THE KID is a half-Dutch, half-Brazilian contemporary artist whose work is dedicated to questioning and delving into notions of social determinism, as well as the relationship between innocence and corruption. With his keen interest in human behaviour combined with his intricate eye for detail, the results are truly fascinating. Ahead of his exhibitions over the next couple of months, IDOL caught up with THE KID for an exclusive interview:
Who is “THE KID”?
I’ve always felt compelled to draw, paint and sculpt things to create my own world to escape in, as far as I can remember even as a child. And already at that time, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do. I hated school; I couldn’t deal with its small-minded authority and its cookie-cutter way-of-thinking. I did not fit the mold, what generated a lot of struggle for me. But, in the end, not to fit in was a blessing and still is! So I left home in my early teenage years to travel Europe and America doing multiple creative jobs on the side.
After a few years, I really felt it was becoming vital for me to stop adapting myself to other people’s visions and to put my own vision out there. So for several months I threw myself into creating my first wall-size charcoal and oil- pencil portraits on paper. And as destiny would have it, I met Anouk Le Bourdiec, the young and passionate founder of Galerie ALB in Paris. She believed in my vision and immediately exhibited my first series of works God Is Dead and Humanity Is Overrated. That allowed me to start working full time on my artwork and create the following year my first solo show ENDGAME. A reference both to a situation in chess when the outcome is known and inevitable, which Marcel Duchamp was obsessed with, and to the play of Samuel Beckett, in which the end is announced as of the very beginning. Just like the destiny of most of the young subjects my works are based on. It was at this show, that I presented my first wall-size Bic drawings and life-size silicone sculptures.
What inspires you as an artist?
I’ve always been attracted by this line in The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde : “behind every exquisite thing lies something tragic”. I think this is very much, what all of my works have in common, despite their youth and beauty all of my subjects are doomed to fail, like a flower is destined to fade. And I try to capture them in their defining moment, forever caught between innocence and corruption. Of course, as a teenager, the works of Ron Mueck, the Chapman Brothers or Duane Hanson definitely made a strong impression on me. But what touches me even more is the dark contemporaneity of Caravaggio – he was using prostitutes and thieves to paint the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ and tagging the walls in the streets of Rome with early graffiti like “Nec Metu, Nec Spe” meaning “Without hope, without fear” – or the violent purity of Bernini and also of course counter-culture movies like Over The Edge by Kaplan, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy or Kids by Larry Clark.
Drawing, Painting and Sculpture are the mediums that you focus on predominantly, why is this?
In reality I don’t have a discipline that I prefer over another and I want to keep exploring new mediums in the future. What’s the most important to me is that it’s effective and fits the story I want to tell. And anyway I don’t like to get too comfortable; I need to constantly challenge myself with new techniques and mediums to keep it exciting. I don’t like things that come easy; I want to work for it. I need to feel blood, sweat and tears on my fingertips; it’s like an addiction for me! What I care about is that my work speaks to everyone, from the man in the street to the seasoned collectors. I believe art should be for everyone, just like education and freedom!
Do you feel as if you have mastered your craft? Or is this only the beginning for you?
A lot of my technique always kind of comes in a very instinctive and natural way to me. As I said, I’ve had the chance to be very hands-on drawing, painting and creating things since I was little. And I’ve always been able to see the finished work in my head before I start anything. For me each one of my works is like a very large puzzle, I know what it needs to become. So I start laying down the pieces and of course I encounter difficulties, but I just keep on working until every piece falls into place. And though I cannot stand any form of authority, especially the one that comes with school, I love discovering and researching things by myself, up until the point it becomes an obsession. So if I get stuck, I can spend entire nights searching the Internet and Youtube to find a solution.
Are there any recurring themes within your work?
Although I rarely represent myself, each work is deeply rooted into my personal experience and always comes back to my fears, my hopes and my rebellions against authority and of destiny imposed by society. I want to question the audience about social determinism, the thin frontier between innocence and corruption, the equality of chances, or the fading line between right and wrong in our modern societies. For example, a recurring element in my work like the US Stars and Stripes flag is for me a powerful symbol of the duality between ideal and reality, what makes it the perfect contemporary symbol of the social “Clair-obscure” we are in. Another of my recurring subjects like the newborn baby already marked by the gang tattoos of the family he is born in – of my hyperrealist sculptures As A Flower Chooses Its Color and Too Young To Die? – expresses for me the fight of the young generation for its right to choose its own future.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Still working hard putting my vision out there and making my work always more immersive.
What are your interests outside of art?
I’m into skateboarding… into music of course… The Antwoord, The Thermals, The Velvet Underground, FKA Twigs… indie movies from all eras as I said… actually I always have some movie playing in the background at my art studio while I’m working on one of my new pieces. And I love the 70’s iconic spirit of LA, and I’m a huge motocross fanatic !
Tell us about your most recent work; what messages are you conveying?
I want to surprise people, stop them in their tracks and provoke a debate within the audience, as well as challenge myself and keep things exciting for me too! As for the message, I think the title of my upcoming show at Art Paris end of March says it all: I GO ALONE – Portrait Of A New Lost Generation. I will be presenting exclusively new works unseen before. In particular four of my very first oil and egg tempera paintings on canvas – the largest being almost four meters long, one life-size monumental hyperrealist sculpture in oil- painted platinum silicone and three busts. I’ve created these new pieces over the last twelve months especially for this upcoming show. Not only because all of my previous works now live their own lives in their new “homes” around the world, but first and foremost because, every time I work on a new exhibition, I want to create an immersive experience that triggers emotion and provoke reflection for the viewer. For me art should be about humanity, about society. It needs to reflect its time, to question the public, to spark the debate. Make the people aware, by holding up a mirror to them. And it has probably never been so urgent since the last cultural revolution of the 60’s, don’t you agree?