An interview with Phillippe Pastor
by Kay Hare
When did you decide to become an artist full time, was it a conscious decision, or was it more of an organic process?
The activity of the artist has imposed itself on me, naturally. Over the years, the creation has taken more and more space in my life, until becoming my main activity. It’s a necessity for me.
When did the environment issues first start turning up in your work?
The environmental theme came to the heart of my work in the 2000s, more precisely in 2003, at the time of forest fires that marked me. I was working at the time in a workshop in the middle of the forest at La Garde Freinet. Unfortunately, the flames got very close to me and the experience has affected me since. By also becoming a victim of arson, discovering, and realising the sad sight of deforestation, I began the series of sculptures titled “The Burnt Trees.” The series was exposed throughout the world and coupled with reforestation campaigns. In particular, the UNEP’s Plant for the Planet campaign, where a large installation is still visible at the Nairobi headquarters.
Are you worried about the future for the planet, or do you think nature will sort itself out?
I’m not worried, but super worried. It’s pretty hopeless. We have already passed a point of no return; how to explain otherwise the immobilism of the governments? Voices are rising, but no concrete solution and no global coalition is really in place. We do not have intellectual leaders of thought movements putting solutions forward to support real change in favor of the environment. It is a dramatic situation at all levels.
What are the main issues your work addresses with the environment? I told you about the sculptures of “Burnt Trees” that I created to denounce deforestation and the responsibility of Man in the face of nature. In my abstract paintings, I address other topics such as sea pollution (“Blue Monochrome”), ice melting (“North Pole”), or climate disruption (“With Time”). In 2009, for the Venice Biennale, I had also conceived the exhibition around the theme of global warming. One of the large central canvases, which I exposed outdoors to subject them to the hazards of the natural elements, was thus called “The Polar Bears slow agony.” Ten years later, nothing has changed, except that the situation has, sadly, worsened.
Do you think people are listening or as an artist is it necessary to explain the work as well?
People are now much more sensitive to the environmental problem, but as long as it does not bother them. It is challenging to make a real change of attitude, especially if it requires people to give up some of the habits of their lifestyle. Everyone, but nobody, is concerned. Mainly since the environmental theme is “used” within the consumer system itself, it is a sales, marketing, and advertising argument. It is appalling.
I am not here to judge. I am a spectator; I see the situation and transcribe my impressions through my works. But nothing changes. I’m not worried about myself, but for future generations, for our children.
What are your aspirations for the new sculptures in Nice?
“The Burnt Trees” speak of deforestation, and in the PACA region, many fires still occur every year. I am happy to have installed them in the Jardin Sosno, in the center of Nice. If my works can touch a few people and raise awareness, I consider that I achieved my goal.
These are complicated pieces to put in place, these installations require a considerable effort, in all the stages of the production. We have already overturned trucks on rough terrain in the forest, for example. The setting up is also dangerous when handling the trunks of 300kg. “The Burnt Trees” are compelling parts to produce and install, but this implication seems vital to me given the gravity of the subject.
(Pictures credits: Christine Cadoni)
Upcoming exhibition :
Is this world serious?
27 Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco
Artist website :
Inspiring international lifestyles based on the French Riviera