Victor Crepsely is the new kind of contemorary artist. He does it all. Mainly, he observes the zeitgeist. Which today often means observing plastic objects and humans relation to them, and all the semiotics that comes with it. He tells us about his entering into the ’high class gallery’ scene, his first experience of the Eiffel tower (Las Vegas), worksites as inspiration and about the mold that shapes us.
Where are you based and what is your occupation?
I am currently based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. My occupation is making things you could say is art.
You’ve recently exhibited your art work at Galerie Ron Mandos, how was it perceived? Was it you first exhibition?
Yes! I was very happy to hear the news that I was selected. I was never used to this high class gallery vibe which was very much present there. It felt a bit weird at the opening to just stand next to your work and have a lot of small talk with people. At art school when someone comes to visit your work you generally aim for something like a deep conversation, but at the gallery most people only seemed to be interested in the technique I use and how long it took me to make the work.There seemed to be a posh elite art vibe, which was very much in contrast with the unconventional way of things at an art school. I knew this vibe existed, but once you are part of it it feels different.
At the galleries I previously exposed, like De Vlieg in Haarlem the vibe was more unconventional, which can also nice. But I guess the vibe in a high class gallery invites me more to get into the character of Victor Crepsley, as this my alter ego.
You’ve been working at HEMA, which is a retail shop selling all the products you didn’t know you needed and this was the experience that became the seed to your latest collection of artworks? Please describe the initial process!
Last summer I needed some money to invest in my final school exhibition. A lot of people suggested me to work in a coffee bar, but I wanted something different. As a teenager I used to work at the Amsterdam Icebar, a Cheese shop in the centre of Amsterdam and at Subway as a so called ‘sandwich artist’. I guess my side jobs always were a great source of inspiration for my creative process.
I am interested in the ways humans have similarities and how people’s behaviors change when they have a position of power. At the Amsterdam Icebar for example tourists would always take exactly the same picture next to the frozen polar bear statue, at the cheese shop the costumers would always ask the same questions about cheese, and at Subway people would always sit at the same table next to the window.Working at HEMA I noticed that the products they sold where trying to fit in the contemporary ‘zeitgeist’. There were also a bunch of young teenage girls working together with woman who recently seemed to have passed their midlife crisis. The blend of generations all working in a same space that represents the now is a fascinating image to observe as a co-worker.
The HEMA is in my eyes one of the most interesting metaphors of society, a way of letting your imagination take over your mind and have fun.
What kind of product there do you remember was the one that first caught your attention and made you realize you could use it as medium?
When I first started to work there it was summer holiday 2018. While re-stocking the shelves I remember a lot of mothers visited the HEMA with their children who where about to attend a start of a new school year. Children running around everywhere, crying baby’s and mothers carrying plastic bags filled with clothes they just bought from a clothing shop. As well as school agenda’s from New York Yankees, Martin Garrix, Barbie and Bart Simpson were popular. While shelves in the shop are all perfectly ordered, and sometimes even categorized on colour.There wasn’t necessarily one single product or object that caught my attention. It was the common thread of companies selling their product to children. Luring them into buying their products.Notebooks wrapped in plastic, neon pencil cases, pink rulers and shiny accessories.
Does your work problematize mass consumption or what do you think is so fascinating about these plastic items and packagings?
As I child I often visited cities all over the world like Hong Kong, Dubai, New York and Las Vegas. My parents were great lovers of traveling to the most extravagant locations.
When my dad was little, he was very poor and often he would find ways to sneak into cinema’s without paying for it.
He recently told me that he sneaked into a cinema once, where he admired a cigarette advertisement filmed in the streets of New York. Even he saw this city for the first time through the looking glass of an advertisement. Seeing this huge city with flashing lights, cars and skyscrapers inspired him to give his children the youth he never had himself. Eventually he worked his way up and his dream of traveling the world became true. I guess my youth is the product of my parents idea of the best way to raise a child. My work is therefore based on the side effects of being raised in this matter.For instance, I remember visiting the Eiffel tower in Paris for the first time and recognizing it from seeing it first in Las Vegas.
