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“Portrait of an artist” by Mélissa Burckel Artistic Director – Curator

Clémentine Henrion is a French designer who graduated from the École supérieure des arts appliqués Duperré. In the heart of the Marais, she runs her creative studio called Design For Pragmatic Daydreamers . She works as an artistic director on eclectic projects. As set design, scenography, fashion design and illustration.

I discovered Clémentine Henrion’s work during the 34th edition of the European Heritage Days at Éléphant Paname. The place had given Clémentine carte blanche on the theme of youth. I remember being transported by her dreamlike, which highlighted “the flight of a youth driven by the audacity of carelessness.” 

A few years later, I contacted Clémentine in the context of a project for the ultra-premium Mexican tequila brand “Patrón” (Bacardi-Martini France group) at the request of the agency Moma Event. An event inspired by the rituals of Día De Muertos, an extremely popular traditional festival in Mexico, for which Clementine Henrion has created a personalized altar.

Research axes, constraints, respect for traditions: How can an artist-brand collaboration be successful? 

Clémentine Henrion offers to Acumen Magazine some answers during an interview in her Parisian studio.

Mélissa Burckel:  Hello, Clementine, how are you?

Clémentine Henrion: Pretty good, thank you, Mélissa! I’m just starting to re-appropriate this post-confinement life. I really liked this space-time interlude … and the first days of recovery, the noise and agitation of the city were quite disturbing, bordering on violence. Fortunately, the projects are getting back on track and that helps to regain confidence. The desire to create is still there and collaborations are even more essential than before.

Three words to describe what we have been experiencing since March 18th?

Spleen-and-ideal! Sorry for the word game, but this unprecedented crisis has given me the feeling of being caught in a total paradox, between a feeling of serious darkness, a nightmare that persists when I wake up every morning … and also the very concrete aspiration for simple happiness within reach, free of the superfluous. In these anguishing moments when we no longer know anything, what a blessing to be able to find refuge in our dreams!

I wanted to discuss with you the subject of collaboration between artist and brand and, more specifically, the notion of constraint in art. When I suggested that you create an Altar for a brand event, what was your very first reaction?

Obviously, there is always the question of making a personal universe cohabitate, therefore a minimum of egocentricity, and the constraints of a brand with the commercial stakes. But, knowing your expertise and your audacity, I was immediately confident! Your Autel project spoke to me right away. The afterlife, the memory of disappeared beings, the link between the terrestrial and celestial worlds are all themes that have inspired me for many years. My dear sister, a visual artist, and I have worked hand-in-hand to build my creative studio.

When she passed away in 2011, I had to relearn how to be enthusiastic, how to remain as solar as before and even more. It is out of an instinct for survival and as a tribute to her generosity that my work has moved in this direction: to continue to build, whatever the cost, ultra-colored, light, optimistic worlds, in full awareness of this other reality. Overcoming the ordeal of mourning offered me the ultimate weapon to believe in it.

An altar is like a call to Heaven, an infinite and confident opening towards the incomprehensible and the elusive.

That is why building an altar for you on the theme of the Día de Muertos seemed to me like a gift, because you knew all this.

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