Interview with French artist Hugo Capron, Exhibition Running through 8/29 at the Pollock Gallery

As part of a new fellowship program between SMU and École Nationale Supérieure d’Art (ENSA) in Dijon, France, French artist and student Hugo Capron is exhibiting his work at SMU’s Pollock Gallery from August 10-29. 

We were able to interview Hugo about his art and his experience in Dallas thus far.

How would you describe your art?

I’m a painter. I like to work in the place where the show is. For example, for the exhibition in the Pollock Gallery, I used that space as a studio for a few weeks. My canvases are site-specific, sized, and built (the structure, the painting…) in the gallery. My work is maybe more an installation, a reaction to a space, more than just some canvas. That’s also why each canvas is untitled. There is a title for the show only.

I like to make some quiet and minimalist paintings, working with very sensitive variations, who will question the spectator look. By that, I mean how we look [at] the world around us, how we look [at] an exhibition space, and how we feel it and how we move in that space.

I guess, I know my canvases are in the show, but for someone who doesn’t know that, it could be sometimes invisible.

We sometimes don’t really look around us, and I’m interested in that!

Also, I’m interested in the questions “What is a painting today?” and “What is a tableau?”

My research is focused on public space and its relationship to painting. I’m also interested in architecture and abstraction. I’ve been particularly influenced by Japanese approaches to space and by the dérive, a notion described by the French theorist Guy Debord and the Situationists as an unplanned journey through urban space.

What/who has influenced your art most?

I’m influenced by the paintings marks that I find in urban space during my drifts: Graffiti buffering, construction spotting with spray… All these marks are for me an unlimited catalog of gesture, compositions, colors… It’s a kind of painting that has been not made to be art. By marks, I am talking about the painting’s marks/tracts I find in the urban spaces.

Like a graffiti buffering…

An example of graffiti buffering. Image via Hugo Capron.

That’s kind of paintings who have been made without art wish.

But they are sometimes more interesting, for their composition, colors, shapes… than any canvas.

One more time, how we look at the urban spaces and the places we “know”.

That’s not worse or better, just a different look.

The American people have a different look on my canvas, because the painting as a main medium isn’t an important question for them. So we talk about the painting, not about the question of the tableau.

I’m also influenced by the music that I continually listen to.

I especially like radical painters, from Joseph Marioni to Olivier Mosset.

I also like Lee Ufan paintings, and his resonance approach.

There is a new generation of painters that I also watch a lot, like David Ostrowski and Jonathan Binet.

What have you gained so far from your experience in Dallas/Texas?

I’ve gained in Dallas a different look on my work. In Europe, the choice of painting as a main media in a constant question. Here, people are more interested about what I paint than why I paint. That’s not worse or better, just a different look.

That’s very interesting for me, because the discussions about my works are made of different questions.

Also, I walked during the night in Dallas, because of the temperature (hotter than France).

The only things I can see during the night, are the difference between the gloss and the flat paintings, and the shiny colors like the silver chrome. That’s also why we called the exhibition “Midnight white” with Melissa Tran, who also exhibits her works at the [Pollock] Gallery now.

What are some of the biggest differences you’ve noticed about the art world in Dijon vs. Dallas?

I guess, the main difference between Dijon and Dallas, and especially between France and USA is the painting omnipresence in the museums. The contemporary art scene in Europe is now also focused on video, performance… and there are fewer paintings in the museums. It’s great for me to see all these paintings exhibitions in USA (Shiraga and Motonaga at the DMA the last month, Clyfford Still museum in Denver…)

What have been some interesting materials you’ve found at Hamon?

I waited [for] the exhibition start, to spend time in the library. The first weeks were busy!

I found some American painters books that I have never seen before.

And some reproductions that I’ve never seen too.

I plan to spend more time in the library now!

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