Fine Arts Magazine
European Society of Art
Stellest: Unidentified Cosmic Art
‘Before making us what we are, the matter that forms us was once dispersed in the universe; flying through the large clouds where stars were born…’ Michel Cassé. Astrophysicist.
Some words can make us scared or make us dream…For instance, one says the word ‘Cosmic’, and right away, a relentless wave of ideas flows through our minds. Other words: ‘signs, strength, planets’; immediately show their letters, which appear to be surrounded by vibrating and coloured auras. In a matter of seconds, our minds mix folklore, magic, mysteries and alchemy, setting our memories free of seeking inspiration in each and every field open to us, recreating an idea of the universe through so many concepts. In one case, the extraordinary reappears, and the stardust we are, remembers its brightness. In another, prudence tainted with irony, soon lock us up behind fastidious boundaries created by our logic. Patrice Stellest slides between these boundaries; behind these questions and contradictions. There is not his point.
He saunters between universal signs and his own intuition, just like Native Americans do: “They put a glass of water down in front of their tent, wait for the light of the rising sun to fill the glass, and use this ‘magic’ water to heal… How can you explain this? How do you measure it? Native art wasn’t made for money, it was made for life. To plant seeds in the spring and to celebrate weddings; it had a ritual function, and this is what I am trying to include in my sculptures. I work around positive vibrations…’
Stellest was born in 1953. After having worked with Jules Engel (director of animations for Walt Disney Studios), he got interested in what he calls Constructivist Surrealism. ‘I realized that people could be healed through the understanding of their dreams, and I tried to move forward in this direction. I then stopped making experimental films and used dreams to convey a message: I started using painting and drawing as my means of expression, which in our times of permanent exposure to commercial marketing still withhold a meditative function, and extraordinary cosmic power. In these hectic times, I chose an expression meant to calm people.’ From there, he slowly moves away from surrealism. ‘I came to see Max Ernst’s work as completely cosmic by the end of his life. All there is to see are planets and stars. It has nothing to do with surrealism anymore.’
His first concept of Cosmic Art appeared in 1982, In Los Angeles, and was later developed in Touraine after meeting the Californian painter Cortland. Other artists follow them amongst whom Marie Noelle de Vibraye, a feminist artist who finds her inspiration in Mexican art. Patrice Stellest now works in Eygalières, in the Provence. Since three years, he is the assistant of Greek sculptor Costa Coulentianos who guides him through the techniques of metal sculpting. ‘The work of Coulentianos is a game between metal and emptiness, so that the light that reaches the sculpture will change its aspect. This man is 74 years old and shows an extraordinary vitality. He feels things in an incredible cosmic dimension.’
If we can’t define what Stellest means by ‘Cosmic art’, perhaps it is because it voluntarily stands apart from concepts and categorizations. ‘That which counts the most is the generosity in the work, whether it in interior or exterior.’ Cosmic art is not as much an aesthetic courant as it is a state of mind, which comes from and goes towards all directions. ‘Everything is cosmic, even my jeans!’
An integration of Native expressions (Hopi and Acoma) to American art, a harmonization with the laws of nature, an intuitive and visionary knowledge are transposed by Stellest through different means of expression; Metal and neon sculptures, paintings painted on XIIth Century Parchment (found in an old trunk!). ‘My middle age parchments are very primitive expressions in a modern cosmic culture’. Stellest is also in search of a new language. This is what his Unidentified Object (C19) –which was acquired by the private M.Tate collection- is all about. ‘I imagined the ‘Cosmic Flag’ he says. It’s made with marble dust, in plastic vinyl and gold… It’s precious, and the image is very easy to read. ‘A new set of street signs’. Just like the ancient cultures did, we are developing a modern cosmic language. One can read C19. C for Cosmos, 9 plus 1 makes 10, which in numerology represents the number 1. The whole. Then, in white gold, we have the shape of a saucer. It’s anonymous. Non-identified. There is something fascinating about a shape, which can move so easily vertically and horizontally at an extraordinary speed. When Calder created the mobile, he found a way to incorporate the wind in the metal. I am trying to integrate the saucer as an art form. It’s a light on the way, which can show a new hope in art, a hope of evolution.
