French artist Eric Decastro is known for his large-sized paintings that he constructs using the dripping technique. He is focused on creating a balance of color and light by applying thick impasto into canvas. Since 2008, Decastro has been running an art space Kunstraum Dreieich | Artspace Frankfurt in Germany that promotes artists with the motto of welcoming them back. The artist himself has a solo exhibition A Whiter Shade of Pale, Level 2 in New York City at The Bronx Art Space, until April 30. Decastro is also showing as part of the DOPPELGÄNGER -exhibition, which is currently at Torrance Art Museum in California, and runs until May 28. The group show is a dialogue between German and US artists, and is curated by Dr. Julia-Constance Dissel and Sandra Mann from Germany together with Los Angeles-based curators Ichiro Irie and Max Presneill. The exhibition explores similarities of practices within globally expansive and hyper-connected art production.
In the solo exhibition at the Bronx Art Space, the visitor encounters a poetic cosmos, ‘which is intentionally designed to allow the illusion of landscapes or outer spaces.’ The theme of the Whiter Shade of Pale, Level 2 -exhibition is to explore issues of fugacity.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How did you decide to become a painter?
EricD: I already knew as a child that I wanted to be an artist. When I was 5 years old I was able to paint in my mothers atelier. It was something I was destined to do and I finally fulfilled my dream.
So what did you learn from your mother, who is the painter Mirei de Castro? How about your other influencers?
EricD: I learned the basics from my mother. Painters like Richard Poussette Dart, Lee Krasner but also Cecily Brown, Fabienne Verdier, Paul Rebeyrolle, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke, have all also influenced me.
There is installation and performance development mixed with your paintings. In one installation you used, or it looks like, fake grass in the gallery as part of the show?
EricD: The installation Prevenue d’avance (Warned in advance) from the performance artist Mike Hentz (USA) and myself at a Kunstverein near Heidelberg 2012 has been furthering me a lot. Through Mike I was able to get a perspective for what one can call art. The lawn was actually real and has been tended and watered for a week in Kunstraum-Dreieich. After the event, it was fully removed. Then, the over dimensional “Dejeuner sur l’herbe” was a parody of the famous works of Edouard Manet.
You have also painted tsunami?
EricD: After the Fukushima Tsunami, I did a complete series of works that looked like aerial shots of Tsunamis.
Some of the dripping technique paintings come out with natural confrontations, what do you see yourself in the works, are there reoccurring themes that come out?
EricD: One topic has been on my heart since 2008. My near death experiences have been both positive and negative for me, and I’ve been trying to depict this experience on canvases through a dripping technique in a meditative state. That’s how those paintings mostly have been created.
A really interesting one is the point when you washed some of the acrylic painting out of the canvas, and went on the real action forward method of making art. Tell about the work, in which the canvas and you are hanging from the tree?
EricD: This artwork was actually not created in the woods. I was walking with my dogs and saw this tree who looked like it could be a perfect frame for a canvas. I called a good friend of mine, a renowned Art-photographer Sandra Mann. We decided to do a photoshoot with one of my green paintings and put it in the natural frame of the tree.
How does the performance aspect work with the painting, are they part of the same discipline for you?
EricD: Of course the performance on a canvas in a natural state is my art. The work is being created, the performance oftentimes is the beginning of an idea that develops through painting.
For example, in “suffocating performance” the artist wrapped cellophane around his head to represent a type of suffocation. He was filmed and was also supervised (Don’t try at home). Afterwards I painted his performance “Suffocating Performance” for the exhibition “CARNAL DESIRE” in Museum Villa Rot. The other artists were Wim Delevoye, Hermann Nitsch, and Fischli and Weiss. It’s a hommage to a boy from Kosovo who was suffocated and skewed and grilled all while his father was watching. I tried to depict the cruelty of this war.
Then, few questions about identity, how do you criss-cross between different countries, locations, and even continents?
EricD: I’ve been traveling my whole life. I really enjoy it and have been able to visit over 110 countries in this world. I’m getting my inspiration and positive energy from exceptional places. In the next time I’ll be traveling to Tibet, Nepal, Buthan and North India.
You have recently been exhibiting in Peru, and one of your galleries is in France, how are these art cultures different from each other?
My gallerist Mathias Bloch from Gallery Younique is French and my last exhibition was in “Alliance Française de Lima” so it was a home match for me as a French man myself. My abstract art is established in South America. A subsidiary of Coca-Cola (Inca-Cola) has recently bought one of my works.
You must feel that you are dealing with a variety of roles, a gallerist being one, and then a painter, is there a difference that is significant?
EricD: I’m not a traditional gallerist. I don’t participate in the art fairs. Kunstraum Dreieich is an Artspace with the motto “Rendes-Vous des Artistes.” It’s supposed to be an opportunity for artists to be displayed in the circles of art collectors that I have tended. This concept works well in Europe and especially in a city like Frankfurt the art will sell really quickly.
Art world is a phenomenon for its own sake yet many artists are involved in societal practice, mending the world so to speak. What do you wish to say about that?
EricD: Jonathan Meese said at Art-Basel in Miami in 2012 „Art is the new currency.“ He’s right, art is seen more like an investment nowadays. Never have people previously in history spent so much money on art as it is done today. Independently from whatever the artist wanted to reach with his art, whether a political message, improving the world, to amuse someone or as a wakeup call, art is and will be a good that can be traded in stock. Most buyers, buy art because they have a mindset to leverage the art.
As April is the Earth Month, could you say something about, how does art and preserving our planet correlate, or meet thematically?
EricD: To preserve the planet and to make it better for our children is more vital than to collect art and display it in museums. What kind of benefit comes from a world that has been destroyed when museums are full of artworks, and there are no humans to enjoy the art, because then all of humankind will be too busy to focus on survival than to look at art. Politics don’t react to the signs of mother earth, the glaciers have been melting, global warming is unstoppable, and still there is no change of mind or thinking. One should replace the democracy through Geniocracy.
Tell a little bit about the project in Nepal, how long has it been in progress, and how did it start?
EricD: My wife is buddhist, and through her Master Lopen Tensing Namdak Rinpoche we got the idea to build a boarding school for children from Nepal in Tibet through fundraising and even some profit from selling my paintings. Since then it was possible to finance the first step of the project. We have already built a hospice in Katmandu in 2012. I myself volunteer as a hospice worker in a hospice in Frankfurt for about 4 years now. The experiences I have made there have helped me to stay grounded and to be confronted with the topic of death and what happens after death. This has been something I have been processing for years.
Eric Decastro online:
Artist website: http://www.decastro-art.net/
Artspace Frankfurt: http://www.kunstraum-dreieich.de/
A Whiter Shade of Pale – Level 2 -solo exhibition at the Bronx Art Space, until April 30, 2016
DOPPELGÄNGER, at Torrence Art Museum, until May 28, 2016