Mixed Tape #57 Cover
Artist Marc Turlan.
With his collages and installations, the French artist
simultaneously creates and unmasks modern myths.
Scalpel on canvas.
He cuts, tears, covers and decontextualizes. What might sound like a clean and clear-cut surgical procedure turns out to be quite the opposite: Marc Turlan’s sensitive, fleet-fingered approach to collaging easily captures the world around him. With his calm, open manner and engaging blue eyes the Parisian seems ready to delve deep into the emotional mysteries of his surroundings. “In my early twenties,” he says, “I studied biology to become a doctor. But two years down the line I suddenly realised that I wanted to do something completely different.”
Contrary to his parents’ wishes, Marc decided to study and teach Roman mosaics, followed by a career in fine arts. He still uses the scalpel, but only on the canvas. Born out of this sharp technique, one of his best-known collages emerged
from a collaboration with Nike and Givenchy’s head of design, Riccardo Tisci. By tearing up a portrait to reveal the Nike logo underneath, he created the eerily familiar yet fascinating illusion of a torn magazine.
It's all about images.
Now, most of Marc’s collages and installations feature distorted photos taken from fashion magazines, his pieces often sparking associations to ethnic masks or sculptural works. “It's all about images. Images and what is hidden behind them,” the artist explains. To find out more about the man behind our current Mixed Tape #57 cover, we catch up with Marc for a chat.
Tell us a little about a day in the life of Marc Turlan.
I woke up at 6 am and was at the studio from 10 am until 1 pm. Then I had lunch for an hour and went back to the studio until 6 pm. In the evening I had a beer and then dinner at 9 pm.
Sounds like a quite regular life.
As an artist you need to maintain personal discipline. Sometimes you’ll be working, but the people around you don’t see it. They think you’re playing or dreaming – and you may be playing or dreaming, but it’s still work. And sometimes you doubt yourself. But you’re in the studio, and being in the studio means that you’re at work, somehow.
What drives you in life as well as in your art?
I think I’m driven by love. Enthusiasm, happiness and sweetness are one in my life and in my art. That means I pay attention to my tribe: relatives, very close friends and those who may or may not become very good friends. I expect from my tribe that they follow my work. And they do, actually. That’s
very important to me. Being a visual artist means that you’re alone with your work most of the time. If you can’t share with others in total confidence, it can become very hard. After all, even van Gogh had a brother.
Sincerity is sexy.
What's your favourite material to work with at the moment?
For the time being, I’m working mostly with photographs of ancient statues that I mix with photographs of people (models, stars, even erotica stars). I mix the pictures until everything fits. And when it does fit, it’s kind of magic. Only then can I start the collage.
Speaking of collages, do you find that by layering you reveal real beauty? Or is it the truth you are looking for? If so, does real beauty lie in truth for you?
Only the truth is important for an artist in their work, but truth and beauty are both personal matters. So I’m mindful about revealing my truth. To describe the use and re-use of masks in my portraits, I like to paraphrase Marguerite Duras: “It’s by absence that things are said”. You can do anything in art and
the result can be beautiful or not, but that isn’t the point. What you can’t ever do is be insincere. You can work for several days and many hours on a piece, but if you consider it unsatisfactory once it’s finished, you have no choice but to throw it away, even when others around you find it nice. It doesn't matter. Truth is sexy. Sincerity is sexy.
One of your installations contains six sheets of mirror inscribed with the words Work, Notoriety, Sincerity, Power and Love. What do those concepts mean to you?
These words are part of a statement I used in my exhibition “Exo Star” at the Galerie Anne de Villepoix in Paris in 2011. I chose these words to express my situation as an artist at that precise moment. By extension, they represent a kind of generalised life system of ultra-contemporary Western society.
You use fashion magazines as raw material to create your pieces. How would you describe your relationship with fashion?
What I’m interested in when it comes to fashion is the kind of images it produces; these images function as a system, in Roland Barthes’ terms. I use fashion magazines as raw material in the same way I would use marble if I were a sculptor, for example. Fashion doesn’t play a big part in the process.
What was the first album you bought?
That was such a long time ago – it was a Radiohead album, which still makes me shiver till this day.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m preparing an exhibition in Brussels this October: a new series of embroidered collages coupled with a T-shirt
edition conceived with two graphic designers and an object designer.
It’s been a pleasure chatting, thank you Marc!
Download Mixed Tape #57 and Marc Turlan’ artwork for free here.