Interview with Alexis Juncosa
A.J.: During a previous interview, you admitted to ‘not wanting to talk about statements about women’. So what is the raison d’être for this series of portraits? What’s your definition of these Foundfaces?
I.M.: Foundfaces is a sampling of portraits of imaginary women. They are contemporary icons drawn from found photographs. Vanity is at the centre of this work. The essence of this approach is for me to work from a preexisting image, from an artifice. On the one hand the artifice creates a distance from the model, giving the drawing a particular atmosphere that is cold and inaccessible. On the other hand, each drawing has a particular expression that’s individual and lively. It’s precisely this ambiguity displayed on the faces that interests me in the Foundfaces.
A.J.: The majority of these portraits are created from images from magazines. What kind of relationship do you have with the world of publishing?
I.M.: The models are photographic models for fashion magazines: my choices range from presentation brochures for collections to classics like Vogue and magazines such as Quest, Pop, Tank, Zoo, Crash, Dealer, Sleek, etc.
A.J.: Minimalism is a complex art form when it comes to sketching a representation. Where do your priorities lie in the choice of features?
I.M.: The facial features of the face evolve through drawing. I always try to simplify and reduce in order to push the drawing towards a certain authenticity. Not in the sense of a literal representation, but of a fantasy that feels right, individual features that work, a potential story. There are rules governing the process: no erasing, no going back over a pencil stroke, no corrections in a process in which the drawing seems to be produced “in a single stroke”. I let myself be surprised by the lines I draw: sometimes my hand seems to follow rather than lead, sometimes it’s the opposite. It’s a concentration exercise rather than an observational one, it’s more physical than rational.
A.J.: One perceives flaws and imperfections in the fluidity of your work. Are they part of your creative process?
I.M.: I use the imperfections in order to create expressive distortions. In certain drawings an isolated stroke might seem crude, but as a whole, the distortion seems to dissolve and disappear. I like exploring these limits.
A.J.: Do you feel you are part of a trend? Do influences inform your work?
I.M.: I feel close to the generation of illustrators and painters who are returning to a form of representation, of narrative, and who combine craft values and current techniques. The influences are numerous and eclectic: the stark line of Aubrey Beardsley interests me as much as Warhol’s portraits in pencil, Hokusai’s woodcuts or Kiyoshi Kuroda’s drawings of animals and plants, but also the series of models and trans-sexuals by Valérie Belin…
A.J.: You work with pencil and paper, but today we can find you in print, and even on the net. Has this change of supports required some compromises in your approach?
I.M.: Printing enables me to approach the exhibition in another way. I love this side of the project; it opens up the studio work and the practice of drawing, which is an individual practice, into an exchange with other creators. As for the site, which presents a new portrait every day, it’s about presenting my work in its temporal dimension. It’s a way of generating a simple day-to-day rapport with art. The change of supports creates an ambiguous relationship between the original and the reproduction. Extending the work by printing it means finding the means of restoring the unique qualities of the original as much as possible. The material qualities – the paper, the pencil, the texture – are particularly difficult to transpose. Other means have to be found, digital ones for example, such as the transformation of the pencil stroke into vector paths which restores the fluidity of the line in a new way, the play with the special printing colours, the supports, the varnish, etc.
A.J.: How are you thinking of extending this piece ?
I.M.: I plan to continue this piece in its everyday aspect, by finding new ways of distribution and presentation. I’m also developing my approach to drawing through other themes. I’d like to see my drawing develop on other supports, from fabrics, integrated into architecture, to stage elements or else showcases. I want to present my work to a wider audience.