i-D and Boucheron asked four artists to take a self portrait.
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Painters, poets and sculptors, Inès, Bianca, Apolonia and Jan create vivid pictures of life as artists in 2017.
Apolonia Sokol was born and raised in the world of theatre. It’s not not surprising then that everything in her life and on her Instagram account, lends itself to play-acting. caled at life-size and oil-brushed, the portraits painted by this young Franco-Polish artist surpass banal encounters, fusing the intimate and the universal, and bonding with the idea carried by dada: art and life make only one. For i-D and Boucheron, Apolonia played the game of the self portrait.
Why choose to paint at 1:1 scale?
When you paint someone life-size, you identify with the human in them, and compassion emerges in the process. Speaking about scale made me think of the stranger of the Seine [an unidentified young woman whose putative death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artists' homes after 1900] … One day, the corpse of a young woman was hauled out of the river: there was a thin smile on her lips. Straight away, a cast of her face was made to capture her riveting expression. The stranger of the Seine features in the writings of Aragon, in Max Ernst’s works and other key artists. The mannequins used for mouth-to-mouth training also have her face. The impact it had onto our society and our iconography is bound to her 1:1 scale. She is real.
Did your environment growing up influence your vision of art and the artist?
I grew up in many different places, which made me understand that the tables can turn, and that compassion is key.
How do you use social media?
In the age of the selfie, the female painter creates her own existence on social media. Our identities are manifold and fluid. If Picasso was still alive today, he would probably be the king of Instagram. He was always eager to pose in tabloid magazines with Brigitte Bardot. The story of Artemisia is told through her self portraits. In his correspondence, Gustave Courbet wrote that he needed “one year to be known by all of Paris”. Every artist has their own mythology. Only the practices change.
What do self portraits bring to you, as an artist?
It’s a classic, the tendency to paint yourself.
Tell us about the self portrait you created for i-D and Boucheron?
It was not easy, especially because I usually work on canvas. At the same time, the idea of using a printed picture reminded me of the photographic painting of Richter, and made me want to move towards abstraction, to experiment with other formats and supports. The quote is borrowed from John Berger, a British poet and art critic. At first, I thought it would glide in the background, but the phrase takes all its strength in the body. It tells us about the female body in the history of painting. The history of the arts and the gods are narrated through the naked bodies of women. A make-up artist I discovered through Instagram chose to feature this quote on the face of one of her models. It really struck me.
What are your projects at the moment?
The exhibition Tainted Love, in Poitiers. Yann Chevalier has invited us at Confort Moderne, which is reopening from December 16th. I am presenting a piece together with my fiancé, Azzedine Salek, who is also a sculptor and poet: a bedouin wedding tent made of wax. The interior will be covered in frescos inspired by the myth of Echo and Narcissus. According to the story, Echo helped Zeus cheat on his wife. Enraged, Hera condemns her to repeat perpetually what she hears. Echo, in distress, isolates herself in the forest where she encounters Narcissus. He falls madly in love with her because when he hears Echo, he is actually hearing his own voice. The story of a modern love, overall.
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