Art Basel ubs arte 8 lusso art magazine in Dubai Art magazine arte 8 lusso
Thanks to the Olympics in Paris, I got to discover the French artist Laurent Perbos through his work «The Six Venuses».

I immediately felt mesmerized by the sculptures in pop colors, representing popular sports games while holding the timeless beauty of Venus de Milo. I enjoyed seeing other work by the artist that reflected his skillful and often poetic play with readymades, by altering their context and usage. Naturally, I wanted to know more about the artist and hope you will enjoy his work as much as I do. 

– Why/when have you decided to be an artist? If you imagined doing something else, what profession would you choose? 

– I have always been fascinated, since I was very young, by coloring and the exercise of shapes. So, I naturally turned to an artistic course in art school. Unlike a profession, a political commitment or a destination, I don’t think we choose to start an artistic career. Art is not determined by a choice and I have always considered it as a state. Art is as if inscribed in my person, it is a permanent state, a way of being, considered in its lasting nature. I must admit that I never imagined doing anything other than the work of my own hands.

Invert Pyramid, 2019
Basketballs, aluminum frame, coated metal wires, 250 x 250 x 235 cm

– What artists or art movements have influenced you?

– My sculptures are part of a practice of assemblage, initiated by the New Realists. It is an artistic approach “which does not shy away from its pleasure” and which fully embraces its aesthetic side, in particular because it is not limited to that.

I am part of a generation of artists who started in the 90s who no longer believe in the artistic radicalism of the 60s and who are no longer convinced that they can bring about important social changes through their art alone. It is therefore with a certain nuance of irony and (apparently) without ideology that I have an obvious interest in social interactions in almost all of my works. Some can also lend themselves to a political interpretation.

Ballon 2, 2003
Leather football, regulation dimensions squared
Photography Marcell Esterhazy

– Why have you selected sports as the main theme of your work? What are your favorite mediums?

– I’m interested in sport because people are interested in sport!

The objects that I chose to manipulate in my first sculptures were sporting articles, well known to everyone and offering an undeniable connection with the public. What better starting point to create new situations of exchange with the spectator, if not sport? These moments of distraction and play introduce, within the walls of the white cube, rules which, although known to everyone, remain very far from those of the exhibition modalities.

Generally speaking, my works mainly concern mass and entertainment activities from popular culture (gaming, sport, DIY, etc.), all with a logic of diversion.

First a painter, I then became a sculptor to avoid the problems inherent to the media. I am interested in the formation of a new formal vocabulary, somewhere between painting and sculpture, born from associations between forms, materials and ideas.

Martyr, 2008
Steel, arrows, polyurethane varnish, variable dimensions

– What techniques do you use when creating your work and what role does interaction play in your creations? 

– From certain favorite objects, I have managed to develop, throughout these years of creation, a real plastic language, a vocabulary of shapes and materials, certain elements of which punctuate all of my work in a recurring manner. These elements are in particular everyday objects that I assemble or re-interpret. Unlike an original work, the familiar shape of the everyday object saves the viewer time to decipher what they perceive. When we transform a characteristic of an object such as its weight, its size or its color, we obtain an unusual object, projecting the viewer into a surreal situation. This sort of visual and semantic collision disturbs the viewer and projects them into a new typology. I seek to provoke a strong visual impact on the viewer, which I nourish by using associations of contrasting ideas and contradictory materials underlined by a primary color chart, specific to mass retail companies.

I have included my practice in a register of popular references, which establishes a certain complicity between the work and the public, relying on the idea of ​​a collective sensitivity and considering “art as a state of encounter “. My intention is to create works as a ground for exchange, both physical and intellectual.

For example, in the series of works related to sport, I recover components from already existing games, such as ping-pong tables or footballs, whose codes I divert. The spectator is offered games, a priori well defined which, at a given moment, move away from their goals, transgress their rules and offer another reflection on the notions of failure and success, competitiveness and competition, entertainment or work.

Area, 2005
Synthetic turf, tennis net Regulatory dimensions of a tennis court, i.e. 23.774 x 10.973 m Exhibition views at the University of Provence, Parvis du Center des Lettres et Sciences Humaines

– What are your fav works until today and how did the public receive them?

– For several years, a new poetic breath has fueled my work. I am thinking of the Oxymore installation which is a very good example because it constitutes a new stage in this process of bringing together work and language.

