Paris, Sept. 2009: ArtSlant's Georgia Fee visited Lahcen Khedim at his studio in northern Paris where they talked about his new series, his process and small studios. Khedim is an emerging artist whose work has been exhibited in various galleries and art spaces throughout France.
Lahcen Khedim: personal photo (in studio, 2009); Courtesy of the artist
ArtSlant : Can you talk a bit about your process. What are you currently working on?
Lahcen Khedim: I am a rather instinctive painter; I react to what I see, what touches me or shocks me. I am not trying to express an idea but rather an emotional response. I look for a freedom and looseness in my line, shapes, colors. I'm not afraid of an accident on the canvas. I consider my work research. Different materials - ink, pastel, acrylic, charcoal, pencil - keep me engaged. Currently, I am working on large, circular drawings on parchment; really loose and messy. The circular format creates a lot of movement, which I like.
I like the freedom and space of large format work, and I like the conflict between abstract and figurative. I am attracted to line. I guess I am basically a drawer. I like to watch how lines gradually form bodies, gender and faces. I came upon a figurative narrative in my abstract work in a completely instinctive way. Usually I tend towards the female body, and sometimes promiscuity and a certain violence. Often, the body or face are naively or clumsily deformed; the vision of my subject is threatened by the lines, the shapes. Chaotic. I like to imagine that I am painting for the first time. In this spirit, I feel free.
Lahcen Khedim, Faces 2, 2009, acrylique & oil pastel on strengthened paper; Courtesy of the artist
AS: You live in Paris. Were you born here ? What is your relationship with Paris ?
LK: I was born in Montbeliard, a city in eastern France and then lived in Nice. I arrived for the first time in Paris in November, 2000, and settled here permanently in 2001. When I arrived in Paris for the first time, I was immediately attracted by the energy here, the beauty of the city, its cultural breadth and freedom. Now that I'm installed, I have a more objective light on this city. But it inspires me. ..more precisely, the crowd, the people, the promiscuity. In Paris, I love people watching and feeling the energy that emerges from all these people - it can be positive or negative, whatever. It helps me to paint. It is a source of inspiration.
AS : Where else would you like to be?
LK: I lived for a while in Miami and would like to move there. I felt there was plenty of space to occupy - I like that in a city. And to paint, I'd like to work in Berlin, New York, Sydney or Melbourne.
AS : When did you first begin to make art?
LK: I started to paint, consciously and voluntarily, six years ago. But as in all artistic expressions, things were already present without me being aware of them. I met an artist friend when I was in Nice and was fascinated, not only with his work but also with the emotional state that seemed to come with it. He lent me some colors and materials. I started drawing and painting at home, with just the feeling of escape. At the time, I had no idea that this act could become something thoughtful. I learned to paint and draw all alone through observing the world around me. In fact, very quickly I wanted, through drawing or painting, to impose my vision of things. I've taken classes and studied art, but basicaly I am an autodidact.
Lahcen Khedim, Mother and her children, 2009, Oil pastel & acrylique on paper, 50x65 cm; Courtesy of the artist
AS : AS a self-taught painter, I am curious about your influences. What artists have you been attracted to, studied?
LK: I’ve been told my work relates to the "Bad Painting" movement. Basquiat and Schnabel come to mind. Rather than particular artists, I gravitate towards specific paintings: Monet’s water lilies ; The Four Seasons by Eugene Leroy, Bertrand Lavier’s Rue Reaumur; Blue Monochrome by Yves Klein ; Van Gogh’s Self-portrait with yellow beard. Also Pollock and Warhol. In 2005 I met Pierre & Gilles; they were curious about my work and bought a painting! I then worked with them, and saw their world. I enjoyed watching their relationship with photography and painting, the staging, the importance of scenery. I was their model for a portrait for their exhibition in 2005.
AS: What do you listen to?
LK: Music - from classical to electro, jazz. I like silence, too, but it is never really quiet where I live. Right now I am listening to Birdy Nam Nam, a group of four DJ's Parisian virtuosos.
AS: What are some of the most difficult things for you as an artist?
LK: Money, and people’s opinions about my choosing to be an artist. While being confronted with these issues made me uncomfortable early on, now I laugh. Maybe because I have more confidence in my work since it began to sell. The limit caused by my workplace can also be a problem (Lahcen works in a small apartment space in one room). I am always trying to push the walls outward, I have a lot of frustration. But for me the toughest obstacle that I encounter in my life as a painter are the demands that I have to become my own press officer, accountant, director of communications, etc. as well as produce work. I cannot sell my work, not because I do not consider it, but because I am not a trader.
Lahcen Khedim, A Widow, 2009, Oil pastel, acrylic, indian ink, chalk on paper, 50x65 cm.; Courtesy of the artist
AS: What are some of the best things?
LK: Fortunately, there are many. The best thing is the recognition of my work, the understanding of this life that I put on my paintings. Of course, freedom of expression. I experience intimacy in doing my work. Also, a mixture of satisfaction, impatience and sometimes rage. Painting makes me feel alive.
ArtSlant would like to thank Lahcen Khedim for his assistance in making this interview possible.