According to Stellest, our civilization is in a dead end street. ‘The sees are polluted, Mankind is ill.’ Placing himself at the extreme limits of our knowledge, of our objective knowledge and projections, and inspiring himself from a shape, the saucer (‘My entire sense of creativity was involved when I discovered the meaning of this shape’), Stellest hopes to contribute to the emergence of a new logic, giving mankind its globality back. ‘I have the vision of an ideal city ‘Cosmica’, where Mankind would live in harmony with the Universe and Cosmos, both inside and outside. Energy there would be created form lakes, of hydrogen.’ A native American Indian Utopia, reconciliating nature and technology in a kind of ‘Fractal science’.
Patrice Stellest’s creative energy wanders freely and sometimes looses itself between all these currants, but he plays with images, offers to create new ones, so let’s not be afraid of words with unusual shapes ‘It’s a positive step towards a new direction, which Mankind can follow… We must keep a happiness to be alive, and always step connected, just like children are: this is Cosmic Art!’
The Chinon Paper. May 2002
A creative blast
Two hundred children on the tracks of Stellest. Thanks to him, they were even able to create their own artworks, with recuperated objects of their choosing.
Art is at times short-lived, and this is highly regrettable for a treasure of imagination, which must be visited before the week-end ends. This treasure lies in the City Hall Art Gallery where Stellest currently shows his astonishing creations of Trans Nature Art. But his paintings, installations and other mechanisms no longer stand alone, as artworks of local school pupils recently joined them.
Stellest in fact accepted to conduct creative workshops organized by the City Cultural Office. Nine classes together with a group of children part of the CLAAC club enjoyed three workshops under the artist’s supervision. After the first workshop, which was a guided tour of Stellest’s exhibition, the children worked together with the artist in order to create “meaningful artworks” put together with objects they chose, based on a story they invented individually.
The result is breath-taking, flabbergasting and simply irresistible. Two hundred creations, each consisting of a drawing, a text and the artwork itself now fill the gallery stairs.
One must take the time to read the stories and dreams, which emerged from the children’s imagination. It’s funny, touching and irreplaceable.
One must go this week end, as Stellest’s exhibition will close on Sunday evening. Evidently, Monday will rime with Grey!
The new Republic
June 5th 2000
Artists in residency
For the third consecutive year, The ‘Années Joué’ confirmed their vocation as a street art festival with this year an obvious inclination towards modern art. Mr Jamal Lansari, the event’s manager explains: ‘We use the city’s Fabric-Studio in order to help the artists in residence to create work following the theme 1980 to 2000.’
ALL AROUND PATRICE STELLEST
Among the artists invited, the painter and sculptor Patrice Stellest is the ‘Invité d’honneur’, he who worked with international figures of the art world to give birth to the ‘Cosmic Art’, before dividing his time between New-York, Basel, the Provence and Candes-St-Martin.
His message? ‘’We live in a world where the values and art are being redefined constantly, and it is hard to create one specific style. Art lost its primary function considering that everything can be sold. For me, the function of art is to help society to evolve’.
By what means? ‘Technology produces serial effects. I use technology to translate my personal emotions and the topic, which for me prevails over any other: the defence of nature. Excessive consumerism abuses our planet’s natural resources, and art can be used as universal acupuncture conveying multicultural values. Our only real capital is nature, which’s systems work way beyond our planet’ Stellest assures us.
This is why he uses the terms of ‘Cosmic Art’ or Trans Nature Art’ to qualify his artworks: Metaphorical sculptures full of humour and poetry. This work is assembled in about 30 installations, which tell the tail of Human evolution, and invite us to reflect upon it, in the beginning of this XXIst Century.
‘By his intriguing creations, sculptures composed of objects which speak to us, the artist reveals himself as a citizen of the world, defending a planet which’s beauty must be preserved’.
