> Please introduce yourself, in your own words. What are your interests?
My name is Stéphane. I am a Frenchman who moved to Finland in 1996 for reasons of love. I am interested in literature, music, and movies as an appreciator, and in photography as a producer.
> Where did you begin with artistic endeavours? How did you come across Abstraction or Surrealism?
As a child I was loved to use pens, making monochrome drawings of portraits and landscapes. Later, in my late teens, I turned to Chinese ink drawings, just black and white compositions on cardboard. Music was my inspiration: I let my mind fly and my hand move with the pen on the card: I found a lot of pleasure in it. My work was already non-figurative at this point, in a vaguely psychedelic style. It wasn't until I got my first analogue SLR in 1995 that I got into photo-making. I learned a lot from books and from experience, and to start with I took shots only for my memory: images for family albums, and of scenes I found nice. In 2006 I felt I could take my work further than this and I started to put more of myself into the pictures. I tried to not only show something nice but also bring something deeper to the image, like own feelings, visions, and impressions. Slowly, one path of my photography went into non-figurative and surreal works as I wanted to get beyond reality and the surface appearance of things, into an image that comes more from the heart and the mind than from the physical appearance of things. I tried this by destroying the real appearance of the subject using different photographic techniques. However, this is just one part of my photographic world as I also love to record reality and forget myself in that way.
> How would you explain the concept of Abstraction or Surrealism to someone with no experience with the genre?
To get beyond reality, to touch things that are felt but not concrete. In our brain, our body, and our heart reactions occur and this genre is an effort to express them. It can be intellectual but it can also be a rendition of the beats and flows that we can experience in our everyday life. I feel it is supposed to touch the viewer in a dynamic way, just as the Jazz listener whose heartbeats are following the solo improvisation. I don't know if it is a definition of the genre but this is what I feel in abstract and surreal works; this is what matters to me with these works.
> What inspires you to use Abstraction or Surrealism in your work?
It is very spontaneous; the works I create are always coming from some flow, some thrill, some kind of lightning inspiration that I get. It's difficult to explain: Kerouac would call it the "beat". It isn't always there, but when it touches me I shoot, shoot and shoot...
> What do you want to express with your artwork? What is the idea you're trying to put across?
With the works in this genre it isn't an idea, but more about a feeling; an impression of something very ephemeral: about what is behind the appearance of things and about the things we experience and feel. It is about visualising all these sensations that that are difficult to put into words.
> What are your 'tools of the trade'? How do you create your art?
I use many different cameras: digital and analogue, small and medium format, for different occasions. For blurry works, I prefer to use a digital one, as it needs many tests and I like to look at the results from the camera's screen. For slower, more involved works I like to use my medium format camera, as I enjoy the process of thought, and of building of the scene: travelling through the wide viewfinder. I develop black & white films by myself, then scan, use old Lightroom and Photoshop suites for processing. The major visual effects of my photography are created in-camera; the software afterwards is only for small adjustments.
> Do you think the quality of a piece depends more upon technical perfection, or the message contained therein?
I think it depends on both. Visual perfection without any concept behind is just empty and a strong message without any visual impact won't work for the viewer. Generally, I think that too much 'perfection' can kill the spontaneity of the image. I think we have to feel free when we create our work, and not become slaves of a so-called perfection of technique.
> Who are your favourite visual artists, and why?
I like Dali, Van Gogh, and Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Their images and personalities touch me a lot. I feel they go very far into their visual works and visions: they're very involved in their art. However, the most influence I get in terms of inspiration doesn't come from visual artists but from writers and musicians.
> Which dA Groups would you recommend to someone looking to get involved with abstract and surreal art?
> What advice would you give to an absolute beginner in the genre?
Be free; feel, love, shoot, experience!
> Any final words on abstract and surreal art?
> In conclusion, pick nine works from your Favourites that you particularly enjoy.