Marwane Pallas is a photographer of the Digital Era, yet he has always looked at the past: He states: ‘When shooting a picture I take time out of reality, I can substitute a lie, a composition, a digital alteration even a painting in place of Time. I like to refer to my style as pictorial.’ Though inspired by the Renaissance and Baroque, including Rembrandt and Caravaggio, he also looks to the early 20th Century painters, Magritte and Hopper among others, stealing from them, and, in his words, ‘making them meet’. Whilst finding a new love for digital tools, he still sometimes mixes them with the old mistress that is painting, trying to always make his images look painted, whether they are minimalist or large compositions, whether they are referring to 19th Century artistic movements or 20th Century surrealism: ‘when people think “it’s a painting”, it’s the best compliment for the liar I am.’
Pallas is a self-taught artist. He has exhibited at Salon de la Photo, Portes de Versailles (2011); Affordable Art Fair NYC (2013); and Select Art Fair NYC (2014). He came third in the L’Humain,
Zeiss&Compétence photo (2011); was a finalist in the Bourse du Talent #55 Mode, Photographie.com (2013); and won magazine PHOTO/ foundation Goodplanet’s Of Men and Forest competition in 2011.
What is it about the Young Masters project that you are most interested in?
There is a word in French, “passéisme”, it stands for “excessive attachment to the past”. I’ve always been attracted to the old paintings, I wouldn’t call my attachment to the past excessive but it’s true that I always look back. It’s not too long ago that I was a young child dreaming of one day becoming an Archaeologist… then a painter. I’m very small and can only aim high if I stand on the shoulders of Giants, the great names of Renaissance and Baroque painting were my first inspirations. Therefore I’m very eager to see my work exhibited among classic paintings. I’m being told my photographs look as if there were painted, I want to be able to confuse the audience.
Can you explain to us what your work is about?
With my self-portraits I try to define my own approach to digital self-imaging. Something more radical that does not fear hurting. I still question the underlying themes of self-portraiture that are ego, beauty and “self-love”. Some of my work step a little further away from those themes and have their own stories. But what is common to all my work is the presence of a twisted element, something absurd and unsettling, within a very pictorial aesthetic.
Which artist/s are you most inspired by?
It changes. I never study an artist for too long. I usually rapidly get the “big picture” of their work and can move on very rapidly. I still keep them in a special place of my mind for later re-use and mixtures. Artists like Caravaggio for instance aren’t always too far away when I need him.
At the moment, I’m quite obsessed by Oscar Muñoz and Bill Viola, who are being exhibited right now in Paris (Jeu de Paume & Grand Palais). There are the best exhibitions I’ve been to in this city. I’m amazed by, and curious of Oscar Muñoz’ formal inventions. He started with pencils like me, and I keep thinking about trying new media as well.
Can you tell us something about your background?
I’m entirely self-taught, and from a French multicultural working class family. I’m not a professional artist yet. I am seeking opportunities to launch myself fully and spend my entire life making art. I enjoy studying economics though; it helped me become a more conscious citizen. At the moment I’m a post-graduate student in Economics and Management at a prestigious French Grande Ecole and I’m working in a big French bank. I may actually let my résumé slide in between my prints for the exhibition at the Lloyds Club.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I don’t really know. I figured out soon that many artists were sad. There is a form of artistic intelligence that automatically comes with sadness and constant disappointment. So, instead of being uselessly sad and disappointed, why not make art as well?
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
An even more boring than I already am kind of person. That speaks volume of nothingness.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Being shortlisted for the prize isn’t too far away from being my greatest achievement as an artist. But I must also say that being represented by a gallery in NYC (Life As a Work Of Art llc), is a big thing too and I’m very thankful to my agent.
What are your plans for the future?
In the very short term, I definitely want to see my work exhibited in London even though I fear there is a maximum amount of time per year a French man can tolerate being in the UK and I’ve already been there this year (joking of course, lovely country). I want to graduate and see Paris and the other bits of the rest of the world. I want to try new media, that’s for sure, and maybe give another try painting on canvas. It’s been a while. I have no idea where my actual painting style is at the moment