11.04.2024 miart #art

Pascale Marthine Tayou

I am not an artist, but a human being seeking joy in living everywhere

«Ruinart’s commitment to ecology is perfectly in tune with my practice and my deepest values»

He doesn’t like to define himself as an artist but simply as a ‘human being’ who seeks to find harmony in everyday life. We’re talking about Pascale Marthine Tayou, a star of contemporary art and protagonist – along with five other international creatives – of Ruinart’s 2024 Carte Blanche program: Conversations with Nature. This ‘human being’, originally from Cameroon but living and working in Ghent for years, creates exuberant and optimistic works using common objects, recycled materials, and sometimes even trash to highlight the injustices of globalization. ‘It’s my way,’ he says, ‘of bringing a little light into so much darkness.’ A failed lawyer, for the oldest Champagne house on the planet (founded in 1729), he created the works Cerf Contrôle, born from an artist’s vision in which, in a dream, he claims to have encountered a herd of deer near the historic Taissy vineyard in Reims during his stay at the Maison. The project is presented within Ruinart’s Vip Lounge on the occasion of the 28th edition of miart, the international fair of modern and contemporary art taking place from April 12th to 14th at the Allianz MiCo. We met Tayou during the creation of the wooden works evoking deer stands, whose fruits are a tribute to grapes.

Why did you say yes to Ruinart? What fascinated you about this project?

Pascale Marthine Tayou :

«It was precisely the idea of ‘conversation with nature’ that primarily fostered my connection with the Ruinart project. The maison’s commitment to ecology throughout the region is perfectly in line with my practice and my deepest values. Additionally, the team I collaborated with gave me carte blanche on everything: a great freedom that is essential in my work»

Have you already imagined what the public will think in front of the artwork Cerf Contrôle?

Pascale Marthine Tayou :

«I must confess I haven’t. I make proposals, and it’s up to the public to make their choices! I hope they can enter my universe and let themselves be carried away by the proposal originated from this magical place»

You were born in Yaoundé, but you’ve been living and working in Ghent for years. How have these two very different cities influenced your artistic approach?

Pascale Marthine Tayou :

«In fact, I was born in Nkongsamba, 370 kilometers from Yaoundé, and I reside in Ghent. Between these two cities, I travel the world gathering joy of living wherever I go. I work by intuition, in my studio but also in any space. This freedom allows me to create wherever I am, from Cameroon to Belgium»

What did you dream of doing at 14 years old?

Pascale Marthine Tayou :

«Ah, that’s a great question: I also would like to know where I dreamed of being 40 years ago… But I remember that as a child, I didn’t plan for the future. I lived in the present, in the real moment when things were happening. At that time, I didn’t have the tools to project myself into tomorrow. And even today, I more or less do the same. My state of mind remains the same as always. Don’t you think so too?»

Interview: Germano D’Acquisto

Photos: Niccolò Campita

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