French artist Marc Ferrero was in Dubai this month for the opening of his new exhibition, ‘French Kiss,’ L’Officiel Arabia sat down with the artist to discuss the collection, his work with Hublot and his time in the city
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| Photo: Courtesy of Hublot

Emma Hodgson: Welcome to Dubai, we’re really excited to see your ‘French Kiss’ show here in the city. Please could you tell us a little bit about it?

Marc Ferrero: The pieces we decided to exhibit are all based around my Lipstick series. It’s important when you have the ambition to be a great painter, to have a signature painting within your body of work. So, when you speak about Warhol, you think about his Marilyn series, when you speak about Cezanne, you think about Mont Sainte-Victoire, for Picasso, the Cubism Demoiselles d’Avignon. In my body of work, my Lipstick series which I am showing here in Dubai, is my signature set of paintings.

EH: What does lipstick symbolize to you?

MF: In the series I have treated the lipstick with an angular Cubist style. Traditionally, when you depict a woman you choose round shapes, you don’t use angles. Whereas in this work for the lipstick, for the glasses, I used angles – which are traditionally seen as masculine forms. This juxtaposition for me symbolises the ‘modern woman’. The lipstick in itself is seen as a traditionally ‘feminine’ emblem. However, the woman of the 21st century is far more involved in the world business, compared to the woman of the last century. So the angles express that quality – of a woman living now, the lipstick is the sophisticated part of that depiction.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hublot

EH: Many people recognise the Lipstick series from the watch collaboration that you did with Hublot. Please could you tell us how that came about?

MF: They [Hublot] knew my work, but when we first met, it was just a conventional 20 minute appointment to meet in person. We didn’t come to the meeting with the idea that we would create a watch collaboration. It was perhaps 10 minutes into our chat that we started to discuss the possibility of a collaboration. It was very exciting, a great memory. The meeting was at nine in the morning, by four o’clock in the afternoon I was signing the contract for the lipstick painting.


EH: Wow, that’s fantastic. You’ve previously said that the ‘21st century woman’ inspired your collection with Hublot, who is the 21st century woman to you?

MF: To me, she has three main characteristics, she’s sophisticated, she’s self-confident and she is a non-conformist.


EH: And would you say that’s the woman who also buys the watch or is that kind of woman that the people who buy the watch aspire to be?

MF: A good question. Well, I think the woman of the 21st century is a heroine. Because she plays all kinds of roles during her life and her day. So, I don’t think a woman needs to search for inspiration in a painting, but it’s funny for them to find a painting speaking about their life. The lipstick series is like a mirror of the women who live now, and to have the lipstick watch is a perfect combination. So I think you start your day with the perfect feeling when you wear your watch and you get your painting.

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Big Bang One-Click Marc Ferrero Red | Photo: Courtesy of Hublot

EH: We hear that you’ve been painting in the Dubai desert while you have been here. Please could you tell us a little bit about that?

MF: Yes I did, I love to do live art performances. It’s a way to connect people to the art of painting. And so last year I did many, all over the world, many performances, and one night I received an email from La Galerie Nationale and they said, “Okay, we have an idea to organize a live performance in the Dubai desert” and I really loved the idea. I love the desert, I don’t know why, I’m not Lawrence of Arabia, but I just love it. So, everything was perfectly well organized. We arrived in the desert, and so I prepared everything. I knew something magical would happen, but that’s the way it happened really, because we have many expected guests. During the performance there was wind, and the wind doesn’t fit very well with the art of... during a painting, especially with the canvas.

So in fact, the performance started, quietly, things were going well and after 10 minutes, the painting was falling down on me because I was mixing the colours on the sand and it became a big fight against elements. And I became a little bit crazy, but I think that at the end, the result was magical.

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EM: So you have previously described yourself as ‘the creator of the storytelling art movement’. Please, can you explain a little bit about what you mean by that?

MF: For me, the storytelling movement means three main worlds: fiction, manipulation and fusion. Fiction, because I create fictional characters and fictional stories. I work for movie producers in LA. I create concepts. So I love to invite people into the fictional world. So, the second point is manipulation of the framing [within my paintings]. So, because between the last century and now, our culture with movies, comics and changing the way we look at images. I love to play with the framing, and the manipulation of the framing to give some suspense in the image. And fusion, because I love to go from Cubism, to Figurative, to Pop Art. So when I compose a painting, I can treat certain parts in a Cubist manner and other parts as Pop Art, or Figurative. I love to tell a story. Because the references speak to their own experience. So it’s interesting to share experiences.

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Big Bang One-Click Marc Ferrero Ceramic Black & White and Steel White | Photo: Courtesy of Hublot

EH: It feels like there’s something quite Warholian about some of the qualities in your work. For example, there is a painting of your character Lisa L’Aventura, where the character is clearly wearing a Hublot. You posted it with the comment “always with her Big Bang One Click Marc Ferrero on her wrist.” In terms of mixing commercialism and commoditization, is that something that you’ve thought about in terms of inspiration from Andy Warhol?

MF: So concerning my characters, they’re beautiful and I treat them in Pop Art. And especially Lisa L’Aventura, my heroine because she has a kind of personality fitting perfectly well with the Pop effect. And she’s very clever and smart. And compared to the Warhol, I love to, well, speak in the painting. So what she loves to say, her favourite punchline is, I think, “I’m the best thing that ever happened to the world” simple and that one to me is very precious. She has many similar punchlines. So, I guess that’s where I see the similarity to the Pop Art tradition, to create fictional characters and let them express themselves.

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Big Bang One-Click Marc Ferrero Turquoise | Photo: Courtesy of Hublot

The French Kiss solo exhibition by Marc Ferrero is showing at Alliance Francaise Dubai, Oud Metha, Dubai, until December 2020.

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