Charlotte Stuby

Artist Interview

Published February 2020.

Here not here 2017— MA Project, courtesy of Charlotte Stuby ©

Dynamic, vibrant and creatively boundless, the works of Swiss visual artist Charlotte Stuby is able to draw in audiences with a powerful simplicity, an energy and a lineage within the age-old ubiquitous, significance of symbols as art.
Characterised by bold, punchy primary colours, a frequent use of textiles and of functionality while unrestrained by constraints of scale, size or complexity, her work is fun, full of awe and at times abstract— as if psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness day-dreams, observations and notions that are bound to fabric or form.

DM— In my initial email to you, we spoke previously a little about the similarities of your work to that of Asafo Flags. In regards to your style, how varied is your creative lineage? Do you have inspirations outside of textiles that you like to incorporate within your work?
CS— Daily architecture is a big inspiration for my work. My intention is to turn familiar situations into uncanny installations. The objects I make could become uncanny in their surroundings but familiar at the same time. Symbols of identity as landmarks, emblems, logos are also very inspiring in general for my practice.

DM— You recently exhibited ‘Keepsake’ at Kunsthal Gent— what was the starting point for the installation? Tell me a little about the accompanying musical performance on the opening night.
CS— The starting point was to experience the space, and make a textile piece for this environment. The installation assembles and recomposes the observations, memories and fascinations coming from the space, and from my own history. This piece Keepsake could act as a witness and companion of Kunsthal, as it is part of the Endless exhibition. About the musical performance, I invited my friend Verveine to play in front of the banner. I wanted to share a moment of contemplation with the visitors, as well as making an interlude during the exhibition’s opening.

DM— Your work frequently makes use of, or is based around the use of primary colours, especially blue. What is it about this particular palette that you enjoy the most?
CS— It’s very instinctive for me to work with bright, vibrant and bold colours which create contrasts directly. I work rarely with shades and colour gradient. It might comes from the fascination I develop for flags and these identity patches and certainly from the surrealists painters.

DM— Functionality and practicality play quite big roles within your artistic output— things like flags and car/bike covers especially. What is it about creating artwork that can be actually used, attracts you to that approach of making?
CS— Indeed! I cherish this friction point between function and art. The thing I like the most is when an object has to be activated to exist, when it depends on that. The strength of a flag needs the wind to float. A car cover without the car is an obsolete object. I want to look at banality with this altered attention and convert banality into absurdity/poetry.

Keepsake 2019, courtesy of Charlotte Stuby (& Michiel De Cleene) ©

DM— In 2018 you published ‘Creatures in reality’ with Grafische Cel— tell me a little about that. What was it like applying your work and approach to a single, physical artefact like a publication?
CS— Creatures in reality was my masters thesis that I was invited to publish. It is an essay about textile in landscape. A wandering regarding outdoor objects and architecture, while observing textile elements and their enigmatic presence. Their fascinating shapes become strange and surprising creatures. About the object of a book, I like the fact that it is frozen in terms of temporality.

DM— Your work teeters between installation and textile; the evolution of your work over the years is interesting and exciting. What are you working on at the moment? How do you see your work evolving further in the near future?
CS— I am working on new narrative and visual compositions on tapestry and classical textile techniques, as I’m doing a one year residency at TAMAT in Tournai (BE). Alongside this, I’m working on a collaborative project of shelters with my friend Juliet Merie, and on some set design and artwork for musicians. I hope I’ll always keep this diversity of projects; it’s crucial to my practice.

DM— Has your background or surroundings have had any effect on your voice or approach as an artist?
CS— My Swiss background has profoundly had an impact on me, specifically in regards to nature— mountain sceneries, and lakeside horizons. I am also surrounded by fantastic friends, who are very inspiring to me, and with whom I share constantly my ideas and opinions. They support me on the projects and vice versa. I think it is fundamental to collaborate and share knowledge together.

Je lui ai accordé plus d'attention qu'à un porte-parapluie— La Placette, 2018, courtesy of Charlotte Stuby (& Julien Gremaud) ©

DM— In the current digital age where being a creator or even an artist is as simple as creating an Instagram page, what are your thoughts on artistic authenticity?
CS— Although I’m aware of this way of showing work and the damage it can cause both to the creation and the reception of works, I don’t want to dwell on it, or integrate that worry into my own work. To me, authenticity is more about integrating my own personal and cultural history. Touch, as well as the physicalism of the work is also essential— nothing beats a real experience.

DM—What takes up your time away from art? What are Sundays best spent doing?
CS— My best Sundays in Brussels would be: eating a Moroccan crepe at the market, going for a bike ride in the forest or in the fields and having a picnic (I have a picnic passion). And then when I get back into town, playing cards with my friends at a bar.