“The forest is what drives me, amazes me, makes me doubt, makes me want to fight, to create and to see tomorrow. I am learning to accept that I will only be part of it as a loving visitor, as an animal that, crossing the edges, remembers who he could have been, but also who he would like to become; part of the balance of things. I feel that the human that I am is always lagging behind. So I am satisfied with what I am, an ecstatic walker, a woods investigator, sometimes a treasure gatherer, but always an instant gatherer.” These are the words of the contemporary French artist Vincent Laval, born in 1991, who grew up a few dozen meters from the Carnelle Forest in the north of Ile-de-France, and who has maintained a strong connection with the forest since his childhood.
His approach is that of an “artist-walker-gatherer”. Through long walks in the heart of the forest, the young artist collects pieces of trees, stones, moments, images, emotions… which will then become sculptures or photographs.
Laval graduated in 2019 from the Paris Beaux-Arts after studying at the Boulle School, and he is part of a new generation of artists who are knowledgeable, connected to life and committed to the environment. The artist is mobilized for the Forest Art Project and Francis Hallé associations for the rainforest, and even donates 5% of his artistic income to the latter.
“Plus loin dans la forêt” (Further into the forest) is a sculpture made from an assembly of chestnut branches which is an evocation of a cabin, the symbol of a positive link between humans and the forest, inviting us to pause and to take part in a communion. The chestnut branches are not chosen at random, the artist only takes those which have fallen to the ground and which time has made rot-proof. Finding these requires great patience, several weeks of crisscrossing and searching… always further into the forest. Walking, time, observation and knowledge of a forest territory thus become an integral part of the final sculpture.
Vincent Laval was selected and interviewed as part of a specific collaboration between Alice Audouin and the ONF, for the International Day of Forests 2021 (see here).
Find all the articles from Impact Art News n°28 – Mars 2021
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