decided to grace us with his poignant words. See the interview below.
“Those missing parts represent a sort of rhythmic game between the contours …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I now live in the Chevreuse Valley near Paris. I grew up in Paris with my two brothers. My childhood or adolescence rather was quite a complicated time for me. I refused to enter normality and I took a great interest in drawing. I started practicing every day at the age of 14. After some twists and turns, I discovered sculpture at age 25 and this was a great revelation!
What does your art mean to you?
Art can be for one who is interested, a chance to reconnect with himself, whether as actor or spectator, I think art is a space of freedom and creation, experimentation and discovery.
How do you describe your form of sculpture?
My work is figurative. It is built on a conventional base which is a tribute to the old masters. It is also an expression of emotion that cannot be verbalized.
Your sculptures seem very ancient in construct and you tend to leave some key parts out of many of your figures – why do you do this? What tools do you use for the creation of your work and how did you create your personal style?
This is because it is not necessary to show everything at one time. The feeling is already there – clear and present. Those missing parts represent a sort of rhythmic game between the contours, shadows and light. The voids in the objects play an integral role.
To do this, I use all the tools related to the practice of modeling, starting with a welding machine to design the frame, and finishing with plaster for casting, all while following my original drawing. Sometimes I make tools to suit my needs.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I am inspired by everything around me – all I feel and the people I meet. I love animation, fiction, history and comics and all these things inspire me.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
One day a man walked past the window of a gallery where I was showing my creations. I heard him say in passing with a dejected grimace, “Oh that’s ugly” At first I was annoyed and then I was amused by the situation. I realized that no matter what good or bad feedback I get, I need to use these as energy to move forward and excel. I always strive to do better. I always question my work and I am never satisfied.
The best compliment is something in the eyes of my wife.
Which artist/s and or sculptures do you look up to the most?
For now it’s Rembrandt. His use of reflection, shadows and light is just remarkable.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
Elegance – whether it be physical or intellectual.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Be kind as much as possible.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
I would love to travel a few days with a blues man like Sonny Boy Williamson. In music there is something instantaneous. Music allows you to share the present moment like nothing else.