An Irrational Cut in Time: an interview with the painter Alexandre Carin

6th November 2018

This month, Candid Magazine's arts correspondent Dominic Sylvia Lauren sat down with the Franco-Iranian painter, Alexandre Carin, who lives and works between London and Paris, about his latest show in Paris at H Gallery, his cinematic influences, his painting philosophy, and his newest obsession: irrational cuts. 

Dominic Sylvia Lauren: You just had your new show, The Garden With the Forking Paths, open at H Gallery in Paris. Could you tell me what it’s about?

AC: The new show is the result of researching image and the function of image. The questions I suppose all painters ask themselves at some point is why do I paint? and what do I paint? And so the series of works that I am presenting at the gallery is the result of these questions, specifically, my research of time and of movement. Not time in a chronological way … time when narration doesn’t exist anymore, when it is just a strength. When something makes the thoughts of the outside invade what would be on the canvas and what we call “image”.

A selection of works in The Garden with Forking Paths by Alexandre Carin at H Gallery, Paris

DL: So, time and this strength of time are the themes that run through the show?

AC: Yes. Well, that is my obsession. The show’s series are about how to try to approach this strength on a canvas and what I discovered was that there was a similarity between cinema and painting which distinguished them from photography. Photography being a moulding of light and painting being a modulation of light.

DL: What makes you couple painting with cinema?

AC: For me, in cinema, as well as in painting, light is modulated. There is a vibration. This made me want to study the function of image in cinema. I started to study cinema through the philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, who talked about the movement in cinema and how to capture that movement. Let me give you an example. You are watching a movie and in the movie, there is a scene where a prisoner escapes and is running away. But the camera is moving at the same time and you can see his face and you know he is running very fast but you can’t measure the time through his movement. So something very interesting happens; instead of time being measured through movement, movement is measured through time. We call this the aberration of movement.

A work by Alexandre Carin in The Garden with Forking Paths at H Gallery, Paris

DL: How did studying Deleuze inspire the new series in the show?

AC: Well, it took me to studying La Nouvelle Vague, a movement in French cinema that begins to question image and time and there is something more irrational about it. Somehow you start thinking that there may be a different reality to what you believe in. Space and time disappears.

DL: So, this philosophical quest led to a lot of questioning and discovery?

AC: Yes. And also, the process of making the movie, cutting frames and reassembling images was becoming very important in Nouvelle Vague. Well-known directors, like Goddard, started to work on these cuts and even add cuts from sound or dialogue that didn’t correspond to the image. And so, my painting series is born out of this idea of cinematic cuts and what is happening as a result of them. 

A work by Alexandre Carin in The Garden with Forking Paths at H Gallery, Paris

DL: How does this theme of ‘irrational cuts’ relate to the title of the show, The Garden of the Forking Paths?

AC: Somehow this idea of cuts reminded me of someone I cherished and loved before my whole cycle with movies, which is the author, Jorge Luis Borges, and the different worlds he mentions in some of his novels. This metaphor of the forking paths is a way to describe a labyrinth or a maze that may lead to infinite narratives. I interpret them as cuts and the cuts become sort of a gap, an irrational gap that doesn’t represent space. On the canvas, it is represented by a line. But this gap opens the door to various questions. Are these cuts representative of different moments? Of different worlds? That is up to the viewer to decide.

DL: Have you always explored irrational cuts?

AC: My intuition and desire to understand the function of time in cinema led me here. I have explored distortion in the past, or playing with mirror and light, but my obsession with cinema recently made me think of cuts and that is what inspired this new series. I wanted to see what is happening in two worlds at the same time or how a divided image can create a whole new world.

A work by Alexandre Carin in The Garden with Forking Paths at H Gallery, Paris

DL: There seems to be quite a lot of thought behind these paintings.

AC: My thoughts nourish me, however, my ideal is that a painting could be as simple as possible. The thoughts should belong to the viewer. My goal has to be about transmitting something through convictions and belief. When we see paintings by 16th and 17th century painters, something invades our spirits; we see that conviction. Today, we do not have those same convictions. This prompts us to be humble and accept our own obsessions and know that we are just students who should constantly be exploring what drives our creative paths.

Words by Dominic Sylvia Lauren 

The Garden of the Forking Paths will be running until 24 November 2018 at H Gallery in Paris, France.

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