There won’t be wine. There won’t be cheese. There won’t be any selfie-taking, elbow-brushing, did-you-see-who-just-walked in moments at this opening. But there will be art. Contemporary artist PunkMeTender’s new A Battle Won exhibition has gone from a live to a completely digitally experience, using an exhibition video, a 3-D Virtual gallery and View in Room program.
A Battle Won includes 14 paintings that feature what’s become PunkMeTender’s standout signature motif: a butterfly. In many cultures the butterfly is a symbol of achievement—a sign of a battle won, per se—as only through time spent in a chrysalis can a common caterpillar change, emerge and take flight as a beautiful, colorful butterfly. The winged creature’s other unmistakable symbolism, pertaining to growth, progress, and transformation, seems even more poignant during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Millennial caught up with PunkMeTender to learn more about his work in and around Los Angeles.
Tell us about your journey as an artist. From France to the USA, how has PunkMeTender evolved?
I left my dad’s house as soon as I legally could- 18 years old. Since then, I have been working hard to accomplish my dreams. I had an opportunity to live in LA about 15 years ago. It wasn’t easy. I had no money, slept in a garage and had $5 per day to eat. About 6 month in LA, I met Thierry Guetta, soon to become Mr Brainwash. He took me under his wing and I learn a lot being around him. We soon started to work together on his new path- street art. We still work together til this day. About 5 years ago I felt I needed to express myself and free all the creativity in me and created PunkMeTender.
What was your inspiration behind “A Battle Won” and how has the expression changed (if at all) now that it will be experienced as a 3D virtual gallery?
I felt that we were leaving in 2D before this crisis of epidemic. But now we are seeing in 3D. As our freedoms are being jeopardized, we are forced to look outside the box. « A battle won « is the definition of that; 3 dimensional artwork representing flying butterflies coming out of the restricted flat canvas, an example of today’s reality.
You’ve recently made quite the mark on Los Angeles, leaving colorful splashes of PunkMeTender all across the city. Describe your process of producing these large scale exhibitions.
Really the process is simple, there is no process, just intuition and hard work.
Explain the foundation of your artistry, i.e. which materials do you work with, what types of techniques are applied, and how do you define your style choices?
I never been to art school or any related school. I don’t know how to draw, but I can build anything. So based on my lacking conventional art techniques, I created and developed my own techniques. I research a lot and learn every day. Today I work almost every medium, and can accomplish a lot of different style all by myself. I don’t have any assistant. I build my own canvas majority of the time, and work overtime. I’m studying spinning painting these days and it took me a while to design my own spinning table, but now it’s working great and I’m just getting started.
For many years you hid your identity. What has sparked the choice to reveal yourself and what can we expect from this new Punk Me Tender?
The truth is, I really like the fact of being anonymous, it provides a lot of freedom. But I realized that hiding behind your art isn’t right. It’s actually easier and it’s running from your responsibility. I feel that today it’s time to back up what I do and the decision I take. So you can expect to see a bit more of my private world that I have been building cautiously.