Superman showing off his nipples, was the first time I ever saw one of Rnst’s work. Had I known that Clark Kent was a transvestite, my life certainly would have taken a dramatic turn. Thankfully, Rnst’s sense of humour doesn’t just stop there, the strokes of his brushes and stencils showcase a peculiar talent and vision. Bypassing blank, lifeless canvases, he prefers salvaging objects with history to narrate through them stories providing them with a second life - animated by colour and messages. In between streets and galleries, Rnst has forged his identity as an artist where both time and torment has percolated within his art, giving his works a sense of his very own life. If this is not reflected in his works, the melancholy and limitless imagination that will showcased are the second key ingredients to his success. We expect of him to be an artist to watch for in the future...
Jacker / How did you get into street art ? Do you remember your first piece ?
Rnst / It was an epic moment. It was a very late at night and I was coming home from a drunken evening, I had a Polo at the time, I was 18 and had only just got my licence. At the time I wasn’t signing as Rnst, I was Gest then. See, I painted on this shed at the end of a road in the middle of Bourgogne in the countryside in the fog. Looking back, it was horrible - those were my first bombs. And that piece... it’s still there ! And still horrible, I’ve done more stuff and the one that still remains. It was the first and the most horrible, it’s funny.
J / Why stencils ?
R / I’ve always done stenciling, in fact I moved on to graffiti later on. It’s when I got into the Beaux Arts, I met Sinik. And then I saw some graff. Before, I was doing bullshit stuff through stencils, slogans and messages using that kind of thing. Stencils are a good, easy media that allows quick reproduction of graffitis. It’s like screen printing which I also do a lot, it’s rather similar let’s say.
J / Producing stencils must be a tedious job, how much time do you spend on average to make one ?
R / The longest part is the drawing. I do quite a bit of reseach, looking up a lot of images. For instance, for a portrait I’ll look for a nose, eyes and a mouth. I redraw from that, and I’ll redo the drawings until I’m pleased with it. After that, I’ll scan it, vectorise it and will work on the colour layers on illustrator. So then I have my layers ready for my stencils... I test my colours on the illustrator before with the copies, I scan my layers on my background and that allows me to be precise. The cutting in itself never takes more than a day for around 4 colours...intense, right ? It’s all the preparation that takes time, so we avoid any fuck-ups.
J / Do you paint a lot of recycled objects ? Where did that idea come from and how do you find them ?
R / Actually, I grew up in an Emmaus community, I used to dress from stuff of thrift shops in quite a grunge fashion - so I’ve never really had problems with appropriating second hand objects. All of them, even a piece of scrap has a history. It’s precisely that link that interests me. Ever since I’ve started painting with the support of those objects, I like to think I have adopted an approach very much like the streets. It’s really a passion for me, I cannot paint on canvas. I’ve done it but it’s too clean, too smooth, it’s neutral, there’s nothing except what you put on it. I don’t know...I like working with a starting point, and i identify it with that selected object which allows that. I see a life in it, also a certain poetry about it.
J / Where do you find your inspiration ?
R / From current affairs, actually. I don’t like to fall too much in propaganda, even though i do love it, but i don’t want to fall into that category. I mean, I’d like to but too many people are doing it already. I like to think that I put in poetry, that there is a story being told, a theme for example. I work on a song, then I switch to religious topics... There are little subtle details, the seal of the illuminate above the priest, the symbol of the rabbit, it’s Jesus in protestant texts, and the nun, she has an owl in which the shadow is another representation... Anyway. I go deep, but I don’t want to fall into denunciation, it’s not the solution. Still, its not engaged art either, I just bring a reflexion, a poem, let’s say. Like a humanist vision, quote on quote. I like to think that the end product is when people reach their own ideas by just looking at my work, it makes my research feel engaged after all.
J / Thanks for giving us this interview, do you have any upcoming shows ?
R / In September, near Nîmes, there’s a warehouse entirely at my disposition, under the name of « l’expo de ouf », organised by Patate. The last expo was completely mental and so will be this one. We’re really going to bring it, we’ve already really invested in the location and we even have the rights to break down the walls... Like i say, it’s going to be awesome.
We have a big expo with Stf in October in Marseille with Fatpoch at the Espace Julien. That’s really the person with whom all this really sticks well together. It’s him who pushed me to get back into it about three years ago, and hasn’t stopped motivating me since. We’re going to assemble pieces together it will be an installation with lighting sets.