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Pascale Marthine Tayou – An Explorer of Forms

Sep 30, 2018

As part of KANAL POMPIDOU’s inaugural exhibition, Pascale Marthine Tayou answered TL Mag’s questions.

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Text by Blaire Dessent

Working as he lives, travelling, exploring, encountering and experimenting, Pascale Marthine Tayou has developed a comprehensive and truly multifaceted body of work over the past two decades that is reflective of his connections to Africa, where he grew up, but also of a more global vision – investigating man’s place within nature and the world in general. Marthine Tayou brings an intuitive approach to everyday materials, transforming such objects as plastic bags, enamelled pots, tree branches or chalk into immersive installations and colourful, dynamic, and engaging art that captivates our imagination and makes us question our own place on this earth.

TLmagazine: The variety of materials you use is quite profound and diverse – is there a material that you don’t get tired of using – that still gets you charged about making a piece with it? Are there any new materials that you are excited to work with lately?
Pascale Marthine Tayou: The Human

TLmag: Your work, and particularly the large installations, escapes all categories – with elements of visual, design, performance, cultural, environmental – all working together in this flow. Would you talk about that briefly?
PMT: Carving in the flesh of things is a game that I love and love to share.
I am an explorer of forms, I go forward and sometimes I go back, I dream that one day all roads lead me to the essential.

TLmag: In some of your work there is an aspect of ‘horror vacui’, in the sense of seeing and experiencing this accumulation of pieces and imagery that fill a space or surface. Would you agree? What is behind that intention?
PMT: To live is to accumulate and…
To accumulate is to live,
I accumulate so I exist.

TLmag: You have worked a lot with handcrafted materials and artisans over the years—how important is this connection to the hand-made in your work—the connection between maker and material?
PMT: I am looking for a simple, deep and banal gesture.
In search of the stripped posture indeed.
Isn’t spontaneity the perfume of sincere emotion?

TLmag: How has the art scene in Cameroon, where you grew up, changed over the last couple of decades?  Are there more opportunities now for young artists or more of an encouragement and support?
PMT: For the virtues of encouragement or support to not become servile to the creator, he must avoid creative help as much as possible before it turns into harmful mental or intellectual corruption because the creation as an expression of personal commitment is a necessary vaccine for any moving society. Cameroon from yesterday to today will certainly be even better tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but with each context its own realities isn’t it?

Pascale Marthine Tayou
Pascale Marthine Tayou, Open Wall, 2010, neon signs, cable, exhibition view at KANAL POMPIDOU, Brussels, 2018
Pascale Marthine Tayou, Colonne Pascale, 2011, Chinese vases, h540cm, exhibition view Beijing Online Inline 10 Hands 100 Fingers, Galleria Continua, Beijing, 2011
Pascale Marthine Tayou, Plastic Tree, 2014-2015, branches, plastic bag, variable dimensions, installation view, Art Basel Unlimited, 2015
Pascale Marthine Tayou, L'arbre à palabres, 2012, plastic container, metal and cement, h900cm ø300cm
Pascale Marthine Tayou, Douces épines, 2015, wood, space dimensions, courtesy of VNH Gallery ADAGP, Paris
Pascale Marthine Tayou, Boule(s) de Cocagne, 2015, iron, balls, inflatable pool, foodstuffs, h6 x ø8m, exhibition view Nutrimenti dell'Arte: l'albedo della Cuccagna, San Gimignano, IT, 2015

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