In conversation

Frederic Monceau

Photographed by Paolo Reversi

FREDERIC MONCEAU is a Parisian artist. Before he entered the field of photography, he had long been drawn to the world of creative expression. At age 21, he published his first novel. It was only after gaining experience as a writer that he discovered a passion for photography. Following in the footsteps of brilliant photographers, he entered the selective world of international photographers, and he is now considered one of Paris’s most talented photographers of his generation. He has already worked with important publications, namely, Vogue Magazine, GQ Magazine, Lui Magazine, L’Officiel and many others. 
The Curators is pleased to currently host an exclusive collection curated by the artist entitled : Mise à nu

Let's talk about Eros, shall we.

The Curators: With The Curators journal, we wish to pay tribute to the preparatory notebooks of the artists, with their references from all parts and all times (pictorial mnemosyne, literary quotes, contemporary work). The first notebook will have for theme: Eros.
What would be, instinctively, the artistic references that you would think of?

Frederic Monceau: Instinctively, the first three artistic references that come to my mind are three artists : Michaelangelo, Rebecca Horn and Marcel Duchamp. But I could mention so many others such as Salvador Dalì, Danielle Orchard, Rene Groebli, Egon Schiele, etc.

Rebecca Horn, from La Ferdinanda : sonate pour une Villa Médicis, 1981

Michelangelon, Dying Slave, 1516

Egon Schiele, Couple, 1916

Danielle Orchard, Sediment, 2021

The Curators: Why?

Frederic Monceau: Michelangelo simply because I just closed a Taschen book Michelangelo Complete Works and his vision of bodies, shapes and colors goes beyond the realm of genius. Rebecca Horn because I remember that she had an exhibition a few years ago which was magnificent. Her approach to desire through the notions of dreams and memories is captivating - through the metaphor of butterfly and emptiness she speaks of our fantasies. At Beyer Foundation, she presented an empty bed with beautiful blue butterflies hovering over it. Suddenly they begin to move their wings, evoking the dreamlike presence of delight even in the void. The butterflies relate to the figure of old Serafina in Horn’s 1998 film Buster’s Bedroom. In an insane asylum, Serafina was visited by butterflies that reminded her of her dead lovers. And finally, Marcel Duchamp because he is a major artist of the twentieth century and also because “Eroticism” was the theme of a major surrealist exhibition held in 1959. Designed by him and Breton, it was arranged as a journey through a series of feminine spaces - This exhibition showed up in my mind when I thought of Eros theme. 

Marcel Duchamp, Étant donnés, Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas, French: Étant donnés: 1° la chute d'eau / 2° le gaz d'éclairage,1966

The Curators. : What would be your definition of Eros ?

Frederic Monceau : Eros was defined by the oldest known human stories. The definition of Eros goes from an original revolt against the gods to Freudian theory centuries later. Eros is a complex notion that can be understood at different levels (You should ask my friend Oliviero Artioli and you would know everything you need about Eros)

Starting from the idea that Eros represents the desire for creation, I find it interesting today to apply it to a personal and internal dimension.Eros, which is sexual love, the desire to reproduce, which gave the term "erotic". It is a search for the pleasure provided by the union of male and female to procreate. We ultimately consider sexual enjoyment more as a goal, forgetting that it was given to us by nature to better encourage us to perpetuate the species.

This falls within the framework of the life drive which pushes each living species to do everything to survive, preserve and transmit the heritage which is specific to it.Being more and more detached from this notion pushing us to reproduce for the continuity of the species, I think that the idea of ​​desire of Eros is carried more and more towards personal desires. And Eros, in the sense of “love”, is more and more focus on ourselves more than others.

I would say that Eros was a creative desire for us to reproduce in order to survive. Hiding this finality behind the mask of love and human feelings. But Eros changed his goal, no longer seeking the multiplication of human beings but their personal happiness. In my opinion, Eros would therefore be today the representation of self-love.

Anonymous, Oliviero Artioli, 2020

The Curators. : What would be for you an ideal erotic artwork?

Frederic Monceau : I find the creative expansion of Eros and eroticism much more interesting than the sexual aspect of it. The idea of ​​being able to create a desire, the creative process of an idea, asking where it can come from? If we consider that there is a beginning and an end, that we see things linearly. So where do our ideas come from ? And where does this energy pushing us to create come from too ?

The ideal artwork for me is the one that comes as close as possible to the artist's truth. The most honest artwork possible, without worrying about its socio-cultural context. with regard to the works categorized as being erotic, I think that it is necessary that they are not vulgar in order to reach a form of perfection. Because I believe that the message must be transmitted directly and not take detours. Vulgarity creates a hubbub which erases the initial message and distorts the viewer's perception of the artwork.

Frederic Monceaut, Smoking Area, 2019

The Curators. : Is there a book, a film, or a music dealing with Eros that made a particular impression on you ?

Frederic Monceau : From far : Innocents (The Dreamers) of Bernardo Bertolucci with the most perfect cinema love triangle (Michael Pitt, Eva Green and Louis Garrel). I love this adaptation from Gilbert Adair's novel The Holy innocents. Maybe it is because I am a photographer but I always watch movies with special attention to lighting and framing. I remember reading an interview with Bernado Bertolucci in which he said that “In the studio, everything is easy, accessible. No problem with lighting or framing, everything is adaptable, retractable.

When I shoot outdoors, it's impossible, but that's just what I need! Nothing is more stimulating than the natural limits". I think the present moment, with its ease and complexity, brings us to the next moment ...

Wanting to control the present destroys that path. Love the idea of dealing with issues to go somewhere else than where we thought at the beginning. 

Bernardo Bertolocci, The Dreamers, 2003

The Curators. : Is there a gesture, a word, an object, maybe mundane for most people but erotically charged for you?

Frederic Monceau : Definitely a nature McFlurry without any topping and not delivery late by the driver.