Léo de Riedmatten is a Swiss visual artist, photographer and musician studying Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sussex. He creates his visual art under the alias of Jacques Marcel, in memory of his two grandfathers. We met at the ACCA café to discuss his ongoing Order//Chaos series, a project that he initiated two and a half years ago. Twelve paintings from Jacques Marcel’s series are currently being exhibited at a salon in Geneva, Switzerland, that is dedicated to promoting the work of local artists.
Could you tell me a bit about your artistic background?
Until two and a half years ago music had always been my main pastime, and it is still a major part of my identity as an artist. I first learnt to play the drums when I was 6 years old, and at 18 I joined the Swiss band Stevans. After graduating high school, I took two gap years in order to focus on my music. It was during this studying hiatus that I first decided to experiment with the visual arts. I became increasingly interested in graphic design, as inspired by the bold graphics often found on EP and album covers. When it comes to painting, I’m a self-taught artist. I’ve always enjoyed fine art, but it just so happens that I didn’t start exploring my ideas on canvas until my gap years. In fact, the pattern which eventually became central to my Order series was a concept that I used to sketch repeatedly in my school textbooks for years, and I’ve finally been able to see it evolve and materialise on a much larger scale.
What is the overall premise of your Order//Chaos series?
The whole series is fundamentally about visualising contrasts. As the title suggests, the series is split into two main sections. The Order part of the series is the result of meticulous planning and precision. This is epitomised by how much thought went into the initial pattern which is central the Order series itself. These compositions completely rely on mathematical, symmetrical and geometric order. The paintings within the Chaos part of the series explicitly counteract both the process and output of those within Order, as they completely rely on spontaneity. Though I use acrylic paints to achieve both Order and Chaos, the relationship between the canvas and the medium is completely different; Chaos is the result of putting various colours of diluted paint onto the canvas, which I then move around in different directions in order to let the paint run freely. A paintbrush isn’t involved in the process at all, and the final product is completely unpredictable. Though I can plan the colours I want to include, the paint takes control in the Chaos compositions in a way in which directly juxtaposes my full control over the paint within the Order series.
How did your ideas evolve over the course of the series?
During my experimentation it became clear to me that I didn’t solely want the elements found within the two halves of Order//Chaos to exist in isolation, and I started to think about ways in which I could bring together both the “precision” of Order and the “spontaneity” of Chaos onto the space of one canvas. The result was a third part to the series, whereby I merged my overlapping ideas within two compositions: a painting named Fusion and a triptych, Composite. Fusion was my first ever collaborative project, one which I undertook with my girlfriend, Ela. The whole process was incredibly fun and I definitely want to consider more collaborative projects in the future.
Do you have any other ongoing projects aside from your Order//Chaos series?
I have very recently made a lyric video alongside my friend Alejo Sonnenberg for the Junkei remix of Stevans’ song “When the Light is Gone”. My other ongoing visual projects include my photography, which I’m still experimenting with. I got hold of my first camera at 10 years old, and my fascination with photography started on a trip to Egypt with my dad that same year. However, just as with my other visual creative projects, my gap years were the catalysts for exploring photography in full. We’re living in an age where smart phone photography has become so prevalent and accessible, and I’ve recently enjoyed trying to think more carefully about my process of taking photographs through the use of a film camera. I like the uncertainty of shooting in film, as you are unable to review the shots you take. I’ve adopted a similar approach to my digital photography, whereby I like investing time in to the thought process of my shots; in leaving the aperture open for a number of seconds I’ve achieved interesting results both in terms of my astrological and Japanese street photography.
How do your current studies coincide with what you’d like to explore within your art?
I decided to study Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence because of how versatile it is as a subject, as well as how seemingly crucial it is to the technological future we’re creating. I’d really like to find a means to merge Computer Science, AI and the visual arts within my own work; digital media is becoming increasingly prevalent within the visual arts. For example, an inspiration of mine is the artist Refik Anadol (@refikanadol), whose work explores interpreting scientific data through art. A particular project of his that I’m fascinated by is Melting Memories, whereby he recorded electro-activity within the brain whilst people recalled certain memories. He projected the resulting EEG data onto a lead screen, and the final digitised image looks incredibly organic, resonating with some of the abstract shapes within my Chaos series. There’s a quote by John Dewey that resonates deeply with me: “Science states meanings; art expresses them.”
Are there any other particular artists who inspire your work?
Scott Hansen (@tychomusic) is a brilliant composer, producer, designer and photographer whose mountainous photography is incredibly striking and vibrant; his focus on the intensity of colour within his compositions makes his photography very bold and graphic. In addition, I’m extremely invested in the artist and designer Samuel Burgess Johnson (@samuelburgessjohnson), who works as the artistic director for the band the 1975 in order to create the visuals for their new album. The prominent graphics within his work is something I’d quite like to translate into my own artistic process. Some of his other abstract and spontaneous colour work was the inspiration behind my own Choas series.
Words: Elizabeth Richardson
Instagram: @artofjacquesmarcel / @leozinho2r