I Love Belgium interviews Alex Deforce
Alex Deforce is a jack-of-all-trades. He's a blogger (On-Point), a freelance illustrator, he's a journalist, video editor and last but not least he created his own record label (On-Point records). So that's why the I Love Belgium team sat down with this thirtysomething from West-Flanders who considers Brussels his homebase now to talk about music, art, life and his new series of drawings 'Forgotten Technologies' he exhibites at the 'Beursschouwburg' in Brussels.
Can you tell us something about your background and who you are?
I’m Alex Deforce, 30 years old and I’m originally from Roeselare in Belgium. How I got here is a strange path. My life has taken many turns and will take on more in the future.
I studied journalism and started my own blog when blogging still was kind of a new thing. I interviewed musicians as music has been a strong interest and big part of my life, but I was never able to make a living out of that. I have always been drawn to paintings and art in different forms, and as I said, very active in music.
Can you tell us more about your simple but unique technique you used for the series forgotten technologies:
Well, I got the mission to do something for the festival DeepInTheWoods this summer, and with only ten days to produce something, I had to work quickly. Since I had a full-time job already, I had to work in the evenings, and from home. This limited me to what I could use at home, but this limitation is also what later came to make these pieces rather unique. I used simple bic pens, like any other pen you’ll find in an office, to start drawing on the big papers. There are no corrections in these drawings, it’s all very rough, you’ll see the mistakes – which I actually think improve the overall impression today.
This was very time consuming, and my hand and arm started to hurt a lot of using the same muscles and same movement for hours, and I eventually had to see the doctor for it. Since I worked vertically, the position of my arm was very different from drawing anything else, and it was impossible to stay focused the whole time so eventually it was just to lose control and continue.
It must have been very stressful to finish it.
Well yes, I finished these three pieces in ten days, no, ten evenings. Since I was already working full-time, I usually spent the hours between 6pm until 1am at night to finalize this. Add to that the fact that I had to wear a neck braces for the last evenings due to my muscle ache, and the last nights were really painful in terms of the pain in my arms and shoulders.
What was the inspiration for this series?
Actually, it’s not what most people might think. It’s not about nostalgia or historically related but it’s very real. I got the inspiration while reading about a Canadian physician who has devoted his life to figure out old and forgotten technologies. It’s as simple as that, I have tried to put this into another light, it looks a bit expressionistic but that was never my intention. It’s a very honest work, the mistakes are there for everyone to see and I want to keep it that way.
People think art is supposed to be beautiful – I think it’s supposed to be honest, people also believe great art should be very technical, this is also something I clearly disagree with (since I used a bic), it’s not about showing off your technical skills.
You didn’t attend art school, how do you think that shaped you as an artist?
There are two sides to it. Firstly, the technical side, where I really struggle. Practical things I could have avoided if I went to art school. On the other hand, I believe art school can shape your ideas and mind on what art is. Depending on who the teacher is, you will have a certain perception of what art is and what it’s not. There are many codes and unwritten rules in the art world, many of which you learn in art school, and which you might not want to know about. Personally I’ve learned most from reading books, watching documentaries and interviewing artists.
What’s your goal and aim with your artwork?
First of all, I’m happy to show it at Beursschouwburg. I haven’t thought about selling them, yet, but if I do choose to sell them, I want to sell the whole series as one. If they are separated, the feeling disappears.
Right now, I just want to show my art to people, that’s the ultimate goal really.
And, one last question: why do you love Belgium?
Well, I do love Brussels: so many things are coming through here. We have a very modest approach to things, which I like, compared to the UK and Netherlands. I like the amateurism in the Belgium. I feel like Belgium is a bit dirty compared to the neighbors, although that is changing slowly but still.