Interview questions from design student Quinton Delcourt
Quinton Delcourt is a design student from France who is taking a six-month course in Berlin. As part of his assignments, Quinton interviewed a local artist.
Quinton Delcourt: Where are you from?
Adrian Pocobelli: I’m from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which is in Canada’s midwest. After that I moved to Montreal for eight years, and then I lived in Toronto for four years before moving to Berlin.
QD: What was your first job? What did that bring to you?
AP: My first job was working in a comic store. I spent so much time there they finally just gave me a job. I spent a lot of my early teenage years just staring at comic covers in my bedroom — I would lay them all out in a row and just stare at them. Then I would rearrange them and stare at them some more. This had a big impact on me — I consider some comic covers to be as interesting as many modern paintings. The covers were very important to comics — as Stan Lee said, 90% of sales in the 1960s were based on the cover.
QD: How did you know you were going to make art?
AP: I visited the Vatican when I was 6 years old and during the trip I started collecting postcards of old Roman mosaics of birds, the kind you might find in Ravenna. That was the first thing I ever collected. I just loved to stare at them. I kind of knew then that this is where I would focus.
QD: When did you start making art?
AP: Since I was a kid — once in a while I would copy a Leonardo landscape, for example, at a pretty young age. For a few years when I was a teenager I wanted to become a comic artist, but I always kind of knew I wanted to do something visually poetic, so I gravitated back to visual art.
QD: How are you working? What are your inspirations?
AP: I generally make compositions using drawing apps on my phone, and then I find ways of reproducing the work in the physical world — often I’ll print on canvas or paper and paint on top of it with acrylic paint.
My main inspirations are writers, J.G. Ballard, the great British Surrealist writer who wrote Crash, and Terence McKenna, who I consider to be one of the most imaginative philosophers of the 20th century, even though he gets very little respect from academia. As far as artists are concerned, I quite like Richard Prince’s recent work, and David Hockney is always interesting.
QD: When and why did you move to Berlin?
AP: I went to Berlin to pursue my artistic vocation. In Canada it’s very difficult if you don’t go to the right art schools — maybe that’s true everywhere. I’ve had a few solo shows at project spaces since I moved here three years ago, so the city has been good to me.
QD: What are the advantages in Berlin for art ?
AP: There’s an active community of people who are enthusiastic about art here — most of them artists — and you get some world class contemporary art galleries here — all with fairly affordable rent, although that’s changing all the time. I consider Berlin the last affordable art capital in the Western world, which is why I’m here. I’m also a fan of German electronic music, which had a big influence on me when I was younger. I appreciate the German spirit.
QD: What is the message in your art?
AP: I’m trying to do visual philosophy when I make art. In a sense, the last thing I’m interested in is drawing from a model or painting an outdoor landscape. My biggest concern is juxtaposing iconography from our shared visual vocabulary. I believe that associating visual ideas that are far apart can produce new ways of thinking and give bigger perspectives on reality. In a sense, it’s in the Surrealist tradition, based on Lautreamont, of fusing two opposite realities in a new context, but pushed further.
QD: I see you use nearly the same color palette, but I see an evolution in your work. Can you talk to me about that?
AP: I’m very intuitive when it comes to colour. I’ve been told I mix a lot of hot and cool colours, which I find a little bit amusing. I don’t even think about colour in those terms. I think my use of colour is one of the things that makes me most unique — I also think a bit of my Italian heritage comes out in my palette. It’s all intuitive.
QD: Moreover you play with typography, different sentences or mathematical formulas. Can you talk about that also?
AP: Yes, this is an example of the visual philosophy that I was talking about. The Surrealists took the content of external reality and mixed and matched it in unusual and inspired ways, while often distorting the scale. I’m applying this logic to the screen, mixing words, images and number — math, symbolic logic, computer code, etc. — every signification system that I can think of — and juxtaposing them.
QD: Do you have any other things you want to tell me?
AP: I believe it’s important to focus on the things that make you and your imagination unique. In other words, embrace your uniqueness and sail full speed into your imagination.
QD: Thank you so much!