After making trees, birds and even ancient statues cry, I turned into an alchemist, transforming the substance and value of a set of objects collected like a treasure. Casts of ancient statues, sparkling golden concrete blocks or even blocks of crystal of disproportionate size, all these elements play on their form, their symbolism and their material to state a state and contradict it simultaneously.

Indeed, “Oxymoron” reflects an artificial world; a world where the theaters are made of cardboard, where the marbles have become plaster, the precious stones have become plastic, the moldings have become concrete blocks and the golden apples from the Hespérides garden have become green plants from Jardiland… A kind of tragedy Greek where the dramaturgy rings false… A new form of contemporary beauty, which we should not deplore but rather learn to look at. My intention, through this installation, is to materialize, through the accumulation of several sculptures, poetic evocations. I use symbolic or allegorical images such as ivory, gold, or antique statuary and invent a story for them. I play on ideas, on representations. I appropriate literary devices, such as the oxymoron, the ellipse, the metaphor and create ambivalent images, both mental and visual. Thus the story imposes itself on the image and I leave it to the spectators to complete it or create other narrative threads.

Beauty and Gesture, 2024
Set of 6 sculptures which revisit the Venus de Milo and which stand out in various sporting disciplines: Tennis, Surfing, Basketball, Para-archery, Boxing and Javelin. Acrylic resin, acrylic paint, various accessories. Views of the exhibition on the steps of the colonnades of the Palais Bourbon as part of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Project labeled Cultural Olympiad by the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Organizing Committee. ©Alex Penfornis and ©National Assembly

– Talk about your latest work for the Olympics – the inspiration, the process, the challenges and most importantly, the message. 

– The theme of myth is largely present in some of my exhibitions. I see the exhibition as an initiatory tale where the hero (the spectator) sets out to meet charismatic characters. This entire journey now leads me to focus my work on ancient statuary and the avatars it has produced throughout the History of art. Even today, many artistic works are inspired by this. What motivates my new plastic research is not a particular sculpture but rather the archetype of the ancient statue. It is the latter that interests me and that I wish to use, as a material, in a real work of sculpture.

The history of the world is inscribed in the marble of the statues, and Paris, the museum city with its numerous artistic testimonies, reflects this heritage. This year, as part of the Olympic Games, Paris becomes the world capital of sport. To respond to the National Assembly’s proposal to exhibit a work during the Olympic Games, I had the idea of ​​combining ancient sculptures and sport to create Beauty and Gesture.

The Venus de Milo, an ancient work, kept at the Louvre Museum, is one of the 5 best-known statues in the world. And it is quite intuitively that I chose to reinterpret it in this project for the National Assembly. When it was discovered on the island of Milos in Greece in 1821, the statue lacking its arms gave rise to many hypotheses as to its original posture: was it holding the apple of Paris? Was she leaning on the shoulder of Mars? Was she looking at herself in a shield?

Beauty and Gesture, 2024. Part

To nourish this imagination, I projected the Venus de Milo into the contemporary world, and I invite her to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Thus, 2000 years after Ovid, the famous statue covers her arms and stands out today today in various sporting disciplines: tennis, surfing, basketball, archery, boxing and javelin.

Like the Olympic rings symbolizing the five continents, the Venuses display several colors of the chromatic prism. They thus evoke the colors of the rainbow, and without being directly associated with the LGBTQIA+ movement (the colors are out of order here), this work wishes to be perceived as a strong reminder of equal rights, fight against hatred and discrimination.

Beauty and Gesture, 2024. Part

The postures of Venus embody emblematic sports of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This is why I gave Venus in the archer’s posture a single arm, a clear desire to represent Paralympism. To push the idea of ​​equality further, the feminine image embodied par excellence by the Venus de Milo, shakes up the collective imagination which still too often associates sport with masculinity. The Venus de Milo is a representation of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty. In this new configuration, endowed with sporting attributes, these six Venuses become an ode to the beautiful gesture: that of the sportswoman who, in a final effort to achieve the feat, seems to be “touched by the grace of the Gods”.

In short, “Beauty and Gesture” reflects inclusiveness, strong values ​​supported by Olympism.

Calydon, 2010
Metal structure, bungee cords, javelins, variable dimensions
Views of the Tout l’Univers exhibition, Istres Contemporary Art Center

– What are the dream projects that you are yet to realize?

– In my artistic approach, one idea leads to another, then another follows, and from this incessant logic emanates forms. Rather than carrying out a particular project, I especially want to keep this dynamic: creating emotions by modeling and displaying color.

– What is your artistic motto? 

– Art is not hidden, it is everywhere. You just need to open your eyes.