Bastien Burcher is a French and Swiss artist, currently living in Bremen, Germany. Following an experience as a graphic designer in Beirut, in January 2017 he made the decision fully launch himself into his artistic practice. In the interview he talks about his way of making art, his inspirations and what he is focusing on at the moment.
You are inspired by the antique period. Where does that come from and what exactly are you interested in?
4 years ago, I've seen a picture of an antique Greek vase. I don’t remember which one but it was kind of a shock. The abstract beauty of the black and red spaces and the precision of the lines seemed truly amazing to me. Also, I realized how strong and direct the power of this aesthetic was for telling stories. The lines are clear, the drawing is simple and the colored surfaces make the rest. So, it was created in such an efficient way that I tried to make my own. I had an atelier in Lyon at this time, the city where I lived 10 years before moving to Germany. I tried many ways to develop a contemporary version of this antique aesthetic. After one year of research, I finally found a mixed media technique which satisfied me.
Your mixed media artworks are layers of drawing, paint and print. How many layers are there and with what do you start?
The full process is indeed built with drawing/printing and painting. I always start with a preparative drawing from reality like a sketch or more inner imagination. I started to learn drawing at the age of 16 because I wanted to be able to draw in a classical way. I guess it will always have an important part in my work. That’s also why it’s so hard for me to make abstract paintings. Anyway, after the sketch, I make a print on paper with a basic printing process called monotype. I put some ink on a glass and directly in the fresh I remove some part to make my drawing. I need to be fast because the ink is drying in 10 minutes. This specificity I give to my drawing are some mistakes and a direct single line. So, when I did this, I put my paper on and press it with my hands and some basic tools like a spoon. The result is a complete black surface, except the lines I made which come in white (the color of the paper to be precise). It can also happen that I just print the paper without drawing. When this dark printing is dry, I use oil painting on it to complete the piece with colored zones, light effects etc…
How can we imagine your studio space?
I have a shared atelier in the center of Bremen, a neighborhood called Viertel. We are 6 people working there: two web designers, two photographers and a textile designer. The space is divided in two rooms. In the front one I have my glass desk where I print. It’s almost always covered with black ink and my tools to print. I stand to print so there is no chair. Just this glass table. And in the back space I have a corner where there are my oils, easel, papers etc… the light is nice because we have this industrial glass roof, which you can also find in old factories. When I was younger, I was really messy with my stuff and always putting colors and ink everywhere. But with the years I learned how to organize myself more and work in an efficient space. So, it’s not really the cliché of a messy painting studio, colors on the wall, cigarettes and wine bottles everywhere!
What is your focus on at the moment?
I had a big flower vase focus some months ago, which I will continue to dig because it’s really enjoyable to do and people seem happy to see it as well. But right now, I’m preparing my next solo show in Lyon in collaboration with the Galerie Autour de l’image. It’s my third one there. And this time the topic is my new city, Bremen! I try to capture the essence of this city: the bars, the people, the landscape etc. My challenge is to give to the «Lyonnais» the feeling for some hours to be intimate with the Bremen people. In this time of self-protection and nationalism rise, it seems so important to me to show that no matter the nationality we are not so different and finally we enjoy the same simple things. And why not maybe some of them can think of Bremen for their next holidays. I have some good addresses now!