Your brightly coloured works immediately express joy, gaiety and a kind of obvious freshness, but what is your personal definition of joy? Do you consider yourself as a joyful artist?
For me, joy is intimately linked to your childhood, to this blissfully happy-go-lucky state that we gradually lose over time and we constantly look back on nostalgically. The colours that I use for my murals, in rainbow hues, take us back to something infinitely positive etched in our collective memory. Whether it is the rainbow of our childhood, the gay community or the rainbow nation advocated by Nelson Mandela. I have chosen these colours for the happy emotions that they instil, a kind of naivety and poetry which subjugates the harshness of the city. They also welcome nature into the urban landscape. For me personally, does all that make me a joyful artist? To express joy, I think you need at least to be joyful, so yes, I am joyful.
Is this colour spectrum perceived in the same way around the world?
Absolutely, like a universal language. Every culture can identify with the seven colours that represent life. The only difference is that in European cities, I inevitably create a stark contrast between urban grey monotony and colour. In Latin America, with its distinctive, colourful architecture, it’s the opposite effect and I need to build a relationship between the different colours.
How did you make the transition from architect to street artist?
Architecture gave me the solid foundations but I struggled to see myself in an office drawing up plans. I felt this innate desire to do something with my hands. And yet I am not particularly gifted at painting or drawing. It was the Japanese art of origami that gave me the idea, which I discovered during many years spent there. Japanese legend has it that if we fold a thousand paper cranes in a year, our wish will come true. These garlands are commonly found in temples and symbolise hope. Hence the idea to work with origami. It can be quite tricky, but there are real moments of introspection, quite like meditation. And I love paper; it’s a humble material that suits my philosophy down to the ground.
How are your installations generally received by the public? Do you enjoy seeing how people react?
As the installations can be quite time-consuming, I often hear the reactions first-hand, like a kind of live feed. People are often surprised, sometimes even concerned at the fragility of the piece and its ephemeral nature. But I think they are generally touched by my aesthetic approach, my desire to create something beautiful. They are also aware of the huge amount of preparation beforehand, which can be disproportionate to the life of the installation, but in itself brings a sense of rarity.
Your installations sometimes require the participation of your audience. What does this bring to your works?
Making the public “work” around an installation is without doubt the best way to take ownership. I love to focus on families and friends who bring innocence and candour in a joyful communion. I also like to promote the importance of sharing through these collective experiences.
What projects do you have in the future? Will you continue to work with origami?
Origami is not necessarily my signature style. It’s a way for me to create, but I could just as easily use pieces of wood or embroidery. My obsession with colour is far more important to the creative process. I’m going to continue working around accumulation, movement and dispersion, like rays of light which reveal flecks of dust suspended in mid-air. These everyday events never cease to inspire me, just like colour in fact.
Commitment to the community is essential for you. Why is this?
I like the feeling of being useful in some way. My installations play a part, I hope, in raising awareness. Even if my approach is full of joy, it should also spark reflection, particularly on environmental issues. I work in fact on more personal pieces, where I protest and express anger. Basically, when I work with brands, I always donate a percentage of my earnings to charity, supporting humanitarian and environmental causes. For me it’s a way of giving something back and bringing real meaning to my work.
“It’s a humble material that suits my philosophy down to the ground.”
Mademoiselle Maurice is a 29-year old French artist born in Haute-Savoie. Having studied architecture in Lyon, she decided to travel to Japan. The tragic events of 11 March 2011 considerably influenced her role as an artist, and will remain at the heart of her work around origami, inspired by the legend of a thousand cranes. Back in Paris, her works are in stark contrast to urban monotony. Joyful creations, full of freshness, but also call into question the space around us.
The artist’s most recent exhibition to date is an artistic “vice versa”, at Bikini Berlin, comprising a mass of tiny cubes in spring-like colours suspended from the ceiling and hundreds of origami birds on the floor, in a whirl of movement. Visitors can wander freely through the installation. Better still, they can become part of the exhibition itself by making and adding their own origami creations. Once again, Mademoiselle Maurice’s creations cut through urban monotony and encourage interaction both with the public and the environment.