Seeing the world from this perspective is the base of my creations, a plastic world.
Likewise as a baby I remember the first things I played with were toys I got from my parents, very often made out of plastic. When babies enter the world, they get molded by their surroundings, just like a plastic toy is formed by its mold. Apart from that I like the idea of something being beautiful and destructive all at the same time.
Without making a statement on the plastic soup I want to use the material to create an apocalyptic party. I am very conscious that plastic is bad for the environment and I think I do believe in climate change. But I don’t think it’s my role as an artist to just make statements on these hot topics.
Another reason I find it interesting to see the world from a plastic perspective is because I think human beings know a lot of the universe, and at the same time absolutely nothing. I think the way humans perceive reality is a mere sketch of what reality really is. Relating to a material like plastic which is perceived as fake, it feels more realistic then feeling attached to something that is commonly seen as real or genuine, like wood.
You can use plastic as a tool to transform your visual surroundings. If you don’t have time or money to visit an Anish Kapoor exposition, where you get confronted with for instance giant distorted mirrors, just open your fridge, get a plastic bottle, put it in front of your face and play with it, this way you will also see your surroundings differently.
What do you think your work bring to the market that we haven’t already seen?
I guess the things I do have already been done over and over. Yet the ‘zeitgeist’ is constantly in transition, therefore the things you do which have been done will constantly relate in another context.
The major thing I would like to change is the definition of being a contemporary artist. A first way to do this is by not using just one medium, for instance painting. Not that I don’t like paintings, because I do. I just think its important that also painters should expand their creativity in say a performance, sculpture or whatever. Creativity is a big thing which can relate into an ocean of possibilities. There is no such thing as a part in the brain which can only paint on a canvas.
I am also a lead singer of a band, do performances, make little films, sculptures, collages, installations, and for this edition the medium is photography. I try to broaden my horizon, which is absolutely total fun.
Nowadays because of social media, u get to know things of people surrounding you which you’d never know before. Whenever someone buys an artwork from me, I always ask them to follow me on Instagram. In this way the buyer can dig into someone’s mentality and the work you buy becomes a product of a mindset rather than just a esthetic house decoration. You get to know your purchased art piece better, which will refresh the layers of a conversation piece.
What do you do on a day off?
I think its hard to see a difference in spare time and actually working in my studio, the thing I do very much intersect. I like to wander through shopping malls, second hand shops, post things online, go on holidays, dance at a nice party, take pictures. When I am walking on the street, you could say that I am also making a sculpture from shoes by deteriorating it. Or when I am spraying detergent on my dishes I am also making a little painting. Why would something all of a sudden be art when its in a gallery or a museum, I guess the boundaries are limitless.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which are your three items to bring with you?
A football, a Tom Hanks mask from Aliexpress and my laptop on which I then would have already downloaded the movie Cast Away.
What can we expect to see next from you?
In a few months me and my band Daisy Daisy will bring out our first EP and put it on Spotify. We already have a lot of shows planned around the country so that’s good.
Besides that I will continue making things in my new studio and try to expose at different art fairs/galleries.
Soon I will also be the host of a talkshow called The Victor Crepsley Show. I not yet have a clear plan of what the show will be like. Things that are certain is that I would like to invite local celebrities, artists but also just someone who works in a place like HEMA. Performance activities will be a great part of it. Some ideas I had were playing basketball with haring, a detailed presentation about guinnea pigs, massage sessions, stare contests and political discussions on hot contemporary topics while eating seaweed complimented with a great variety of jelly beans.
created by VICTOR CREPSLEY
seen and documented by LARA VERHEIJDEN
brought together by KIRAC
performers JONNY MEHREZ, ARNO WESTERBERG and VALENTIN SCHIKOWSKI
words REBECCA LOVGRENS
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