Flowa Powa: Julien des Monstiers
Cuturi Gallery is delighted to usher in the New Year with Flowa Powa, a solo exhibition by Julien des Monstiers (b. 1983, France). Embracing an intuitive and liberated approach to painting, des Monstiers presents five new paintings foregrounding floral motifs in his signature style.
Born in 1983, des Monstiers graduated from the prestigious École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris under the tutelage of Jean-Michel Alberola. At the heart of his practice lies an incessant concern for the methodology of painting. To this end, des Monstiers does not adhere to and fervently resists fixed categories such as abstraction and figuration in his approach to painting. Instead, the French artist borrows from a multitude of aesthetic principles including collage and montage to challenge the conventions surrounding painting. Such perspective naturally sees his heightened sensitivity to the processual nature of the medium, relegating his choice of subject matter as simply pretext for him to paint. A rising artist from the circles of the Parisian art scene, des Monstiers’ works have been widely received and exhibited at Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris and Yishu8, Beijing, among others. He has also been awarded the Antoine Marin Prize (2015), Yishu 8 Prize (2017), and Pierre Cardin Prize (2019).
For Flowa Powa, des Monstiers’ spirited treatment of painting centers on the floral motif depicted in a lush state of abundance. Here, beauty and chaos appear to exist in tension as motifs of florets are repeatedly imprinted across the canvases. Nonetheless, the artist’s careful intermesh of exuberant colours maintains a delicate sense of order amidst the variegated frenzied strokes and patches of paint in and around the floral patterns.
Focused on the physical experience of painting, des Monstiers’ modus operandi begins with a thickly painted canvas. Such method enables him to withhold the tangible presence of the blank canvas as a material object, and position it as a space for him to conscientiously work through the operations of painting. Armed with a palette of tools, des Monstiers switches between his brushes and unconventional articles such as sticks and marbles, to execute his paintings. As he paints and scratches away at the multiple layers of paint embedded within each painting, des Monstiers carves out personal pathways of logic for each work. Following which, he repairs the painting’s assaulted surface by applying thin plaster coats in several layers. When the canvas is barely dry, he paints on a plexiglass or metal plate to transfer and imprint the motif throughout the surface of the painting.
In Flora Powa 1 (2020), clusters of pink flowers are juxtaposed against a backdrop of varying shades of blue. Contributing to a certain luminosity enframed within the canvas, dynamic strokes of red and yellow paint trial across its plane, playing to the rhythmic and textural qualities of the work. Similarly, in Flowa Powa 4 (2020), motifs of pink flowers accompanied by foliage are set against a blue backdrop, interspersed with orange and pink paint strokes. Here, the apparent boundaries of the imprint introduced a grid-like pattern to certain parts of the canvas, compelling viewers to negotiate the tension between this sense of order and the liberated strokes of paint.
Through Flowa Powa, des Monstiers probes at the canvases’ fundamental surface qualities, inviting viewers to contemplate what he considers as analogous to the skin of paintings.
Flowa Powa will be on view at Cuturi Gallery from 7 to 22 Jan 2021.