Daniel Arsham: For this artist, Star Wars and archaeological digs go hand in hand culture

Daniel Arsham: For this artist, Star Wars and archaeological digs go hand in hand  culture

At 43 years old, Daniel Arsham is undoubtedly one of the most prolific and in-demand artists on the planet. He studied at the College of Architecture and Design in New York City on a scholarship before returning to Miami. There, he helped create a gallery space called “Home,” one of the most important group projects the city has ever seen.

There doesn’t seem to be anything Arsham can resist: he has embraced painting, sculpture, architecture and film, while collaborating with dozens of brands. In a world whose tastes are constantly changing, he manages to become the center of attention through the unique concept that runs through his work. His most famous works – Venus of Arles – It can transform from a 2nd century sculpture into a bronze piece, or from C-3PO into a bust found in an archaeological excavation.

“I first thought about the concept of fantasy archeology about 16 years ago, after I returned from Easter Island. (When I looked at the giant statues) emerging from the ground, it made me think about archaeology, and about how we relate to the past through objects,” he explains to EL PAÍS via video call. He is opening his latest exhibition at the Perrotin Art Gallery in Paris. It is his forever home. , thanks to his friendship with the legendary French art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin.

“Erosion of Calcite Blue Bacchus Richelieu” (2023)Leah Crespi

“Our entire narrative flows through things, so I thought about what would happen if I could reverse engineer it with that concept in mind. (I’m trying to create) something that you can directly relate to a moment in time. That’s why I’m using computers or cameras or entire cars in this Project, because it means something at a particular moment in time.

When asked if he would continue this concept throughout his career, he smiled. “It’s hard to say whether this will follow me throughout my life, because it depends on where I go, what I (explore) or what I do… but I think I have a good intuition about when I’ve run out of something,” he explains. The concept of fantasy archeology is very familiar to me,” he said, referring to his project. He has already toured the world with it several times.

On August 24, 1992, Arsham witnessed Hurricane Andrew pass through Miami, where he was living at the time. The terrible experience deeply affected his work. The Arsham family survived in a shelter built under the house itself. While the insurance payment eventually allowed them to rebuild their home, the artist was never able to forget the trauma.

“C-3PO – Crystallized Quartz Bust” (2023).Leah Crespi

He even reproduced what happened on film showing a house very similar to his own. “I saw how a tornado destroyed my childhood home in one fell swoop. (Normally), when you’re a kid, you understand space in a different way. “You think less about how you build (the house) and more about how it feels. What happened to me was a process that allowed me to see the walls and see how everything was designed. I think the pictures I took after that were my first attempt to understand life through a medium. The way Arsham makes things – not just visually, but also with the materials he uses, like lava or glass – has a lot to do with that moment.

The artist at the Perrotin Gallery in Paris with his work “Sublime Cenote, Rhône” (2023).Leah Crespi

Arsham’s parents, coming from the world of banking and law, far from art, followed the advice of one of their son’s teachers, who saw young Daniel’s drawings as little more than scribbles. Despite his talent, his attempt to study architecture was unsuccessful. “They didn’t accept me (into the program), so I went to art school. I studied sculpture, drawing and film, without particularly focusing on any of them… although I settled on painting. (But later), I did (sculpture) more than anything else.

When the Cleveland-born artist is asked if he remembers exactly when he decided to enter the art world, Arsham doesn’t have to think much about it. “As children, we love to draw and we spend the day doing it. Later, we forget… But drawing is something organic for all of us. At the age of 11, I decided that this was something I loved. It also helped that my grandfather was an amateur photographer, and thanks to him I realized that everything It depends on the point of view from which we hold the camera. Everything passes through us, the camera is just a tool.

“In the end, artists are alchemists: we transform what we see,” Arsham shrugs. He admits that popular culture has a major influence on his work. “I work with this idea of ​​archaeological imagination. To achieve this, I need to develop objects that are part contemporary art and part recognizable face. Examples of this are his works based on iconography star Wars or back to the future, Modern classics that populate the American artist’s works.

Sculpture “Venus of Arles Compact” (2023).Leah Crespi

It doesn’t seem like he has to worry about success: he’s made films with Juliette Lewis and Mahershala Ali. He has founded his own architecture studio, Snarkitecture, and collaborates with other firms in the same field on major projects. He has transformed Arsham’s studio into one of the great global references for contemporary art, a multimillion-dollar business that sets the course, rather than merely follows it. Under the umbrella of his studio, he has collaborated with popular brands such as Pokémon, Heinz, Dior, Porsche, and Disney.

Among those who desire exclusivity, Arsham is now one of the most sought-after names. Adored by artists such as Usher, Pharrell Williams, Kim Jones or Jay-Z and sought after by galleries and museums around the world, the artist warns that his world is no place for the faint of spirit, the pessimists or anyone who is easily frightened. . “For people who reach out to me for advice, I always repeat the same thing: 99% won’t work out. I’ve literally lived in my studio for a long time. So, you have to get lucky, but you don’t have to give up either. It can take a long time until You see the results of your work getting you somewhere. So, if you decide to devote yourself to (art), my advice is to be patient and never give up. However, there are no guarantees that you can achieve it.

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