Artsper : Could you explain the concepts of Art Absolument and its collection to us?
Teddy Tibi : Created in 2002, the aim of the Art Absolument (Absolutely Art) review is to create a link between contemporary and past art by focusing particularly on contemporary artists living in France. I stress that it’s a review, not a magazine: this allows us to make varied choices which we can then offer to our readers, without us being obliged to stick slavishly to current events. We also talk about big exhibitions in Paris and elsewhere with interviews and in-depth features on a particular artist. Literature also plays a significant role and is not left out of the review.
With regards to the collection, we asked artists who we’ve supported for several years to create works of art specially for Art Absolument. The only conditions we imposed on the artists were the format, the number of copies produced and the single price point. This collection is important because it allows new collectors to acquire a work of art by a significant contemporary artist at a reasonable price. Philippe Cognée was the first to present us with a work of art in 2013, followed by Ernest Pignon-Ernest and Barthélémy Toguo, before other artists also joined in.
A : When you talk about Art Absolument, you say that you want to explore the world of art which is “off the beaten track”. Could you explain what type of content you like to showcase?
TT : It’s an editorial choice. We believe that there’s a need for complementary points of view to show the different walks of life of the artists we present to our readers. What we want to show is our freedom of choice and the artists we consider to be interesting, varied, with a real and coherent approach - an aesthetic which one may or may not appreciate, but which remains substantial.
A : What are your criteria for choosing artists to create a varied collection?
TT : The collection isn’t intended to be thematic but to show off the unique nature of each artist. We have a real and close relationship with each of them. For example, Ernest Pignon-Ernest was featured in the first edition of the magazine in 2002. The artists featured in this collection are artists about whom we’ve already published articles and features in the magazine and who seem to us to be essential within the current contemporary landscape. They’re people who we’ve supported over the years because we believe that their work contributes something to the current cultural scene.
A : You’ve recently added a work of art by Ayman Baalbaki to your collection. Could you tell us how you met him and why you chose his work?
TT : We met at theTrait-d’Union, Paris et l’art contemporain arabe (Hyphen, Paris and Contemporary Arabic Art) exhibition in Villa Emerige in 2011. Ayman Baalbaki was one of the 13 featured artists. Although his work is very well-known in Lebanon, it’s much less well-known here - but it deserves to be recognised for what it’s worth: so we asked him to add his work to our collection.
His artwork is very contemporary: a sharp depiction of a sad reality. He does this through material paintings with urban ruins - also found in the lithography which he created for the collection - but also with his installations. His frank view of the world speaks to us, touches us.
A : The artist’s life has strongly influenced his art. Could you tell us about his past so that we can better understand his work?
TT : Ayman Baalbaki is Lebanese and was born in 1975. His childhood was scarred by war. His work mainly focuses on the conflicts which still exist in this part of the world. In his work, he manages to go beyond the current nature of these conflicts, playing on the anonymity of both victims and executioners. It must be remembered that this very strong view which he offers us is a deeply human view of the world, based on his experiences.
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