It's difficult to explain what “abstract” means. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to ask Julien Pacaud, an intriguing illustrator from Le Mans, France.
“Not an easy assignment you're leaving me with here! Abstraction, for me, would be a way of creation that does not involve any human or natural figures; that is only based of pure combinations of shape and colors. I'm thinking while I’m writing so I may not be very pertinent. Maybe, to be more specific, abstraction is about refusing any narration, but searching more for instinctive emotions through visual harmony (or disharmony). I'm very far from being abstract, as I consider my artworks to be full of narration. I'm telling myself stories when I’m creating, and I hope that the viewers invent their own when they see my work. I do, however, like to add more “abstract” elements, which are there to bring some pure esthetical emotions to the pieces.”
Full of narration, his pieces certainly are. But if my interpretations of them aren't the same as the stories he intended, does the presence of human figures really eliminate abstractness?
Pacaud says his real desire is time travel. Maybe that's why his work has a nostalgic aesthetic rendering futuristic images. After all, he used to be a man of science: before becoming a full time illustrator he was an astrophysicist, hypnotist and Esperanto teacher (and a snooker champion). “I feel like a god creating worlds as a daily routine,” he says, where he often plays with perspectives.
The titles of these images guide you to the narrative, however. The one above is called “Angular Momentum.” On his website, several personal projects are often accompanied by a song each, which complement the titles.
“I choose the songs after making the artworks. They don't influence the creation, but I see them more like a “soundtrack” that accompanies the image. It's also a kind of game to find a song that would match. I often use similarities in the titles (but the titles of my pieces are chosen before selecting a song). It also has to have a mood that fits the image I created.”
Last November, Pacaud won the Illustrative's Young Illustrator Awards Special Prize— “my ‘prize’ was to design a limited edition Swatch watch that will be released at the end of the year.”