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How did you get into stencil art?
It was like a Eureka moment for me. By that I mean that once I discovered stenciling, everything was different afterwards. I had been searching for my own essential artistic identity for some time, and then I encountered this medium which quite literally gave me a framework, a structure. Because a stencil is like a frame around a creative space – it’s no exaggeration to say the medium gave me structure myself.
What particularly interested you in portraying the Ariane rocket?
The important thing is to have breadth and freedom. I’m always working to push myself to new heights. That’s what I did with Ariane, that’s what interested me. People don’t expect me just to ‘draw a rocket’. I tried to create something a million miles away from a technical drawing, real works of art which pack an emotional punch on an entirely human level.
Please describe your two Ariane artworks?
They are both done exclusively with a stencil and spray paint. The first illustration, of Ariane 6 in space, is very much inspired by popular culture. It’s Tintin on the Moon, that kind of thing: I tried to depict it in true comic-strip style. And in the Ariane 5 lift-off picture, I was looking to portray a massive abstraction: the focus is not on the launcher but on its propulsion system blasting off.
This isn’t the first time that you’ve taken an aerospace theme for your work, is it?
No, indeed, I have just finished an exhibition at France’s National Air and Space Museum (Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace) near Paris called La légende des cieux (Legend of the Skies). There are still about 30 works from it dotted around the streets in the local area. [Portraits of key figures from the history of aviation and aerospace.] The itinerary, which fully reflects my universe, takes you from Leonardo da Vinci to astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Is it a topic that speaks to you personally?
Exploration is what appeals to me in the world of space and it’s a topic I have often returned to: my E=MC215 series was about the history of science and then I did an exhibition called Saga Mécanique recounting the history of engineers. This collaboration with ArianeGroup took me back to my work drawing on Star Wars and Star Trek.
What does space mean to you?
It’s probably the greatest industry of dreams there is. If we suddenly stopped doing launches, our horizons would truly be limited. It’s incredible. Sending something into space is so out of this world.
If you had the opportunity for other collaborations on this topic, what would you like to do?
I would do something centred on humans. In my wildest dreams, I would love to have one of my works sent into space and ideally put one, a sculpture for example, on the Moon.