TRANS NATURE ART.
Three words for an invitation. The invitation Stellest offers the public of Chinon to discover the world of this painter, sculptor and creator, through his work exhibited until March the 10th in the City Hall Gallery.
Three words side-by-side, perhaps somewhat obscure for those whose habit it isn’t to spend time in artistic circles. Nonetheless, if there is one exhibition to be discovered, regardless of ones ages, background and culture, this is the one. The exhibition, which transports us into the inner-world of an unusual 48 year-old artist whose soft madness, in the noblest sense of the term, reveals as a creative visionary.
Patrice Stellest is a former student of the Walt Disney institute of fine arts. This permanent traveller’s home is the world. Los Angeles, Paris, New York’s private collections rave over his artworks made between Arizona, Switzerland and the Provence; so many peaceful havens, which inspire this relentless defender of nature.
For the past two years, Stellest has been living in the village of Candes-St-Martin, happy to live at the heart of this land, which recently entered UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Here, facing the junction of the Loire and the Royal River, he developed his concept of ‘Trans Nature Art’, creating the paintings, sculptures and installations, which are now being presented.
Composed of unlikely mixtures of objects, these creations undeniably catch one’s attention. Stellest unites all kinds of objects, which seem to have been found directly in our collective memory, and the public has every chance to recognize the objects, as they can ‘communicate with them.’ Behind a deceiving mess, which is soon overcome, each creation tells a story, defends a cause. The link between it all? ‘ The protection of environment, nature, the seas: our planet’; evidently nothing more normal for this citizen of the world.
Forty something and absolute genius among the best of them, Stellest creates work that can be seen, touched and heard. Interactive artworks, similar to toys, without losing anything of their message. Electronic lights powered by solar energy often show a new aspect of these creations, which will seduce both the children and their parents. Nobody can stay indifferent. Particularly when the artist mixes in and comments on his work with his inimitable accent!
Water, the source of all life, whales and elephants; all this endangered nature finds in Stellest a heart touching and convincing lawyer. A generous man, sensitive and true; one of these beings blessed by a soft madness who we hope aren’t as well, coming to extinction.
The West Courier. November 12th 1987.
Comic Art, a way of life
Cosmic Art illustrator, is the Sculptor in St Germain Sur Vienne a precursor?
The sculptures of Patrice Stellest are astonishing
In his own style, he mixes different materials, of which the most ancient appear by the most modern ones. The oldest metals are flattered by neon lights. The shapes look as if they were about to take off in space. He uses flashy colours, fluorescent at times, where yellow, turquoise and violet dominate in this illustration of ‘Cosmic Art’.
‘Originally, this movement was founded in Los Angeles, in 1982, by a few artists and NASA scientists, in the dynamic of creating a film project for NASA and the 1984 Olympic Games.’
One year later, attracted by France’s legendary artistic reputation and a more quiet life, Stellest decided to come to Europe. More than in films, which ‘throw images to the public which swallows them all without any time to think’, he expresses himself through painting and sculpting. One finds the entire significance of Cosmic Art in one of the artist’s sculptures ‘The man from Cosmic Calexico’. In the shape of an 8, symbol of infinity, it represents Man in the desert, reduced to what he is: ‘A grain of sand in the universe.’ He says.
Nevertheless Stellest refuses to be trapped by his native American origins. ‘And do not say I am against technology, this is a false statement to make!” In fact, Patrice Stellest has a harmonious world in mind, perhaps inspired by his native country: Switzerland.
IIend Sonnabend, owner of a New-York gallery recently said: ‘The typical reaction when facing a new work is not only to laugh, but also to say it is crazy’. Stellest’ work may make some laugh, but seduces many others, and many sculptures and paintings will soon leave St-Germain-Sur-Vienne for Manhattan. ‘I’ve been very lucky’ the young artist says when mentioning the long list of people, often famous, who took some interest in his art and helped him along the way.