It’s a kind of greediness… a bit obsessive
We visited the exhibition of Paul Casaer at De Garage in Mechelen with metal artist Chloé Arrouy. In All we can get, we experienced a stylised reflection on consumerism. We found beauty in Casaer’s burned landscapes, rescaled objects and drawings in sculpture. Chloé shared her obsessions when creating with metal and what makes her greedy for more.
Can you tell us about your practice?
I make metal sculptures with welding and foundry. I make artisanal things in an artisanal way. That is my practical way of working. In a metaphorical way, I mostly work on transgression, symbols that come from witchcraft, paganism and also urban environments. I try to link everything to question my own culture, but also my own sexuality and existence. So it’s between the sacred and the profane, childhood and violence. There are all these kinds of antagonisms and paradoxes that I try to communicate.
Your work has a violent element to it too.
My main inspiration when I started making objects in metal were medieval torture objects. I found a lot of images and visited a torture museum in the south of France. It was super logical to work with metal for these objects. At the base is research into empathetic form, I wanted to create objects which can make us feel pain just by looking at them. Recently, I am trying to moderate the spikes and dangerous things. I would like to talk about this kind of violence but differently. Violence which we cannot see, but we can imagine. I made a swing chair with hearts and fluffy pillows; it’s still talking about violence, but more subtly. I hurt myself a lot with my objects. Every time I do the transport to build a show, I hurt myself with my own artwork. I’m a bit tired of it.
It's between the sacred and the profane, childhood and violence
You and Paul Casaer both work with metal? Did you find any inspiration at the exhibition?
I was wondering how he did everything, but there weren’t any clues because everything was covered with paint. The metalwork was not very evident. As I didn’t recognise any technique I was left questioning. There are no traces, everything is clean and so very different from what I do.
Do you think this clean finish is a reference to finished products and consumerism?
Yes, I think it was this kind of thing. It’s logical and works with his statement. He makes finished standardised work. My work is rougher. I want to show the way it’s made and also the mistakes.
I wanted to create objects which can make us feel pain just by looking at them
What did you think of the organic objects, like the plants and the gourds?
I also like to work with flowers. I like the way they’re inspired by nature but created in metal. It was interesting that he changed the scale of the objects. The exhibition was like a burned environment. There were leaves and nature, but they were black.
What was your favourite piece at the show?
I really liked the peacock feathers with the rings. They are really old-fashioned, vulgar rings that you can buy on holiday. I love this kind of jewellery. I also like the sculpture with the books, it was a kind of drawing. There were a lot of sculptures that had the feeling of drawings. There really was a lot of work there. It worked well with the exhibition theme.
The exhibition title is All we can get. What can’t you get enough of?
It’s very difficult for me to stop when I start working on metal. You can do whatever you want. You can let it rust with vinegar and chemical products. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from experimenting and altering the metal. I like to see how far I can go. I also started to work more with aluminium. I am always looking for forms to print and cast. When I go to the flea market in Brussels I always see things that I could make in the foundry which would be really nice in aluminium. It’s a kind of greediness, it’s a bit obsessive.
So in that sense, you and Casaer both work with recognisable objects? Are you using objects only for their form? Is that a new thing you are doing?
It’s a new thing. In the beginning, I was up-cycling or re-evaluating stuff by taking domestic things out of context and cutting them up and making new forms. Casting is now a new way of seeing my practice where everything is possible in a different way.