CARIBBEAN DREAMS: The Chanel Culture Fund is flying the French flag, supporting the multimedia artist Julien Creuzet, who is representing the country at the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale.
Chanel’s Culture Fund, which is headed by Yana Peel, global head of arts and culture at Chanel, described Creuzet, a visual artist, video-maker and poet, as an inspirational figure in contemporary art.
Born in 1986, Creuzet is a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. He is the first person of Caribbean descent and the first artist from the French overseas territories to represent France at the Venice Biennale, which runs from April 20 to Nov. 24.
His announcement as this year’s artist was held in Martinique in order to highlight the territory and its artistic scene, which is a major source of his inspiration.
His work will be on show inside and outside the French Pavilion, and is inspired by “the imaginary worlds of the Caribbean, at the crossroads of African, Indian and European cultures,” according to the artist.
Creuzet’s work also focuses on the spoken word, so a “sonic reader” including more than 70 sound pieces will be shared regularly on social media and various online platforms during the Biennale.
An artist’s book will contain a series of unpublished images collages by Creuzet as well as poems and passages of text.
Creuzet said his installation was inspired by his childhood and by weekends spent with his father and little brother in the dense woods around Anse Couleuvre. They’d play a game of looking for the Martinique red tree spider.
“Looking for this spider, trying to catch a glimpse of it in the density of the foliage, is sometimes a chance encounter that jumps out at you, sometimes it is a real in-depth quest into the density of trees, foliage, branches, decomposing trunks,” Creuzet said.
“Sometimes you think you see it and it’s not there, sometimes you actually see it, sometimes you just fantasize about it. There’s something of that about the pavilion,” he added.
The artist described the installation as “a crossway, a place where anything may be encountered, above all oneself.”
Peel said that walking into the French Pavilion for the first time “will be a wonderful moment. Julien is adept at poetry, music, film, and animation. He is a prodigious assembler of the ready-made, and he has an intuitive ability to weave together many different cultural legacies.
“His art is driven by his scholarship as a professor of art at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. But it’s also propelled by his willingness to travel the world, to soak up all he sees. Flotsam washed up by an ocean tide can stand shoulder to shoulder with the work of an old master. It’s audacious and exciting,” she said.
Chanel’s support of Creuzet marks the brand’s biggest moment at the Venice Biennale since Zaha Hadid designed the 2008 mobile art pavilion for the French company.
The Chanel Culture Fund, set up in 2021, is aimed at supporting creative pioneers and working with international museums and institutions that are open to showcase art in innovative ways.
It was built on the brand’s tradition of patronage and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s well-known role in supporting the arts.
Its aim, the company has said, is to “champion creative audacity for a better future,” and “give visibility to global game changers at a time when the arts provide a vital source of inspiration, and shifting perspectives, on the way we view the world.”