Alexandre Cornet has always been an artist; for him, there was never any doubt. Growing up in Paris, drawing was more than a childhood pastime, it was a passion. This passion evolved with him, and by the time he was a late teenager he was exploring multiple mediums. Now he is 31, and he is recognized around the world as one-of-a-kind.
“I am always thinking of creating something; it is a passion and a need for me to make art,” said Cornet.
This year, Cornet had his first individual exhibition, at the Centro Colich gallery in Barranco, Lima, Peru. The exhibition began on January 5th and ended January 28th. The exhibition, named “Lanzon”, is a two meter high, stainless steel sculpture. The inspiration behind the exhibition was the Lanzon, the most important statue of the ancient Peruvian temple Chavin de Huantar. It is an imposing sculpture standing in a room in the middle of maze of underground galleries. Cornet’s piece is a beautiful stainless steel 360-degree totem. The piece is inspired by ancient cultures with the representations of ritual masks, impersonating spirits, deities, and more.
“It’s metaphors of stories. I have been working on my own masks for some time and made my first sculptures in London in 2011. They are the product of my interpretation of the Ancients’ creative process, applied to my personal experience, rooted in the graffiti culture of playing with identity and anonymity, creating icons, and by extension masks. Also the idea of steel, being to me the most representative material of modern mankind’s work, symbol of the industrial revolution, its impact on the world and the futuristic feel, for its association with machines,” said Cornet.
Working on the sculpture was no easy task, as it involved an extensive amount of research, locating the prime materials and adequate equipment to begin with, while simultaneously making the plans of shapes to be laser-cut, which would be the parts Cornet would bend, assemble and weld into each mask. The planning staged involved a lot of geometry and calculation of exact measure from the frontal and side view he had drawn as plan of the sculpture. Cornet made 66 different pieces that would be part of the sculpture, and each piece was its own remarkable artwork, and when put on the totem became a complete and brilliant piece.
“The style of my piece is primitive and geometric with robotic/technologic details. I wanted the mask to be easily recognizable yet completely original, and to be instantly associated with ancient cultures/civilizations, animals and futuristic machines. I like sculpture and the fact of creating three-dimensional artwork that evolves in space. This process of making such a project involves so many different tasks, I like the fact it blends creative and physical work, and that the material is a very important part,” described Cornet. “I like metal as a material, there is so many ways of working with it and I am always fascinated by how it reacts to light, it feels magic and strong. I really enjoy working with it, to see it changing step by step, and the pressure that come particularly with welding. I like how it all came out and the impression it leaves to the viewer, it has something ceremonial.”
Cornet was initially approached by the gallery owner Lothar Busse. Busse had previously seen Cornet’s work, and was immediately interested in having an original exhibition of the artist, knowing the success it would have for his gallery. He was particularly interested in showing Cornet’s sculpture work of sheet metal masks. When Cornet presented him with the idea of a 360 degrees steel totem composed of a combination of masks representing animal beings and machines like a modern ark, he was enchanted.
“Working with Alexandre has been an enriching experience because, due to his career as an illustrator and urban artist, he has been able to translate ideas into icons that eventually made one greater and most interesting,” said Busse. “It seems to me that the absence of religious elements in his artistic experience generates a very important approximation to the great icons that he works. Alexandre has perseverance in the subject he develops that in turn, is diversified in other supports as paper, fabric, metal. It is a versatile artist, with a look capable of quickly grasping the forms of art.”
Busse has always encouraged Cornet, and the exhibition quickly became an immense success for them both. Cornet says that when he first took the sculpture into the gallery, Busse was immediately taken with its beauty.
“It was great to have the full support of Lothar, When I took in my piece, he was thrilled and told me that he had never seen anything like that before in his gallery,” said Cornet.
Cornet has previously lived in London, which is where he initially begun to create a steel totem, but he never ended up completing it as he moved to Peru a few months after beginning it, and it was a frontal piece to be attached to a wall. What ended up being a loss at the beginning, ended up becoming a tremendous success for the artist, showing the attendees why Cornet is considered one of the best.
“I am really happy of the result and the interest it has generated. It gives me great confidence to know it was well received, and I want to carry on making projects like this,” Cornet concluded. “At the end of the day I feel that for so much efforts the actual piece is charged with the energy it has been worked with, and that is definitely something special to me.”