Peter de Potter Interview
Peter De Potter is an artist and photographer from Belgium, where he currently lives and works. Having studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, he gained the attention of the fashion world through his 2001 - 2010 collaboration with Raf Simons. Initially intended as a one-off collection, the collaboration soon became a lengthy and ongoing relationship. Peter's recent photography projects have been arresting and engaging; grainy black and white images capture an energy and often innocence in his predominantly male subjects, who are - somewhat conflictingly - found in explicit scenarios. The artist has also notably taken a non-traditional route by showing his work directly on the internet - a selection of which can be found at his tumblr, angelic-starts. POST NEW recently caught up with Peter to talk about his work.
Angela Bevan: How did your association with Raf Simons come about and what is it that means you work so well together?
Peter de Potter: We worked together from 2002 until 2010 – I always had been doing my art but after that period I decided to fully concentrate on my work as an artist and establishing myself as such in the art world. We were already friends before we collaborated on his collections. I remember him inviting me to work together on one particular collection but instead of a one-off it turned into a continuous thing. It was a very organic thing, which is not so unusual when a working relationship evolves from a friendship. It’s much more than sharing a certain set of aesthetics. I guess it’s about having a strong vision and keeping that vision uncluttered and fresh.
AB: Is there a dream project ? Or a secret something you'd like to achieve in this life?
PdP: As with any dream project it would involve a large budget! I did some videos in the past and I really would like to explore that much more. There’s a directness and rawness that I like about home-made video but the combination with high-end production would make it more interesting. Another dream project would be to publish books. I like the idea of an encyclopedia, something anyone anywhere can turn to and consult.
AB: Can you share a moment that has made you glad you are who you are/do what you do?
PdP: Answering that would mean that I know who I am and know what I’m doing. And I don’t, which I consider a great accomplishment. I have doing art all my life, in such a way that it doesn’t feel like an actual activity anymore. Plus the fact that I have taken a different route than most artists – they graduate and enter the art circuit – gives me a different perspective, I’ve found out. I never think about art history or about the ‘art language’ when I do my work.
AB: The hardest lesson you've learnt?
PdP: That people are in it for themselves. Especially in this day and age, where everybody gives out likes and heart symbols, it’s tricky to see that side of people. Vanity is everything and all is vanity, that’s something the internet has understood very well. The fact that I put big parts of my work online makes it of course very vulnerable but in some naive way I want it to take its place in pop culture that way. It’s also the most natural way to show art and images I think. It’s my way of sharing. It’s not out of vanity. It’s not some clever ploy.
AB: What would you like to be doing this time next year?
PdP: Inviting post-new.com to a big art show I’m putting on!
AB: Who have been the inspirational names in your life?
PdP: In my teenage years: all those fearless film directors like P.P. Pasolini and Derek Jarman. Music: The Fall, Kraftwerk and especially Manic Street Preachers, all bands that were really different instead of paying some lip service to the ‘alternative’. Vladimir Nabokov, Jean Genet and Astrid Lindgren, the kind of writers that went against the grain in a smart and cocky way. But on my deathbed I won’t be thinking of them. I’ll be thinking about very specific people – friends, lovers – that have been intensely inspirational to my work. I often go through times making works only with one person in mind, intending them as conversations. Of course the trick is to avoid the point where it becomes too personal and as a result, anecdotical. My work is meant for every kind of viewer.
AB: What are you:
Part-time hardcore veggie, part-time Mcdonalds muncher
Nothing, I don’t have a driver’s licence, hey I’m an artist
Anyone’s home gym.
Touch and smell – the two things that are becoming more and more rare in these virtual-ridden times.
Coca Cola Zero and Carlsberg. Nothing else.
The content of my previous computer that suddenly crashed and couldn’t be saved. A lot of things are gone.
Pre-millennium classics like Levi’s and Nike. St. James sweaters in the winter.
Art. And a certain someone’s voice.