An Interview

( created by Mr. Sam Woo-Han & Mrs. Annie Bodie )

S&A : Mr. David Duchamp, first of all, hello !

Hello to you both.

S&A : To start, it's hard to place you. What artistic trend could you be identified with ?

I consider myself an iconoclastic and dissenting visual artist, but some have referred to me as an enlightened theoretician, and sometimes, because of the character of my artworks, as a pirate artist.

Some call me a free electron... that satisfies me and suits me well.

I also feel that I take over from movements such as « The Incoherents » [1] or « Présence Panchounette » [2] ...

And since I am against « Anti-art » [3] such as « Dada » or « Fluxus » , I could be the inventor of a new movement that I will call : « Anti anti-Art » [4] !

So, I leave you the choice : « Protest art », « Pirate art », « Incoherent art », « Anti anti-art ».

S&A : Besides painting and sculpture, what are your other skills ?

Since my childhood I have been passionate about art, but I am also a poet, singer, photographer, chess player, billiard player, music lover, cineaste, electronics engineer.

I am also interested in all sciences in general (physics, chemistry, optics, medicine, etc.)

S&A : You have lived for 30 years all over Europe. How have these voyages benefited you ?

They have allowed me to be open to other peoples and cultures, and to better understand humanity as a whole;  I have discovered as much beauty as ugliness there. 

My favorite places are those where I have encountered the greatest degree of open-mindedness : Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​London, Copenhagen, Bucharest, ...

S&A : You call yourself a contemporary artist, and yet you continually denigrate contemporary art. Why ?

I have long studied contemporary art in all its forms, in order to both  better understand it and to be able to deconstruct it, by proving that I can do much worse, the same, or much better !

S&A : Yet you, like all other artists, are looking for recognition and glory !

Here you have it all wrong !
The artist is not important, the only thing that matters is the artwork he leaves behind him !

S&A : Do you mean you do not have an ego ?

I trample the egos who lead to self-absorbed art and I affirm I DO NOT have a super-ego !

S&A : So what makes you different from other artists ?

To start, I only use quality materials, the most noble and the most durable : linen canvas, fine or extra-fine paints, 24 karat GOLD (and not 23.75), etc.

Next I always try to create artworks that haven't been done by other artists in the past ... Very difficult but not impossible !

Moreover, I want them to be meaningful and beautiful to look at.

S&A : What do you mean by « meaningful » ?

Since the 1980s, contemporary art has become pretentious, devoid of emotions and meaningless.

Yet I think that art must above all provoke strong and positive emotions in the viewer : laughter, joy, sadness, compassion, daydreams, etc.

The art that triggers nothing is not art !

And since each of my artworks has a story, I give them each a subtitle, most importantly a coherent and understandable explanation.

So my ultimate goal, without pretense, is to return meaning to art !

S&A : So, who do you consider to be your artist masters?

The list would be much too long and boring to read ! (laughs)
However, I can mention a few who have impressed my retinal memory :

The classics : Leonardo da Vinci, Michel-Ange, Raphaël, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Renoir, Courbet, Vermeer, Botticelli, Géricault, Rodin, ...

The moderns : Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Gaudí, Egon Schiele, Munch, ...

The contemporaries : Miró, Mondrian, Brâncuși, Vasarely, Calder, Klein, ...

But above all, the surrealists : Dalí et Magritte, or the naïves like the postman Cheval !

What effort went into their artworks ! What strength and energy ! What generosity and sincerity !!

S&A : So how would you define what qualifies an artist as contemporary ?

In my opinion, a true artist must :

  • Live for the sake of art

  • Work with his hands

  • Be sincere

  • Be beauty oriented
  • Produce intelligent artworks that make sense

  • Exalt the spectator and overwhelm him with emotions

  • Eschew fashion
  • To be in constant contradiction, including with himself

  • Be able to spend days, weeks, or months of effort on one piece !

  • Never be satisfied with his artworks, and consider them to be never finished ...

S&A : What inspires you to be so creative ?

Everything inspires me : life, love, sex, nature, human comedy, science and technology, and so on.

Some of my artworks also present what concerns me the most : the protection of animals, human overpopulation, global warming, the defense of minorities.

S&A : Why did you wait so long before you started ?

I had to wait patiently for the right time, so that people could finally understand my work. 

Fortunately, I noticed that this change began in 2015 with Saatchi, Templon, Cadot, etc., who are great judges of contemporary art. 

S&A : What is your relationship with Marcel Duchamp ?

As child I read magazines on the paranormal that my mother subscribed to, which certainly developed my hyper-sensitivity to this kind of thing. I believe in the phenomenon of possession and I am a living proof of it.

Indeed, in 2005 I lost my mother and my grandmother, and a few months later, while I was in a state of extreme psychological weakness, I felt a spirit gently invade me.

When he revealed his name to me, I did not want to admit : it was Marcel Duchamp !

Since that day, he cohabits with me, but I affirm absolutely that all my creations are the fruit of my own ideas, even if sometimes I allow him to participate.

S&A : Could you ask him ...

Stop, I'll stop you right there, it's impossible !

If it is about having intimate tidbits about his private life, I will not say anything out of respect (and especially because if I did that, he would come and harass me every night).

But then, most of the time he is the one who decides to intervene, to speak to me, and to give me his opinions and his ideas, while I work on my pieces and also sometimes in my sleep.

This happens often when we are alone together, but happily, he leaves me alone the rest of the time !

S&A : Why do you have so few artworks for sale ?

First, because I have given many away (especially to those who have modeled for me), I sold some, and I have left some as gifts where I have lived ...

Then, because in 2016, I lost all of my belongings during a move.

The hardest thing to accept was that my memories had gone up in smoke !
My mother had carefully kept some drawings and documents from my youth, and thanks to the Internet I was able to find certain photos, but I still had to recreate all of my artworks.

Two years later, after a long period of depression, I finally got down to work.

S&A : So, since you had to redo everything, is this when you chose to sign using the pseudonym « Duchamp » and why ?

Indeed, I had previously signed my artworks under pseudonyms different from my name.

But in 2018, when Marcel, as usual, inundated me with advice during my work, I threatened him :

« if you keep tormenting me like this, Duchamp will be my signature ! »

To which he replied : « I dare you ! »

Thus I decided to take up the challenge, and have adopted it as my definitive artist's name !

That's only fair : why should I suffer the inconvenience of this possession without deriving any benefit ?

S&A : Where did your obsession for the color pink come from ?

Because it's the complementary color of black which I sometimes use as a background and which represents the absence of colors, the non-desire, death ...

Indeed, rose is the eros, and « Eros c'est la vie » (Eros is life) !

S&A : One last word to close ?

A medical warning for viewers :

My artworks are likely to provoke violent contortions of laughter, mirthful convulsive urinary leaks, exaggerated dual eye bulging, or intellectual transit blockage (especially among aficionados of the current artistic trends).

« That's all folks ! »

Notes and references

1. The incoherents : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incoherents

2. Présence Panchounette : fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Présence_Panchounette , (Manifeste)

3. Anti-art : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-art

4. Although this expression was used by one of the founders of « Stuckism » , they did not create a movement with that name.

* This imaginary interview assembles all the questions people have asked me during my career.