Making Cities: Artist Profile - Caroline Derveaux-Berté
Caroline Derveaux is a French artist based in London. She has recently graduated an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design. She has lived in Paris, Barcelona, Nanjing, Shanghai and London.
Her work is a reflection of her imaginary world and childhood influences. It deals with memory and unconsciousness through abstract translation. She exorcises her inner landscape and uses art as a therapeutic tool to confront childhood experiences. Her obsession of story-telling and search for meaning led her to interview people, to depict their memories in her work. Her manic style and use of childlike colour helps her to expel her irritative happiness and darkness, and the immeasurable exuberance of it.
Her practice is multi-disciplinary and spread over different forms: painting, drawing, moving image and sculpture.
Not So Popular: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Caroline: I’m a 26 year old artist, and I’ve been living in London for five years. I studied art, so with this academic background I have a sort of fake legitimacy to call myself an artist. I did an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea, and my practice is based on paintings and drawings, but I used to experiment with sculpture, film and moving image too. I’d say at the moment, because I tend to change a lot, I’m mainly finding objects in the street and painting them, or painting directly on walls.
I don’t think I’d consider myself as a graffiti artist, but i’m so interested in doing more murals in the streets. I walk around and everywhere looks so sad - like cars and buildings, in plain colours. So, I feel like I’d love to approach people in their houses and ask if I could do commissioned murals or street art.
NSP: That’s one of the best things about the street in Shoreditch - the art changes every couple of weeks!
C: Definitely, Shoreditch is interesting for that - I’ve assisted an artist in Redchurch Street on a piece called ‘The Circle of Life’. But Shoreditch isn’t necessarily for me. I’d like to do stuff in my own Borough in South London. I painted on my garage door recently and I was so happy to hear people come up to me and say they’d saw it! It’s for the public too - because it’s outside. So residential areas are interesting for me - in Shoreditch, it’s almost too glamourus or saturated. I like the idea that the more artwork you have in the streets, the more people are attracted to the area. you’re contributing to the area almost - and it’s where I live, which I want to be nice for my eyes, you know!
NSP: What are you showing tonight?
C: Tonight I’m showing my latest works, it was important for me to not just show old pieces that I’d already exhibited. I wanted to make it exclusive for Not So Popular, to see how people would respond to the new pieces. Most of the work on display has been done in the last three months. They were all rough and raw, they were unframed or made on found objects. One of them is made on a painting palette and it’s quite thick, I’m not sure if I will ever frame it. I also wanted my work to look laid back to fit in with the event. The hero piece of the event is actually usually framed, and I took it out of the frame to make it look like the rest!
NSP: Why do you work with found objects?
It really broke my heart to see things going in the bin! It all started in 2012, when I was eating pizza at home with my boyfriend on a Sunday and the boxes were just chucked in the bin. And I didn’t consider myself an artist at the time, and I just thought ‘I don’t want those pizza boxes to go anywhere!’. I thought I’d do a painting on them - which are now part of a series of 4 paintings. It’s kind of the biggest part of my drawing career. Usually, I find these objects just around my house, things you might consider useless, and I’m trying to give them a second life.
Other times, I have a real idea that I want to do an artwork on a certain type of object and I will try and source it. I don’t really want to buy the materials - I want to find them, so wood is great but then I also use cardboard. It’s hard because I’m a perfectionist too! I like the idea of doing a drawing on an imperfect surface…
I have so much imagination and vivid colours in my head that I feel like I’m fulfilled through my imagination. But if I had to stick with what I see in the street I’d be absolutely depressed. Like cars for example - I don’t understand why they’re just black or grey or red - the colours are always awful. The orange is sad, the green is dreadful. I’m thinking why don’t we have vivid colours. For me, the public space should be much more playful.
The Southbank Centre, for example, has such interesting colours - suddenly yellow or red on the concrete, and the cool 70s carpet. It seems like people care about having a good time. I want public spaces to not take themselves too seriously, and to take risks and be giving you a visual orgasm!
NSP: Why is colour so important to your practice?
Most of my art is based in childhood memories, that are translated in abstract ways. I’m going ot knock on the door where I used to live [in Paris], a flat I lived in from the age of 4 to 14, and it’s in almost all my dreams. I’m almost obsessed with this room I had - which was yellow, and my sisters room was red. I keep dreaming of the corridor, and going into the bedroom. I’m not sure what it means - I go there to tidy my life.
I’m prepared for it to look and an awful place. I’m not even sure if people are going to be there. Whoever is there will think I’m a weirdo or a burglar. I’m going to try and go back there… just to smell. One of my ideas to go back to Paris is to explore the spaces that must have influenced my art. Everything I do, with the colours, its things I’ve seen in my childhood… like Polly Pockets. I was crying in front of my computer buying this thing off e-Bay, and they had the Polly Pocket I had… I realised those colours are exactly the one’s I use! I want to go more introspective and explore why I do what I do.