Octave Marsal

Arts & CultureMarch 14, 2016
Octave Marsal

It is rare to see an up and coming young artist such as Octave – with ideas that make you think of how art is moving forward and shaping our minds. His latest project, an animation on a Bach’s concerto, is not only original, but it has substance – a rarity today.

Where are you based?

I’m based in London. I’m a French artist (25) born in Paris. I graduated from Central Saint Martins in (BA) Fine Art in 2014. And I’m actually in my 1st year of Masters at the Royal College of Art, which is an incredible experience.

Why is it such an incredible experience? What are your fellow students like? And why did you choose to do your studies in London and not Paris?

I decided to study in London because I wanted to leave Paris, where I grew up and lived all my life. Central Saint Martins was a great school, I learned a lot about myself, but honestly there is no comparison with the Royal College of Art. This Masters is extraordinary, because of the teachers, the way of teaching, the lectures are incredible, the facilities, and the students. The energy in this school is the amazing. People are really working a lot, and I love to be mixed in with design, architecture and fashion. It is a challenging experience for everyone.

Sen “anti-modern bir sanatçısın”. Bize bundan bahsedebilir misin?

Ben anti-modern bir sanatçı değilim, ama çok klasik tutkularım var. Ütopya konseptini merkez alan mekan ve zaman çalışmalarımın temelini oluşturuyor. Francesco Borromini ve Albrecht Dürer gibi sanatçılardan ilham alıyorum, hayali şehirlerin büyük çizimlerini yaratıyorum. Çizimi hem mimari ifadenin klasik bir formu olarak hem de günlük hayallerimden çıkan ütopik fantazilerin gerçeğe dönüşmesi için bir araç olarak görüyorum. Her detayın dikkatlice işlendiği yavaş bir inşa biçimini benimseyerek, algımızı rahatsız etmeye ve izleyiciyi bir merkez olmadan yakına ve uzağa bakmak için teşvik etmeye çalışıyorum.

You are an “anti-modern artist.” Can you tell us about this?

I’m not an anti-modern artist, but I have very classical aspirations. Space and time are the basis of my work, which is centered around the concept of utopia. I’m inspired by artists such as Francesco Borromini and Albrecht Dürer; I create large drawings of imaginary cities. I use drawing both as a classic form of architectural expression and as a mean to realize the utopian fantasies arising from my daydreams. By adopting a slow building process, where every detail is carefully processed, I am trying to disturb our perception and induce in the viewer an emphasis on both near and far, without any defined center.

Why did you want to become an artist and not a lawyer?

I am very dyslexic and I’ve developed a strong visual memory. I think doing Masters in Art is the only Masters I can do. I was terrible at school as a child, and it is quite a surprise for me now to be in a prestigious institution like the Royal College of Art.

What did you do this week?

I made music with my Australian friend Cosmo, I played tennis with my roommate and I worked on a personal project.

What is your latest work about?

My last project is the most tedious project I ever did. I had the idea in September to make an animation on a concerto by Bach: I synchronized the music perfectly with my drawing. It became a collaboration with the Royal College of Music of London, after my proposal. It’s 2600 drawings by hand on the Concerto for Two Violins (BWV1043) proposed by the Director. The idea was also to play the Concerto Live with animation projected behind the Baroque Orchestra. I think the concept of playing Bach’s music without instruments, but with a pen, was truly amazing. I had a strong motivation, because I have a strong personal relation with this Baroque composer. The performance took place on the 3rd of March in the Royal College of Music’s Concert Hall.

I did not want to create a contemplative animation, but rather attempted to shape one that follows the rhythm, the concerto’s movements while representing visually the expressive relation between the two violins. I tried to bring into being a phono-visual experience, where sound and visuals could synchronize and merge in the mind of the spectator.

That is pretty original and worth some attention I would say. What response did you receive from this?

I had some amazing feedback from this project, especially from the Royal College of Music. Because I really focused on Bach’s music, and for these incredible students, it was a new experience to play in relation with visual art. I feel very lucky to be a part of this process. I’ve learned so much about music, tempo, instruments, interpretation, rhythm, leaders instruments, acoustic, clicks, the codes in a classical concert and Bach’s Music. It was also the first collaboration between these two prestigious institutions, and it’s a project I will develop in the future. I will continue this project and try to work on a bigger piece.

Do we know how to define art today? I mean the whole face of it has changed. You are another generation in the art world, so what do you think?

You’re totally right, I think our generation of artists will be inspired by the new technologies, new materials and the development of new softwares. Personally I try, in my practice to come back to the old techniques of drawing. Because the world is going so fast, and I want to provide a contrast to these ideas.

That is like a swimming against a strong tide… It must be pretty hard to stand out as a contrast to the fast pace of art today?

Exactly, it’s hard, but I’m young. Thus art is a source of passion rather than work for me. So I don’t mind to take all the time I need to find what I really want to say and try to develop my world.

Is your work a reference to a particular period?

At the moment, I try to explore the act of drawing through new technologies. By Animation, 3D Print and Sculpture.

Octave and Theo. What is this about?

Théo de Gueltz is one of my best friends. We have an Artist Duo collaboration: octave and theo; we collaborated for our degree Show at Central Saints Martins called LAB. Two monumental sculptures: A Drawing Machine and Column Etched by Hand. (Finalist of the Nova Award 2014 by Lowe and Partners). Théo is actually traveling in South America now. We still exchange ideas and drawings.

Are all your friends artists?

I made a lot of friends who are artists during school. But my best friends are an actor, a teacher, musicians and a journalist.

How do you want to continue your work after the Royal College of Art?

I will see once I graduate. I ‘m creating a luxury brand with my best friend and I have few commercial projects. But I know becoming an artist needs some patience. So we will see. I’m not thinking too much about then, but more about today.

Instagram: @octavemarsal

Author: Tabitha Karp