The French surf art plastician, is all about « Joie de vivre, couleur, lumière et un brin de folie. »
Who is Céline Chat ?
Céline Chat was born in France by the Mediterranean Sea. Before she became the famous Surf Art movement artist we know and love, she travelled the world for 15 years. Her travels took her from Madagascar to the Philippines, Mexico or Australia, to name but a few.
The people she met, the cultures she discovered and the Bohemian life that became her own defined her work and personal lifestyle forever.
In the French Caribbean, where she settled down a few years ago, she found « the diversity, beauty and serenity » she needed to practice her art to the fullest.
What does Céline do ?
Céline is a plastician. She works with a variety of supports, techniques, colours and surfaces that mirror the diversity of the world we live in.
Her favourite media range from acrylic paint, Posca® markers, papers collected on the way, spray cans, old comic books or newspapers. She loves to work on supports such as recycled sail cloth, ukuleles, guitars, surfboards, Vespa® scooters, or polystyrene sculptures. In Indonesia, she even had the opportunity of working on shipwrecks and in Sri Lanka on tuk tuks ! Her inspiration comes from the culture, colours and atmosphere that surround her and her own daily life. « I like to use the material that I can find where I am. »**
July 11-17 2019 : Galerie Pili Taffernaberry, Bidart (France).
June 16-Jan 5 2020 : Aquitaine Museum (Musée d’Aquitaine), Bordeaux, France : « la Déferlante surf » exhibition. 500 works of art dedicated to Surf culture and Art movement, amongst which Céline’s red sculpture « Live Large ».
I asked Céline to tell me more about this larger-than-life bright-red surfer that seems to be having the time of his life. Best story ever : the massive dude was created like a surfboard and perfected in a car body shop. Here’s how :
Céline first made the sculpture by assembling polystyrene foam blocks that she had previously shaped with various tools. She then coated the surface with fibreglass and epoxy resin, before bringing it to a car body shop for more coating – this time body filler. Once the result was to her liking, Céline chose a high quality Scuderia Ferrari-red to paint her surfer and give him that shiny and powerful aspect. For Céline that red is « the most beautiful red in the world » and it sure looks like it. The iron wave was welded by Céline’s partner according to her instructions.
More about Live Large :
As the bright red colour reminds us, the surfer is powerful, his strong body standing firmly on his board. And yet, bare-chested against the wild sea, he is vulnerable. This contrasts also appears in the light and airy iron wave that rides the massive and round body.
This sculpture follows the « Salt Water People » series of paintings, in which surfers are painted from a fisheye perspective* that gives a « surfing sensation » and the feeling that the subject is actually surfing out of the frame.***
Surf art or no surf art, that is... not the question
As a French surf art plastician, Céline can make you believe that surfing is at the core of her artwork. After all, her first creations coincided with her surfing and travelling around the world and her own lifestyle reflects the values that are conveyed by Surf culture.
And yet, surfing « did not and does not define the evolution of her work ».
The surf industry did bring her the momentum she needed as a young artist but her inspiration also comes from our society, especially the use of media and mass consumption. An illustration of this is her series « City vs Wild » which studies modern urban issues, such as over mediatization and mass consumption.
Why did I choose to write about Céline ?
I discovered her artwork a few years back, at the exact same time that I had decided to make major changes in my professional and personal life. Her happy, colourful paintings helped me remain positive and confident.
It doesn’t get more simple than that
« It’s great if my artworks can help people find a way to escape from their daily life after a work day, and even better if it can motivate other girls to think that they too, feel like they can be part of it. (« It » being freedom of living the life you have chosen) ****
(Life is about) « trying to be happy, to make people happy around you, (about) adding your own humble work of art and vision of a 21st century woman who travels, surfs and is free -tries to be. It doesn’t matter if people like it or not. In a way, it is unique because there’s just one person like you. »
These are a few of my favourite things
She is our girl next door.
She welcomes you in her gallery with a huge smile, wearing her paint-covered work shoes, because « the gallery isn’t open until a few hours, actually » but you’re welcome to hang around and come back later for rosé. As if she wasn’t the one responsible for the amazing art surrounding us.
She is passionate and a true professional.
The exhibition is a precise and clever arrangement of paintings of all sizes and a beautiful sculpture reigning over it all. She explains everything, introduces people to people, lets you take as many pictures as you like, explains how she managed to bring her paintings across the atlantic ocean, wrapped like precious candy. Passion and technical details in everything she says.
She takes the time
The opposite of a snob, she takes time for your questions, and will explain whatever detail bugs you or charms you in one of her paintings.
She is the one answering the phone, wrapping her art up to send it overseas and making sure everything is ok. Quality is time is quality.
She is an inspiration
Not only does she teach kids and give workshops, but she also makes her friends or a random translator like me want to make our own art.
When I mentioned how I’d love for her to customize my ukulele, she didn’t offer to send me a quote. Instead, she told me how to do it, with that passionate sparkle in her eyes that make you want to run to the nearest Top Office and buy paint material.
Did you know ?
- Céline can speak Indonesian, a standardized register of Malay.
- You’ll find an article about her in a South-Korean surf magazine about.*****
- She graduated in physics and first planned of becoming a teacher.
Learn more about Céline Chat
*A fisheye lens is a type of ultra wide angle lens that distorts the scene or subject to create a helispherical (or wide panoramic) image. It produces images with an effect similar to that when you look through a door’s peephole – warpes, circular and extremely wide. (Source : Canon.)
**Source : https://www.guadeloupe.franceantilles.fr/actualite/culture/portrait-d-artistes-avec-uka/celine-chat-422023.php
*** The « Salt Water People » series made Céline’s reputation, thanks to a story in Surfeuse magazine : https://celinechat.com/pressbook/surf-session-juin-2003/
Photo credits : Céline Chat